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Northwestern University

Leadership Through Social Influence

Northwestern University via Coursera


This course will provide learners with a systematic general framework for analyzing persuasive influence situations. Learners will be able to identify different challenges faced by persuaders and to fashion appropriate strategies for addressing those challenges. The broad goal is to provide learners with not only an extensive persuasion tool kit, but also with an understanding of how different tools are useful in different situations. Specifically, the course will address four broad topics: strategies for influencing people’s personal attitudes; strategies for affecting social factors influencing behavior; strategies for affecting people’s perceived ability to undertake the desired behavior; and strategies for inducing people to act on their existing intentions.


  • Influencing Attitudes
    • This module discusses the first of four challenges that persuaders often face: getting people to think that what you’re proposing is a good idea. Sometimes, the reason people aren’t already doing what you want is that they’re not yet convinced that they should—that is, they don’t have sufficiently positive attitudes. This module discusses some fundamental strategies for changing people’s attitudes.
  • Influencing Social Factors
    • Even if people have positive attitudes about what you’re proposing, social factors—what they think other people do or want them to do—might lead them to not do what you want. This module discusses several ways in which such social considerations might pose a challenge for persuaders—and discusses how to successfully influence such factors.
  • Influencing Perceived Ability
    • People can have positive attitudes about your advocated action, and all the social considerations can be lined up positively, but still people might not engage in the desired behavior—because they don’t think they can perform the action. That is, they think the behavior is too difficult, too hard to do, they lack the ability. This module discusses strategies for addressing that challenge—strategies for influencing perceived behavioral ability.
  • Converting Intentions into Action
    • Even when people already have the desired positive attitudes, positive social factors, and high perceived ability to perform the behavior—that is, even when they intend to engage in the behavior you want—even then they might fail to do so. When people have the intentions you want but aren’t acting on them, then the challenge is to get people to convert those intentions into actions. This module discusses several strategies that can encourage people to do that.

Taught by

Daniel J. O’Keefe


4.7 rating, based on 3 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 1251 ratings

Start your review of Leadership Through Social Influence

  • Profile image for Mfundo Khumalo
    Mfundo Khumalo
    such an excellent course to pursue, Information delivered very clearly, quizzes were hard enough to challenge my knowledge. The course was introductory but a great overview of the fundamentals of influencing
  • Anne L. McQuade completed this course.

  • Profile image for Leo Brandon
    Leo Brandon

    Leo Brandon completed this course.

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