For this essay, I will be discussing how groups of people that we have in our lives can affect us in both a positive and a negative way and how people identify with different groups, and drawing on appropriate evidence. Sharing some parts of our social identity can also influence people to behave or act in certain ways and membership of groups can be a positive influence on people, by helping to make us feel like we belong, giving us a sense of identity or status, increasing our self-esteem and giving us some sense of security and/or safety.
At the same time, we tend to take on a role within those groups and often feel the need to bend to peer pressure in order to conform to tendencies within those groups and act in ways in which we would not normally behave. This can lead to competitiveness, prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination against others outwith our social groups. I will now look at three extracts of experiments, mentioned in Spoors et al (2007), and describe how membership of groups can influence people both positively and negatively.
The first example of positive and negative influences within groups is taken from an extract from a book, whose title is “Kondo’s Story”, written by Dorinne Kondo as a personal account of her experience as a Japanese American who goes to live in Japan for 26 months to do some academic research, staying with a Japanese family and immersing herself in that culture. She found this experience challenging and quite disturbing at first as, through her interactions with Japanese people, she found she was being subtly trained in new ways of behaviour and routines.
She mentions that she identified roles for herself such as housewife, guest/daughter, young woman, granddaughter, student and prodigal Japanese. The social expectations that Kondo felt surrounded her included being subservient to the male of the household during meals – this included the head of the household being served first and receiving the finest delicacies – and that she had to adopt delicate, graceful body movements whilst carrying out a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Kondo described the positive feelings she experienced when her efforts to behave in a Japanese way met with approval and also described her negative feelings of conflict when she had to behave subserviently. In this way, although Kondo was not accustomed to the Japanese way of doing things, in time she began to feel more positively towards the Japanese family she was staying with, and began to enjoy behaving in a Japanese way. So by the end of her story she feels like she is both an American and Japanese woman.
An example of negative influences within groups includes a psychological experiment carried out by Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues in 1971 in regards to the power of roles within groups. Zimbardo and his colleagues set up a simulated prison situation and randomly assigned a group of male participants in ‘guard’ and ‘prisoner’ roles. The experiment was scheduled to last for two weeks but had to be stopped after six days, as the participants had all taken their roles too seriously and it had got out of hand.
The participants acting as ‘guards’ had become scarily brutal and abusive to their ‘prisoners’, whilst the participants, in their roles as ‘prisoners’ were becoming very docile and passive, showing signs of being emotionally disturbed. The findings from this experiment seemed to show how quickly people can revert from being non violent and level-headed to being prone to violence and being emotionally disturbed, due to the roles that they had been given.
Some psychologist have gone on to mention that the participants’ understanding of how prisoners and guards behave could have come from them watching popular films of the 1960’s such as The Great Escape or Cool Hand Luke. Alternatively, their understanding could also have come from how the participants imagined prisoners and guards to behave or come from stories that they heard from relatives about being a prisoner of war in World War II.
My last example, which involves positive and negative influences of people in groups, also comes from a series of experiments carried out by Muzafer Sherif et al (1961) that occurred during the 1950’s and 1960’s that involved a number of young boys at a summer camp. The experiment was started by splitting the boys into two groups. As expected, the boys in each group became closer and more competitive.
A competition, in the form of a tournament, was arranged by the experimenters and, although some group hostility and aggression occurred initially, other good traits stood out within their own groups, such as group loyalty, solidarity and co-operation. As the experiment progressed, the experimenters further manipulated the group situation by introducing activities that required both groups to work with each other in a positive way, which was extremely successful.
Experiments like this one show that group influence can be a positive one, leaving the boys in question with a sense of belonging and pride for their group. In conclusion, membership of groups can affect people in both positive and negative ways depending on the range of social influences within these groups. Evidence for positive influences has been drawn from Sherif’s Robbers Cave scenario, which gave the two groups of boys a sense of belonging and pride.
Similarly, within Kondo’s story, she states how happy she was to receive praise and acceptance for behaving in a proper Japanese way. Evidence of the negative influences of group membership was then drawn from Zimbardo’s prison experiment in which it was shown how quickly the participants went too far and got too involved with their supposed persona’s, with the ‘guards’ becoming violent and abusive and the ‘prisoners’ becoming docile and emotionally disturbed. Word Count:- 960 References:-Spoors P, Dyer EW, Findlay, L (2007) Starting with Psychology,
Milton Keynes the Open University 1. Briefly write down two or three pieces of feedback from your tutor on TMA01 • Learning Outcome 1 achieved. You have used the specialist terms appropriately and correctly in your essay. • Learning Outcome 3 achieved. The supporting evidence is used appropriately to back up your ideas. • Learning Outcomes 5 and 7 just achieved. A clear piece of work. However, there is no need to keep referring to course book. Just explain the research as book is listed at the end. 2.
How have you used that feedback in preparing for TMA02 I found it a great help by using a mind map to help plan my essay. I prepared for TMA02 by ensuring that I did not keep referring to the course book in my essay and just to explain the research. I also tried to ensure that supporting evidence in the form of experiments, taken from the course book, was used in the same way as it was in TMA01. Finally I tried to ensure that I used any specialist terms correctly. Word Count:- 150 ———————– Negative Influence Positive Influence Group Membership