The Social Influence Theory is a widely studied and influential concept in the field of social psychology. It seeks to explain how individuals are influenced by others in various social situations.

But have you ever wondered who founded this theory? Let’s dive into the history of the Social Influence Theory and explore its origins.

Who Founded the Social Influence Theory?

The Social Influence Theory was primarily developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in the 1930s. Lewin is often considered one of the pioneers of modern social psychology, and his work has had a lasting impact on our understanding of human behavior.

Kurt Lewin: The Father of Modern Social Psychology

Kurt Lewin was born in Germany in 1890. He later moved to the United States and became a professor at the University of Iowa. Throughout his career, Lewin conducted numerous influential studies that laid the foundation for various psychological theories, including the Social Influence Theory.

Lewin’s Contributions to Social Psychology

Lewin made several significant contributions to social psychology, but perhaps his most notable achievement was his development of the concept of “group dynamics.” He believed that an individual’s behavior is strongly influenced by their interactions with others in a group setting.

Lewin conducted experiments to explore how groups influence individual behavior and attitudes. One such experiment involved studying how different leadership styles affect group performance and satisfaction. These studies provided valuable insights into how people are influenced by their social environment.

The Birth of the Social Influence Theory

Based on his research on group dynamics, Kurt Lewin proposed the Social Influence Theory. This theory suggests that people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are shaped by their interactions with others and their desire to be accepted within a social group.

According to Lewin, there are three main types of social influence: compliance, identification, and internalization. Compliance refers to conforming to a group’s expectations to gain rewards or avoid punishment.

Identification involves adopting certain behaviors or beliefs to be similar to a specific individual or group. Internalization occurs when an individual fully accepts and integrates the beliefs or values of a group as their own.

Further Development and Impact

Lewin’s Social Influence Theory laid the groundwork for future researchers to expand upon and refine. Over the years, various psychologists have built upon his work, leading to the development of other influential theories such as Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments and Solomon Asch’s conformity studies.

The Social Influence Theory has been instrumental in understanding how social norms, peer pressure, and authority figures can shape our thoughts and actions. It has also been applied in various fields, including marketing, politics, and organizational behavior.


In summary, Kurt Lewin is credited with founding the Social Influence Theory. His groundbreaking work on group dynamics provided valuable insights into how individuals are influenced by their social environment.

The Social Influence Theory continues to be a crucial framework for understanding human behavior in various contexts. By studying this theory and its applications, we can gain a deeper understanding of why people conform, comply, and internalize societal norms.