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Classic studies on social influence used simple perceptual decision-making tasks to examine how the opinions of others change individuals' judgments. Since then, one of the most fundamental questions in social psychology has been whether social influence can alter basic perceptual processes. To address this issue, we used a diffusion model analysis. Diffusion models provide a stochastic approach for separating the cognitive processes underlying speeded binary decisions. Following this approach, our study is the first to disentangle whether social influence on decision making is due to altering the uptake of available sensory information or due to shifting the decision criteria. In two experiments, we found consistent evidence for the idea that social influence alters the uptake of available sensory evidence. By contrast, participants did not adjust their decision criteria.

Original publication




Journal article


Pers Soc Psychol Bull

Publication Date





217 - 231


conformity, diffusion model, motivated reasoning, perceptual decision-making, social influence, Color Perception, Decision Making, Female, Humans, Male, Models, Psychological, Social Behavior, Social Perception, Young Adult