Group Influences in Society

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What is the influence of other group member’s opinions on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of an individual. What if we are not sure how to act in a certain situation. As stated in the text “we know other people conform, we underestimate the extent to which we can be induced to follow the group” (Aronson, p. 23,2012). Groups have influence on ambiguous and unambiguous situations. In an individualistic culture, such as that of the US, conformity connotes something negative.

However as a society we still need to master the world, and be connect by others. Thus people conform to the opinion of other group members and yield to social norms. As stated by Aronson, in response to social influence the individual can be motivated by “rewards and punishments or by a need to know, and the relative permanence of the conforming behavior”(Aronsons,p. 35,2012). Social pressure can take be overt, or a more subtle unconscious influence.

As much as we like to think of ourselves as individuals, we are driven to fit in, and that usually means going with the flow of the group. In the syndicated cartoon, there are two sheep. Sheep are known to follow the herd, and often the term can be used as a synonym for conformist. The daughter sheep is holding shears, having shorn the wool off her midriff. As the mother looks on with displeasure, the daughter says “‘But Mom, all the girls are doing it'”, as a way to justify her behavior.

While some conform in order to get information as to what is socially acceptable in ambiguous situations, others, in the case of the sheep, conform in order to satisfy the “powerful need to belong” (Aronson,p. 27,2012). Aronson states that “acceptance and rejection are among the most powerful and most potent rewards and punishments for social animals”(Aronson,p. 28,2012). Thus the daughter sheep feels as though unless she conforms she might be cut off from protection of her group. Therefore giving her all the justification she needs to do something her mother disproves of.

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