portrait of dr. radmila prislin
Radmila Prislin, Ph.D


Department of Psychology
College of Sciences
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.

San Diego, CA 92182-4611

Office Location: LSS-277

Mail Code: 4611
Phone: (619) 594-3321
FAX: (619) 594-7443

Research Interests

My research interests are in the areas of social influence and social change, group dynamics in the aftermath of social change, attitudes and persuasion, and the evaluation of public health programs.

Research Keywords: Social Influence, Persuasion, Attitudes, Group Dynamics, Minority Influence, Social Change

Social Influence and Group Dynamics Laboratory

Groups, especially those in the minority, influence others for various reasons. For example, others’ support may be instrumental toward other goals (e.g., getting elected), or it may be a goal in itself (e.g., getting accepted). How do motives that drive social influence affect targets’ reactions to influence. How do successful groups (e.g., minorities that become majorities) react to their success depending on what motivated their efforts to influence others? This research focuses on motivated social influence and group dynamics in the aftermath of successful social influence that restructures numerical positions, power, and status within a group (minority <—> majority, powerless <—> powerful, low status <—> high status).

Selected Publications Books: Journal Articles (*student authors)

Prislin, R., Davenport, C., Xu, Y., Moreno, R., & Honeycutt, N. (2018) From marginal to mainstream and vice versa: Leader’s valuation of diversity while in the minority versus majority. Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 74, No. 1, 2018, pp. 112–128 (Abstract 1 | PDF) Prislin, R., Shaffer, E.*, & Crowder, M*. (2012). Populism vs. elitism: Social consensus and social status as bases of attitude certainty. Journal of Social Psychology, 152, 1-13. (Abstract 2 | PDF) Shaffer, E*., & Prislin, R. (2011). Conversion vs. tolerance: Minority-focused influence strategies can affect group loyalty. Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations, 14, 755-766. (Abstract 3 | PDF) Prislin, R, Sawicki, V.*, & Williams, D. K. (2011). New majorities’ abuse of power: Effects of perceived control and social support. Group Processes and Interpersonal Relations, 14, 489-504. (Abstract 4 | PDF) Prislin, R. Boyle, S.*, Davenport, C.*, Farley, A.*, Jacobs, E.*, Michalak, J.*, Uehara, K.*, Zandian, F.*, & Xu, Y.* (2011). On being influenced while trying to persuade: The feedback effect of persuasion outcomes to the persuader. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2, 51-58. (Abstract 5 | PDF) Prislin, R., & Filson, J*. (2009). Seeking conversion vs. advocating tolerance in pursuit of social change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 811-822. (Abstract 6 | PDF)

Book Chapters

Levine, J. M., & Prislin, R. (2013). Social influence in groups. In J. M. Levine (Ed.), Group Processes (pp. 135-163). New York: Psychology Press. Prislin, R., & Crano, W.D. (2012). History of social influence research. In A. Kruglanski & W. Stroebe (Eds.), The Handbook of the History of Social Psychology (pp. 321-339). New York, NY: Psychology Press.Prislin, R., Davenport, C., & Michalak, J. (2011). Groups in transition: Differences in the context of social change. In J. Jetten & M. Hornsey (Eds.), Rebels in groups: Dissent, deviance, difference, and defiance (pp. 181-200). Wiley-Blackwell.Prislin, R. (2010). Dynamics of change: Minority influence makes the world go around. In E. Martin & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Minority influence and innovation: Antecedents, processes and consequence (pp. 285-312). New York: Psychology Press.

Research Opportunities for Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students join my research laboratory to work on one of several projects that my graduate students and I are running. Undergraduate research assistants are informed about theoretical background and previous research leading to a specific study in which they are involved. Their major task is to assist with data collection. All students are required to write an APA-style final paper summarizing their research experience at the end of their first semester in the laboratory. Students receive detailed feedback on their papers, which serve as an initial training in professional communication. Additionally, students have an opportunity to analyze data and present their findings at professional conferences. 

Research Abstracts

From marginal to mainstream and vice versa: Leader’s valuation of diversity while in the minority versus majority

Prislin, R., Davenport, C., Xu, Y., Moreno, R., & Honeycutt, N.

This study examined tolerance and appreciation for differences within a group among leaders of numerically distinct factions (majority vs. minority), whose size remained stable or changed over time (majority ↔ minority). Appreciation or valuing differences in and of themselves was significantly higher among minority than majority leaders when their positions remained stable but not when their positions changed. Appreciation for differences decreased significantly when minority leaders became majority leaders. Tolerance or willingness to put up with differences even when evaluating them negatively increased significantly among both minority and majority leaders once their positions changed. Although this increased tolerance may be temporarily beneficial, in the long run, it could be detrimental to the group as it leads to a cessation of interactions between a minority and a majority. Findings could inform policies to advance functioning of the groups whose minority and majority factions may reverse positions by design (e.g., political parties winning or losing elections) or via demographic changes (e.g., ethic or racial minorities becoming majorities and vice versa). (Abstract 1) 

Populism vs. elitism: Social consensus and social status as bases of attitude certainty

Prislin, R., Shaffer, E. & Crowder, M.

This study examined the effects of social consensus and social status on attitude certainty conceptualized multi-dimensionally as perceived clarity and correctness of one’s attitude. In a mock opinion exchange about a social issue, participants were either supported (high consensus) or opposed (low consensus) by most of the confederates. They were informed that their opinion (high status) or their opponents’ opinion (low status) had the alleged psychological significance indicative of future success. Post-experimental attitude clarity was significantly greater when attitudinal position was associated with high rather than low status. Attitude correctness was interactively affected by social status and social consensus. Supporting the compensatory effect hypothesis, attitude correctness was comparable across the levels of social consensus as long as they were associated with high status, and across the levels of social status as long as they were associated with high social consensus.
(Abstract 2)

Conversion vs. tolerance: Minority-focused influence strategies can affect group loyalty

Shaffer, E., & Prislin, R

Past research has documented that social change has different implications for group identification when it is effected through successful minority’s advocacy for tolerance of diversity vs. conversion of opponents to supporters. Extending these findings, the current study demonstrated that minorities who successfully advocated for tolerance, compared to those who successfully converted opponents, were more loyal to the group. This was evident in their working harder for the group at the personal expense and without expecting anything in return. The effect of influence strategy on group loyalty was mediated by evaluative and cognitive components of group identification. Implications for group dynamics in which active minorities employ different influence strategies and their motivational underpinnings are discussed.
(Abstract 3)

New majorities’ abuse of power: Effects of perceived control and social support

Prislin, R., Sawicki, W., & Williams, D. K.

Two studies examined how new majorities (minorities-turned-majorities) abused power by claiming privileges (in-group favoritism) and disparaging new minorities (out-group hostility). Study 1 found that new majorities low in perceived control showed significantly more in-group favoritism than new majorities high in perceived control and stable majorities. The effect of control on new majorities’ in-group favoritism was mediated by certainty about status stability. Study 2 replicated the effect of control on new majorities’ in-group favoritism. In addition, Study 2 found that new majorities were most likely to engage in out-group hostility when they were low in perceived control and received social support for such discrimination. Our studies suggest that power abuse is most egregious among minorities who rise to majority status without a sense of control in the context where abuse is socially endorsed.
(Abstract 4)

On being influenced while trying to persuade: The feedback effect of persuasion outcomes to the persuader

Prislin, R., Boyle, S., Davenport, C., Farley, A., Jacobs, E., Michalak, J., Uehara, K., Zandian, F., & Xu, Y

In two studies, a persuader attempted to influence multiple targets (confederates) to take his or her position on an important social issue. As the persuader advocated his or her position, targets initially provided positive (negative) feedback that placed the persuader in the majority (minority). Subsequent feedback on the persuader’s continuing advocacy either kept initially established status stable or reversed it (majority minority). Initial status and its stability interacted to affect persuaders’ certainty, which in turn, affected persuaders’ efficacy assessed by coding persuaders’ videotaped nonverbal behavior and strength of advocacy, respectively (Study 1). Coding and an independent audience’s reactions to persuasive “blogs” created by persuaders whose initial status was kept (un)stable replicated the persuasive efficacy findings (Study 2). Thus, persuaders’ ability to produce cogent messages is affected by the social context in which they operate.
(Abstract 5)

Seeking conversion vs. advocating tolerance in pursuit of social change

Prislin, R., & Filson, J.

Two studies examined reactions to social change effected by minorities’ successful increase of tolerance for diversity within a group or conversion of a group to the minority position. Minorities who increased tolerance for diversity, compared with those who converted a group to their own position, identified more strongly with the group (Study 1). Study 2 replicated these findings. Additionally, it showed that majorities disidentified less from the group when they lost their dominant position due to the group’s increased tolerance for diversity than the group’s conversion to the minority position. Thus, minority-effected social change left a group stronger when it increased its tolerance than conversion. Expectations that differences within a group would be regulated through social conflict (vs. conciliation) mediated the effect of the mode of change on group identification. Motives for minorities’ pursuit of social change through tolerance of diversity versus group conversion are discussed.
(Abstract 6)