Evidence for a two-step model of social group influence

Emiel Cracco, Ulysses Bernardet, Robbe Sevenhant, Nette Vandenhouwe, Fran Copman, Wouter Durnez, Klaas Bombeke, Marcel Brass

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Social group influence plays an important role in societally relevant phenomena such as rioting and mass panic. One way through which groups influence individuals is by directing their gaze. Evidence that gaze following increases with group size has typically been explained in terms of strategic processes. Here, we tested the role of reflexive processes. In an ecologically valid virtual reality task, we found that participants were more likely to follow the group’s gaze when more people looked, even though they knew the group provided no relevant information. Interestingly, participants also sometimes changed their mind after starting to follow the gaze of the group, indicating that automatic imitation can be overruled by strategic processes. This suggests that social group influence is best explained by a two-step model in which bottom-up imitative processes first elicit a reflexive tendency to imitate, before top-down strategic processes determine whether to execute or inhibit this reflex.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number104891
    Number of pages12
    Issue number9
    Early online date6 Aug 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Sept 2022

    Bibliographical note

    © 2022. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


    • Biological sciences


    Dive into the research topics of 'Evidence for a two-step model of social group influence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this