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Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Vanessa Bohns

Vanessa Bohns

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Understanding our influence over others
In my primary research, I explore social influence via the levers of self-conscious emotions, such as guilt (Bohns & Flynn, 2013) and embarrassment (Bohns & Flynn, 2010). In particular, I have looked at the extent to which we realize how much influence we have over other people through these levers (Bohns, 2016). People typically do not appreciate how much they influence others' behavior, especially in relatively individualistic cultures like the United States (Bohns & Flynn, 2013; Bohns et al., 2011). For example, in the prosocial domain, Frank Flynn and I have found that people don't expect that the simple act of asking for help will elicit the kind of assistance it almost invariably does (Flynn & Lake (Bohns), 2008; see also Flynn & Bohns, 2012). Further, my graduate students and I have found that this effect extends to unethical domains. Just as participants in my previous studies exhibited surprise at how willing people were to help when asked, people are similarly surprised at how willing others are to engage in unethical acts when asked (Bohns, Roghanizad & Xu, 2014). We have explored various moderators of these findings, such as the use of financial incentives to elicit compliance (Bohns, Newark & Xu, 2016), the communication medium by which a request is made (Roghanizad & Bohns, 2017), and one’s relationship to the person being asked, as well as the downstream consequences after someone has agreed to an initial request (e.g., Newark, Flynn & Bohns, 2014; Newark, Bohns, & Flynn, 2017). I am currently exploring how these dynamics play out in a number of practical domains in which underestimating one's influence over others via a simple request can have important consequences, such as romantic or sexual advances that are made in the workplace (Bohns & DeVincent, 2018) and consent to be searched solicited by law enforcement (Sommers & Bohns, 2018).

Primary Interests:

  • Emotion, Mood, Affect
  • Ethics and Morality
  • Helping, Prosocial Behavior
  • Interpersonal Processes
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Persuasion, Social Influence
  • Social Cognition

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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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