There are actually a few different aspects or dimensions of suggestibility. The Multidimensional Iowa Suggestibility Scale (MISS) created and owned by Prof. Roman Kotov as part of his doctoral work at the University of Iowa proves it.
Prof. Kotov studies the following dimensions that include: consumer suggestibility, persuadability, peer conformity and stubborn opinionatedness. These and other dimensions cover the various ways that information can come to a person and potentially influence him from the self, from peers and from the media.
Let’s discuss the four dimensions I just mentioned along with sample questions that are included in the MISS questionnaire created by Kotov used in research. First, consumer suggestibility is how easily one is persuaded by messages from the media about products and services.
People who score high in this dimension are generally influenced by advertisements and other things they see and hear in the media. Think about yourself as you listen to the following statements and rate yourself with a number from 1 to 5, were one indicates not at all like me and five indicates very much like me.
Here’s the first statement: “I often get information about products from commercials”. Here’s another statement for your rate: “After someone I know tries a new product I’ll usually try to”. So, how much do these two statements describe you? If you rated yourself as a four or five then you are relatively high on consumer sugestibility.
You may find yourself convinced to buy new products more often than other people. While consumer suggestibility deals with advertisements and commercials persuadability is how easily one is persuaded by information provided by your peers people high on this are more easily convinced by others ideas.
Again, let’s rate ourselves on a scale from one not at all like me to five very much like me “I can be convinced by a good argument”, “I get many good ideas from others”. Now it’s certainly not a bad thing if you can be convinced by a good argument. I wish more people I worked with would be, but if you answer the 4 or 5 here, then you are relatively high on persuadability.
We move to peer conformity, this is how often you conform to your friends and colleagues in order to fit in. People high on this dimension pay attention and generally conform to what people around them are doing.
Two more items, rate yourself again one being low and five being high give yourself a 4 and 5 than you are high on peer conformity: “My friends and I like the same thing” and “I follow current fashion trends”.
Final dimension of suggestibility that I will discuss is stubborn opinionatedness. As reported by Prof. Kotov, this characteristic has a small but reliable negative correlation with the other dimensions that I mentioned. Having higher levels of this characteristic actually renders you less likely to be influenced by others.
Rate yourself on these items: “I question what I see on the news”, “I have strong opinions on most issues”. If you gave yourself a high rating of 45 on these items that you are generally less suggestible than others. It’s easy to witness stubborn opinionatedness in politics and a business.
Associated positive and negative effect
Perhaps the most classic example with the associated positive and negative effects is the late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs. Jobs was known for having strong opinions and to fight with those around him to advance those ideas.
It was his greatest strength and his greatest liability. By sticking to his vision of clean simple and well controlled products he pushed for the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, any iPad as well as the iTunes Store that supports them.
Along the way he and his company revolutionise one industry after another, pushing for the graphical user interface and personal computing, digital music player and the smart phone. The downside came from many people finding it hard to work for Jobs.
When we think about his team trying to influence him as a target things could get stressful. Jobs would argue and argue and even yell many good people left the company because they could not take the stress and the feeling that Jobs his opinion mattered more than their’s. Fortunately his ideas were good so he and his company were successful.