So far, we have emphasized the perceptions and beliefs of the social actor—how she interprets others’ behaviors; what she infers about people, in light of their behaviors; how she forms (and perhaps changes) her attitudes. These points are crucial if we are going to understand how people act in groups, because—as we noted early on—our actions in a social setting depend on how we understand what is going on around us.
Let’s note, though, that all of this makes it sound like our behavior in social settings is driven entirely “from within”—that is, shaped solely by our beliefs and perceptions. But, of course, our behavior is also powerfully shaped “from without”—that is, by var-ious influences from our social world. How do those influences guide us? In pursuing this broad question, we need to distinguish three types of influence.
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