Tapestry

Under the sea of influence

Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking a stranger for directions because you don’t want to bother them? Social psychologist Vanessa Bohns says we might want to think again because we have far more influence over others than we think. Peter Marra saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid in theatres many times as a child. But it was only as an adult with a PhD in film studies that he truly recognized the influence the movie had on his queer identity.
(Ben Shannon)

You have more influence than you think

Have you ever felt uncomfortable asking a stranger for directions? Or that you shouldn't raise a point during a meeting because nobody will listen to you? 

Social psychologist Vanessa Bohns says we may want to think again. According to her research, we tend to have far more influence over others than we think. 

"We remember the times that we didn't convince someone to do something, but in fact, there's so many other times where we had a positive influence... and those we tend to forget," says Bohns.

"In general, we tend to be harder on ourselves than other people tend to be on us."

Vanessa Bohns is a social psychologist and professor of organizational behaviour at Cornell University. Her book, You Have More Influence Than You Think, explores our influence over other people and why we tend to underestimate it.

Discovering my queer identity through The Little Mermaid

Peter Marra saw Disney's The Little Mermaid in theatres many times as a child. He doesn't remember exactly why he loved the movie so much, but his mother assures him it was his favourite growing up.

It was only until Marra was in his 30s with a PhD in film and media studies that he recognized the influence the film had on his queer identity.

"When you're that kid who wants the girl toy or wants to be the pink Power Ranger and you feel like you can't, it's forbidden - just like Ariel feels like what she wants is forbidden, to be above land - you realize that what she's asking for... to be a part of that world... is very much what you've been asking for the whole time," says Marra.

 

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