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Paper Topic:

Social Influences on Behavior

Social Influences on Behavior

Mary Jane Doe

University of Phoenix





A popular remark by novelist Herman Merville , states that We cannot live for ourselves alone , for our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads ' Social psychologists explore human interaction by scientifically studying how human behavior changes based on social situations . This is especially when the unexpected occurs , we analyze and discuss why people act as they do . In everyday life we do the same Does her warmth reflect romantic interest in me

, or is that how she relates to everyone ? Does his absenteeism signify laziness or an oppressive work atmosphere

Social Influences on Behavior

This essay examines basic concepts of human interaction from a psychology perspective . In this examination , two examples of how human behavior changes based on social situation are described . Behavior is contagious . One person giggles , coughs , or yawns , and others in the group are soon doing the same . A cluster of people stands gazing upward and passersby pause to do likewise . Laughter , even canned laughter , can be infectious . Bartenders and street musicians know to seed ' their tip cups with money that suggests that others have given . This suggestibility is a subtle type of conformity

Conformity involves adjusting our thinking and behavior to bring it into line with some group standard . But why do people comply with this social influence ? Why do we clap when others clap , eat as others eat believe what others believe , even see what others see ? Frequently , it is to avoid rejection or to gain social approval . In such cases , we are responding to what social psychologists call normative social influence W are sensitive to social norms - understood rules for accepted and expected behavior- because the price we pay for being different may be severe (Asch , 1995 . Take for example the case of the famous Italian basketball player , Marco Lokar . During the 1991 Persian Gulf War , he was the only Seton Hall University basketball player who chose not to display an American flag on his uniform . When , as the team traveled about , the fan abuse over his nonconforming behavior became unbearable he quit the team and returned to Italy

But there is another reason : We may conform because the group can provide valuable information . When we accept others` opinions about reality , we are responding to informational social influence . Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love the truth ' observed Joseph Joubert , a French essayist . But a conforming behavior does not necessitate therapeutic intervention

As these reasons for conformity suggest , social influence can be either constructive or destructive . When influence supports that we approve then we applaud those who are open-minded ' and sensitive ' enough to be responsive ' When influence supports what we disapprove , then we scorn the submissive conformity ' of those who comply with others` wishes . Conformity is associated by such group phenomena as group think , minority influence , group polarization and social facilitation

Further , conformity studies reveal that conformity increases when (1 We are made to...

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