Influential Behavior

Topics: Social influence, Social psychology, Obesity Pages: 6 (1352 words) Published: April 29, 2014
Influential Behavior
There are several influences that affect the choices people make. Group dynamics push and pull, as family and friends have influence on how an individual builds his or her identity. Circumstances arise to set a stage for behavior to play out. A social situation may be that of a large or small gathering. How an individual portrays himself or herself within a large group often differs from how he or she holds themselves in a one-on-one situation or even by himself or herself. It is true, human behavior changes with different social circumstances. Overeating

Most industrialized countries today are facing an epidemic of citizens becoming overweight or even obese (McFerran, Dahl, Fitzsimmons, & Morales, 2010). Some theorize what is causing this is people being more sedentary in their lifestyle choices or possibly genetic factors (McFerran et al., 2010). Most research points toward the main reason behind the epidemic as over-consumption of both food and drink (McFerran et al., 2010). Certainly social circumstances highly influence humans’ eating behaviors. McFerran et al. (2010) asserts “food choice, like many other behaviors in consumption domains, is strongly subject to interpersonal influences, with people choosing larger (or smaller) portions after viewing another consumer doing likewise” (p. 915). In the United States, during the winter holiday season, there are many social situations full of delicious goodies to devour. Family gatherings, neighbors offering good wishes with a plate of gooey delightfulness, and the traditional holiday party, provide ample opportunity to overeat. Several websites and magazines provide tips and tricks to avoiding the additional holiday bulge. Mintle (n.d.) suggests eating a snack before the party to avoid eating too much while in attendance. Unfortunately, the snack beforehand may turn into the appetizer before the appetizers as multiple research projects confirm overeating is mainly to blame for obesity (McFerran et al., 2010; Warner, 2005-2012). There has been a logical assumption that the sedentary lifestyle coupled with overconsumption of calories has led to a heavy American population (Warner, 2005-2012). Warner (2005-2012) reports Boyd Swinborn, chair of population health and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University in Australia referring to a recent report, “This study demonstrates that the weight gain in the American population seems to be virtually all explained by eating more calories. It appears that changes in physical activity played a minimal role” (para. 4).

Possibly another sign of unhealthy weight being an epidemic in the United States is the presence of game shows on reality T.V. One such show is The Biggest Loser. Some in the medical field appreciate that the show recognizes the multitude of issues contributing to weight gain and thus food addiction (Firestone, 1991-2012). According to Firestone (1991-2012), encouraging participants to understand the psychological origins and implications of his or her war with weight is important. Firestone (1991-2012) also states, “When it comes to our relationship with food, there is much more going on than we would often assume. Like any addictive substance, food is often used to cover over or subdue emotional pain. It is used to numb us or soothe us, yet it is also used to torment us or cause us anxiety” (para. 2).

One precursor to overeating is ironically, restrained eating (Ogden, 2012). One demonstration of this came through a study that “the results suggest that the restrained eaters responded to a high calorie preload with increased feelings of rebellious-ness, defiance, and a desire to challenge the limitations set by the diet” (Ogden, para. 1, 2012). In other words, restrained eating may have successful execution followed by an episode of overcompensation (Ogden, 2012). The result has been identified...

References: Cook, E. C., Buehler, C., & Henson, R. (2009). Parents and Peers as Social Influences
to Deter Antisocial Behavior
McFerran, B., Dahl, D. W., Fitzsimons, G. J., & Morales, A. C. (2010). I 'll Have What
She 's Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of
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