Explain How Groups Can Influence People in Positive and Negative Ways

Topics: Conformity, Muzafer Sherif, Social psychology Pages: 3 (949 words) Published: September 17, 2013
This essay will look at how being part of a group, or a membership, can influence people in positive and in negative ways. Included will be evidence that will show this from social and cultural perspectives.

Being part of a group can give an individual a sense of security, a boost to their self-esteem and a feeling of belonging. They may see themselves as being part of an 'in-group'. Being part of a group that is seen as being better than others (an 'in-group'), can create a bond between the members. People of different races or religions, or rival gangs, would be seen as being the 'out-group'. The sense of security and bonding with the other members can come from having people around you that are working with you, and knowing that you have somebody looking out for you if and when things go wrong. Having people depending on you in a leadership role can give boost an individual's self esteem. There are many negatives that can come with being part of a group also. Peer pressure and the feeling of having to conform in ways in which may seem inappropriate, could cause members to go along with decisions and behaviour made, so that they fit in even though they know the outcomes won't possibly be the best ones. The pressure to conform in front of other members of a group was apparent in an experiment carried out by Solomon Asch in the 1950s. It showed how members of a group will go along with decisions that others make even though they know that it's not necessarily the correct choice. A small group were shown a picture of a line and then asked out of three other lines, which one was the same length. Several members of the group deliberately gave the wrong answer. They had been influenced by the experimenters. The results showed that the level of conformity grew when the answers were said out loud. The level of conformity decreased when the participants were asked to write down their answers in private. The members (not in on the experiment) clearly felt that they...
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