Behaviorism explores ways in which observable behavior is learned and shaped by the environment (McAdams, D. P. , 2006). However, social influence refers to the influence of the presence of other people on thought, feeling, and behavior! “The effects of social influence from environments can have both positive and negative consequences. Each individual approaches situations with their own set of personal characteristics” (McAdams, D. P. , 2006); still, different aspects of influence determine how an individual may modify their behaviors to react in a given situation. Social Psychology

In the world of psychology social behavior is in everything that we do, oddly enough, even when the time comes that you find yourself alone at home and no one is around. Social psychology is the actions that we take, words we speak, whether with others or not, and knowledge we have. “Kurt Lewin pioneered the work in this area. His field theory proposed that a person is like a piece of iron floating in a world where it is influenced to move in various directions by electromagnetic forces from different sources” (Greathouse, 1997). Lewin says that a persons’ psychological activities occur within a kind of psychological field called, life space.

If you happen to be one of the lucky ones, your life space is determined by that of your own individual decisions and actions you take. Life space consists of all our past, present, and future happenings. For example, things we have done, what we do now, and what we will do, all of our emotions, feelings, and knowledge that we have and will learn, and the world experienced through reading books, watching movies, and what other people say; all aid in shaping who we are socially. Social Impact on Behavior Social impact theory on behavior was founded by Bibb Latane, he proposed that ertain facts determine how impacting a certain social interaction will be. He begins with the number of sources, the number of sources means the amount of people influencing you in a certain direction. For example, if both your parents want you to buy a town car instead of a large truck due to gas mileage and your friends agree you are more likely to buy the town car based on the amount of influences you have compared to if only one person, like maybe your spouse brings the idea up in conversation. Another thing to take under account would be how you feel about a particular person.

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If you do not have a positive relationship with the influences than you are less likely to do as they recommend, for example, you would take the opinion of a person closer to you than one that you hardly know. Lastly, group setting is less impacting than an individual, one on one situation. For example, when a teacher is giving a lecture and recommends furthering your education past the undergraduate level, his/her influence on you is considerably less than if he/she were to have a sit down, one on one talk with you (“The psychology of Social Impact,” 1981). Social Influences

When speaking of social influences an example could be that of the Harley Davidson bike riding association. When you are a Harley rider you are expected to not only dress, act, and ride a certain way but as well you are expected to ride in groups with other Harley riders. Most of the time you will see that Harley Davidson riders will be covered in dark tattoos, black leather jackets and pants, have their clothing covered in patches and possibly chains, and riding cruisers(kind of motorcycle). Some people assume that these types of riders are trouble makers because of the way they are joined in groups and by the way they appear.

Deborah Burger, a Harley Davidson instructor says that while working at Harley Davidson she has come across people that even assume Harley riders are crude in behavior and feel as though if they chose to take the riding class that Harley Davidson provides, they may me “picked on” or “beat up” by the Harley group. The social behavior seen in this sort of situation expresses false, negative impressions and intimidates others from wanting to be a part of or come around someone affiliated with the Harley rider groups. It is socially impacting on your behavior when you feel as though you must be on guard around these kinds of riders.

Your attitude and demeanor changes because of the social situation you are in is seemingly uncomfortable. If you were to run into a bunch of riders of a sports bike group your demeanor would be different than that of how you are around Harley riders because the situation is now changed from people all in black clothing, rough appearance, and tattoos, to a group of people that besides the bike standing next to them look like regular, every day people. You are now more comfortable and at ease. Its social situations like this that prompt changes in our behaviors.

Another example that Ashlee can personally relate to regarding social influences on behavior would be being involved in the team groups in her school. Each student is placed in a group where they are expected to complete at least one assignment with one another and as well participate via online conversations with their personal input in the matter at hand. When speaking of being in a group and social influences Ashlee feels that they run hand in hand because the influences of the group affect how one acts, expresses themselves, and how motivated they are in the group assignment based on the feedback of the group.

If in any given group the members attitudes are indifferent and handled rudely then another team member, like Ashlee for instance will be less intrigued to be a part of the group thus accomplishing nothing, whereas if the group all works together and encourages one another to complete the assignment the motivation is much higher and her attention is willing. By the group all working together and having positive attitudes with one another the assignment at hand is due to be completed on time, if not early.

On top of that better performance due to proper communication causes the assignment to be created more accurately due to everyone having positive feelings and being comfortable in the group setting. The social impact on a person in a group setting such as this is vital for if the impact is negative, the group in its entirety will lack in performance. Groupthink Group think is “a concept that was identified by Irving Janis that refers to faulty decision-making in a group” (Handwerk, 2005). Groups experiencing groupthink do not consider all alternatives and they desire unanimity at the xpense of quality decisions, this may be best demonstrated again via group situations or in the setting of the Harley Davidson rider crowd.

According to Janis some of the symptoms of “group think” are delusions of invulnerability, an illusion of unanimity, and not expressing your true feelings. “A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making. ” (Janis, Irving L. 1982). Conclusion Social Psychology is the scientific method concerning how people react in situations in which they are interacting with other people and to understand or explain why they act this way” (Kassin, 2005). These interactions can be positive, negative, or neutral. Most people prefer to have positive or neutral interactions. Social Psychology is a tricky one because it involves everything and cannot be summed up into one little behavior or definition. No matter the social influence, behaviors do change. They change based on which influence is present, environment, and the personal characteristics that may come into effect. Our behaviors change over time depending on these variables, and can become unpredictable as far as frequency, longevity, outcome, and how it may affect others within social norms of different cultures.


Greathouse, J. (1997). Kurt Lewin. Retrieved from http://muskingum. edu/~psych/psycweb/history/lewin. htm Handwerk, B. (2005). Sports Riots: The Psychology of Fan Mayhem. Retrieved from: http://news. ationalgeographic. com/news/2005/06/0620_050620_sportsriots. html Janis, Irving L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Second Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin. Kassin, S. (2005). Psychology. Retrieved from http://www. sampsoncc. edu/staff/pwolf/msnencartapsychology. htm McAdams, D. P. (2006). The person: A new introduction to personality psychology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. The psychology of Social Impact. (1981, April). Amercian Psychologist, 36(4), 1. PsycARTICLES.


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