The Social Influence Theory is a widely accepted theory that attempts to explain how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others. The theory has its roots in social psychology and has been studied extensively over the years.

But who proposed this theory? Let’s find out.

The Father of Social Influence Theory

The Social Influence Theory was first proposed by Muzafer Sherif, a Turkish-American psychologist, in the 1930s. Sherif was one of the pioneers of social psychology and his work laid the foundation for much of the research that followed in this field.

The Robbers Cave Experiment

Sherif’s most famous contribution to social psychology is perhaps his Robbers Cave experiment. The study was conducted in 1954 with a group of 22 boys at Robber’s Cave State Park in Oklahoma.

The boys were divided into two groups and kept separate from each other. Over time, they developed strong group identities and began to view members of the other group as enemies.

Sherif observed how each group tried to establish their dominance over the other by engaging in various competitive activities such as sports and games. He found that this behavior was driven by a desire for social influence – that is, the need to gain approval and respect from others.

Types of Social Influence

Sherif’s Social Influence Theory identifies three types of social influence:

The Legacy of Social Influence Theory

Sherif’s Social Influence Theory has had a profound impact on the field of social psychology. It has been used to explain a wide range of human behaviors, from conformity to group polarization.

Today, researchers continue to build on Sherif’s work by exploring new aspects of social influence and developing new theories to explain these phenomena.


In conclusion, Muzafer Sherif was the first to propose the Social Influence Theory in the 1930s. His Robbers Cave experiment and subsequent research helped to establish this theory as one of the most important in social psychology. Today, social influence continues to be a fascinating area of study for psychologists and researchers around the world.