Going Beyond Glitter And Party Animals: Greek Life In Focus

2625 words - 11 pages

Partying, sleeping around, “trying to get a line in the bathroom”, and the like: fraternity and sorority stereotypes. But wait. What about the philanthropy, awards in academics and sports, the bonding and connections, and the professional workshops? Of course media and people who only want to sensationalize and distort everything sweep all that under the rug. There will always be terrible incidents of hazing, drug use, abuse of alcohol, and great levels of partying going on in frats and sororities. Usually, people who join are, after all, at the age where they have just left their parents’ home and start acting stupid thinking that is a way to be free and grow up. That happens in any case, though, if one does not take personal responsibility for themselves. Though a psychological lens, we will be able to use theories and concepts such as modeling (learning theory), foot-in-the-door phenomenon, mimicry/conformity, normative social influence, and prejudice roots and stereotyping in order to better understand what actually goes on in Greek life. Why do members act the way they do? Is Greek life really that bad or is it very beneficial as many members claim? To what degree is what media and stereotypes convey to us true or not? Understanding and observing is of utmost importance in psychology, a science that goes beyond the simple surface of things and the sensationalism and lack of critical thinking that we see in media and co. Let us dig deeper into one of the most talked about and controversial college subjects: Greek life.
To psychologically and critically explore Greek life, we will start off with one of the most fascinating and crucial tasks in a person’s life: learning. Remember the monkey see, monkey do expression? Well, in technical psychological terms, this is called learning by observation (modeling). We observe others around us, especially the ones we are close to or want to receive approval from, and we imitate and act accordingly. In fact, the textbook uses the concept of mirror neurons and monkeys imitating to show that the frontal lobe neurons are believed to fire when observing or performing actions and that can lead to imitation, which in turn leads to empathy. Empathy is very important for human beings: it helps us relate, and belong in the end.
In Greek life, there are many rituals, rules (such as Dress to Pin day, wearing only white day, wearing Greek letters day, staying up until certain hours, attending a number of events or studying groups) and activities that enable learning by observation and imitating. When you are a pledge trying to get in, as there are many more rituals and tests to pass than just rush, you are trying to fit in and you do not really know all the rules, so you imitate the ones who have already been pledged for life. You look up to them. This can have both good and bad effects, or prosocial and antisocial effects like the psychological textbook refers to them. For one, the people you are imitating may be...

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