Social Influences On Behavior Essay

1311 words - 5 pages

Social Influences on Behavior
There are many social influences which have an effect or lasting effect on the behavior of an individual. Within many group scenarios, conformity and obedience play a large role in how people tend to think and behave, especially if they get carried away. Obedience refers to compliance to an authority figure or with others in a group. On the other hand, conformity refers to an individual changing their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors to accommodate with the standards of a group or their peers. Both of which are pure examples of how human behavior changes based on certain social situations. Obedience and conformity both occur during situations of social facilitation, social loafing, and groupthink.
Influence of Groups on Individuals
In situations of social facilitation, social loafing, or groupthink, individuals often have a tendency to change the way in which they think and/or behave.
Social facilitation refers to the tendency one has to perform better at a simple task when they are being observed by an authority figure or an audience. However, when the task is not simple or easy, they may perform worse because they become nervous or feel as though they are under too much pressure. A great example of social facilitation can be described using a study performed by Norman Triplett in 1898 in which he did a research study on cyclists. When the cyclists were racing against one another, rather than against a clock, their speed increased because they were competing with each other. This also explains the co-action effect, in which people will have an increase in their performance on a task when they are around others who are performing the same task. Another explanation could be the audience effect, which involves the presence of an audience that causes a rise in productivity.
In cases of social loafing, individuals often have a tendency to perform with less effort when they are part of a group. Depending on the size of the group, members will sometimes feel as if they can contribute less effort because they feel as though someone else will pick up their slack. However, when they have to work on a task individually, they hold more responsibility for their work. An example of this phenomenon can occur in our courses as we complete assignments for our learning teams. In our learning teams, people do not have to contribute as much work as they would during an individual assignment. This leads to some members putting in less effort because they know that as long as they put forth a small effort, their names will still be on the assignment and others will make up for their slacking to ensure a good grade.
The term groupthink was first used by social psychologist Irving L. Janis, whom described this phenomenon which members will strive for consensus within a group scenario. In this situation, people will set aside their personal beliefs, or even adopt the opinions of the rest of the group. This is often done to keep the...

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