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Social Influences On Behavior Essay

1237 words - 5 pages

Analyzing specific human behaviors and relating them to their corresponding social influences has been the practice of social psychologists for decades. "Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life (Einstein, 1949-2009). Behaviorists such as B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist, and Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist have continued to conduct experiments and compile research in an attempt to identify behavior changes and determine in what context these behaviors occur. This essay will examine two of the "three forms of social influence that are pervasive in social life:" conformity and obedience (Kowalski & Western, 2005).Humans are inherently social beings. Individuals long for interaction and desire to develop lasting relationships with others (Kowalski & Western, 2005). Understanding the changes in behavior in response to definitive social influences is an ongoing ambition and will be examined within this essay. Two examples of changes in human behavior based on social circumstances will also be disbanded and clarified. Behavior can be viewed as contagious. Someone laughs, sneezes, or produces a large yawn within a social setting and others in the area before long are matching the behavior. When driving down the highway and noticing a crash on the side of the road, human instinct and curiosity forces traffic to slow and individuals to gawk at the impending scene ahead. Sidewalk performers and bartenders the same purposely create the illusion of already receiving tips by putting money into the tip jars themselves. This suggests to other customers that individuals before them have given to these individuals and encourages them to open their pockets and do the same. This suggestibility is a clever variation of conformity.ConformityThe term conformity refers to "changing attitudes of behavior to accommodate the standards of peers or groups. The pressure to conform can be immense, even if subtle. Wearing a thin tie when wide is in vogue makes many men uncomfortable, as does wearing the wrong brand of tennis shoes for many teenagers" (Kowalski & Western, 2005). This type of behavioral influence can be compared to peer pressure in the sense that individuals within a group are faced with the choice to adapt to the norms of the group or to maintain and emulate his or her own personal beliefs or habits regardless of the standards of the group. Humans, who associate themselves with a specific group or multiple groups of people, tend to imitate the characteristics and behaviors (e.g. norms) of the group to evade social rejection by improving...

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