Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management Groundbreaking ideas and research for engaged leaders
Rotman Insights Hub | University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

You have more influence than you think

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Vanessa K. Bohns, Kristen Duke


If you’ve ever felt ineffective, invisible, or inarticulate, chances are you weren’t actually any of those things. Those feelings may instead have been the result of a lack of awareness we all seem to have for how our words, actions, and even our mere presence affect other people.

In this presentation and her book, You Have More Influence Than You Think, Bohns draws from her original research in social psychology to illustrate why we fail to recognize the influence we have, and how that lack of awareness can lead us to miss opportunities or accidentally misuse our power. In particular, she talks about how two factors — the negativity bias and egocentrism — causes us to second guess ourselves before offering compliments and asking for help.

headshot of bohnsVanessa K. Bohns is a social psychologist and professor of organizational behaviour at Cornell University. She received her PhD in social psychology from Columbia University and her AB in psychology from Brown University. Prior to joining Cornell, she taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo in Canada. She is author of the book You Have More Influence Than You Think (2021, Norton). Her research focuses broadly on social influence and the psychology of compliance and consent. In particular, she examines the extent to which people recognize the influence they have over others in various interpersonal interactions.

Kristen Duke is an assistant professor of marketing at the Rotman School. She won the 2019 Robert Ferber Award for co-authoring the best dissertation-based article published in the Journal of Consumer Research, “Guilt Dynamics: Consequences of Temporally Separating Decisions and Actions”, co-authored with On Amir.