Social Influences on Behavior

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An 1800’s novelist; Herman Merville wrote “We cannot live for ourselves alone, for our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads”. A social psychologist studies how the human behavior changes based on social situations. They closely analyze how people respond to the unexpected situations. As social beings we do this type of anyalizing everyday; questioning another persons actions, was that man flirting with me, did that woman just give me a dirty look? This essay will outline the basic concepts of the social influences on human behavior. People tend to follow the lead of others, if one person in a group stares out the window, soon others will follow this lead, or if there is one person yawning, laughing or even coughing, soon others will copy these actions. A bartender will put money in his own tip cup in order for it to appear that others have already tipped him, this “seed” money will elicite others to conform to giving a tip. Conformity is when we change our actions, thinking and behavior to match a group or individual. People comply for various reasons, such as to avoid rejection, to be accepted, or even to keep a job or social status. This type of behavior would be called normative social influences or the “social norm” expected normal social reactions and or behaviors directed by social influences. A person that refuses to conform to the social norms could face serious altercations, for example Rosa Parks a tired African American woman riding the bus refuses to give her seat to a white man. During that era this was unheard of and she was arrested and fined, ultimatly her actions gained followers and the Cival Rights Movement began. However, if it haden’t been for her brave actions to go against the social norm, society may have progressed in a much different direction. One person’s actions or behavior can have a tremendous impact on an entire culture or society as a whole. Another reason that people may conform is to learn, when working in a...
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