Influence, Peer Pressure, Conformity, its all around us. These powerful social forces are shaping our beliefs and values. They are influencing our actions and behaviours. Most people don’t realize this but your peers and the people around you can have a great impact on what you think, feel, say and do. Research shows we do not have as much control over our thoughts and behaviour as we think. Are you making your decisions based on other peoples thinking? I hope to bring you a better understanding of how easily you can be influenced so you can be more aware of the choices you are making.
A social experiment was undertaken in 2017, Where a person was unknowingly asked a very obvious question for an experiment. Nine actors were hired to say the wrong answer to this question to see whether they would have an impact on the person’s answer. The question was like this (start drawing three lines on the white board), Three lines were drawn that were all different lengths, a forth line was drawn that was the same length as one of the original three. The question was asked, What line, A, B or C is the same as this line? All of the nine actors each gave the SAME wrong answer of C, when the person was then asked he responded with line C also, even known the answer was obviously B. So why? Why are we so influenced by other people? Why do we blindly follow trends and opinions that might not mean much to us? It seems like we are a culture obsessed with following trends no matter how pointless and meaningless they are.
If other people do it, that means it’s right, Right? People often find it hard to think and act independently in group situations. In a group there is a loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking, as it states in the Encyclopedia about group think. This is because there is a certain pressure in the social expectation that leads us into doing things to only make other people happy, because everyone wants to fit in, we want to be like others because we want to be accepted and we usually think that that’s the way to be accepted. We expect things from people and this makes people portray themselves as someone they aren’t. Take Idealisation for example, we idealize almost everything in the world. This happens when we create positive illusions by maximising the good and minimising the flaws. Its like we use the decisions of others to help us make our own decisions. My point is, we need to stop doing that, we need to stop idealising everything and having expectations of people. We need to be more confident in ourselves.
Influence and peer pressure don’t just apply to decisions, they also powerfully shape our beliefs and values, which influences our actions. Another example of this is conformity. We fall victim to conformity so easily, it plagues our society like a disease. Conformity is when we match our attitudes, what we believe, and how we behave, to those around us. It changes our behaviour to just follow, fit in and mimic the success of others. However individuality is lost when conformity takes its hold. Lets think of Abraham Lincoln, who took a stand above every other president and outlawed slavery. Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. If these great people fell victim to conformity, the world as we know it today would be a completely different place. It is these historic moments that highlight the fact that non conforming can change the course of history.
What others do shouldn’t concern us so much. Lets be individuals in this world and stand out, believe in yourself and be different. I want you all to be more aware that these influences are all around us. Make your own decisions and stand up for that, Don’t just be lead by the influence of others and what is around us. So Don’t be a sheep! Don’t give in to conformity or peer pressure.