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Vanessa Bohns

Vanessa Bohns

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Understanding our influence over others
My research focuses broadly on social influence, compliance, and consent. I explore the different ways in which influencers, targets, and outside observers view acts of influence. In general, I find that people mis-calibrate their own influence over others. Specifically, they underestimate the influence they have over others by failing to appreciate how difficult it is for people to say "no" to requests and directives (see Bohns, 2016 for a summary). Misunderstanding the pressure others feel to comply with requests has implications for both prosocial and unethical behavior: Help-seekers underestimate the likelihood they will receive help if they ask for it (Flynn & Lake [Bohns], 2008); instigators of unethical acts are surprised when others go along with such acts even after they have goaded them to do so (Bohns, Roghanizad & Xu, 2014). With various collaborators, I have explored a number of moderators of these effects, such as communication medium (i.e., email or face-to-face; Roghanizad & Bohns, 2017), one’s relationship to the person being asked (Deri, Stein & Bohns, 2019), cultural norms (Bohns, Handgraaf, Sun, Aaldering, Mao & Logg, 2011), and the use of financial incentives to elicit compliance (Bohns, Newark & Xu, 2016). We have also examined the downstream consequences after someone has agreed to an initial request (e.g., Newark, Flynn & Bohns, 2014; Newark, Bohns, & Flynn, 2017). Most recently, I have been applying the insights gained from this work to pressing social issues related to consent, such as consent search (Sommers & Bohns, 2019) and sexual advances (Bohns & DeVincent, 2018).

Primary Interests:

  • Ethics and Morality
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Persuasion, Social Influence

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Courses Taught:

  • Leadership and Influence
  • Morality at Work
  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Research Methods
  • Values-Based Leadership

Vanessa Bohns
School of Industrial and Labor Relations
394 Ives Hall
Ithaca, New York 14853
United States

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