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Social Influences on Behavior sample essay

In psychology there have been countless experiments on social behavioral patterns in different sized groups to better assess how individuals will react in a situation with social pressure. These experiments prove a variety of different reactions, from minimal change to extreme changes in social behavior. These results also varied on group size and the subjective information of the study. All of these studies are extremely helpful today when trying to asses tough situations with group behavior but can’t always help prepare for any given outcome.

These social behavioral changes happen daily and many of them are unseen by most because they are almost expected or considered harmless. A few examples could be lying, stereotyping or even arousal. These different behaviors are all directly affected by social surroundings and situations. Perhaps one of the biggest socially affected behaviors is conformity. Countless people fall prey to “peer pressure” on a daily basis just to conform or fit in to the group. An example could be receiving an offer from co-workers to go out for a drink after work.

Even though the individual had no intention of going out after work and perhaps even just wanted to relax that night the social group pressure could be just enough to persuade them otherwise and change plans. This new change in plan could now lead to a number of different outcomes for the night and have severe consequences if the individual is not careful. These times of persuasion can often be explained by social judgment theory. This theory explains that in a given situation you have say three choices that can be considered, and if given the right information could be persuaded into the one others want chosen.

For the example listed above the three options could be refusal and go home for the night, go out and have a quick drink then head home, or accept the night and go have fun with co-workers. The initial plan of going home could be altered if the offer of going out includes something that touches on your personal latitude of acceptance. Instead of just drinks say the co-workers implies a member of the opposite sex will be in attendance that you fancy, or perhaps a colleague whom you need to impress for a job promotion will be there.

This new additional information could alter your decision from plain rejection to immediate acceptance based on your judgment of the situations potential result. (O’Keefe, D. J. ) A second Social behavior that is largely dictated by social situations is racism/sexism. This common issue occurs when an individual is surrounded and immersed into a group so often that the thought processes begin to change. A good example of this is how members of society that are homosexual try to hide or overcome their preferred way of life based on what society deems is right.

Say a member of a religious group is brought up in a strict enclosed society that consistently tells them homosexuality is wrong. Growing up that individual would often consider that something is severely wrong their mind and often times seek out psychiatric help. Now say that individual decided to move elsewhere and was immersed into a homosexually friendly culture and was told the exact opposite. At first it would seem wrong and the person would question the beliefs but over time would fall into the culture and support their individual feelings.

This kind of behavior can be attributed with what some call groupthink or social identity theory. In this theory the “group” strives to make sure that every member is on the same page and is working against all other groups that oppose them. Because of this mindset the group can become blinded and fail to see the risk in their own decisions, they fail to see potential alternatives they could try. Examples of groups such as this today are the Westboro Baptist church, gangs (crypts, bloods, folk), cults such as the Manson Family or the Raelian Church.

Many of these groups do not understand the risk they put their members into because they have so much belief in the cause. Many of these examples have had member killed or imprisoned because they again fail to assess the risks in the actions taken, all that is thought about is the end result. (McLeod) Another excellent example is the behavior linked to arousal. This behavior can be directly linked to social situations with people you like or even good friends. Psychologists have determined that when in a state of arousal the human brain changes and begins to react differently to situations than if not aroused.

For example when interested in a member of the opposite sex, an individual is much more likely to do favors when asked by said person as opposed to a regular friend or acquaintance. Humans tend to lose regular judgment when in this state and are more willing to do certain tasks they typically would not. Likewise this can also give reverse effects when faced with someone that said individual is not interested in. On this flipped side of arousal humans are actually more inclined to do much less for the opposed.

Attraction theory is one that can be applied to this example. Attraction theory, which has been popularized by Robert B Cialdini suggests that society holds physically attractive people largely on a pedestal when compared to the average looking people. These people that are physically more attractive often have extreme social influence and are often regarded as more intellectual and persuasive. Cialdini credits this phenomenon to the “halo effect” in which a singular positive trait can overpower all the rest of a person and control how they are viewed in society.

This halo effect also suggests that humans will often act more favorably towards attractive people merely to be around them more almost as a reward in exchange to be associated with them. (Hendricks & Olsen) A conclusion that can be made from these examples and studies is that social behavior is in large part very different from individual behavior and largely affected by social situations. These behaviors can be accredited to a variety of things such as groups, social pressure, anger/aggression, and even arousal all of which can skew judgment of the human mind based on how it wants to be perceived in the eye of society.

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