Perspectiveof Social Psychology in Regards to an Individual’s Behavior
Socialpsychology is concerned with the understanding of what determineshuman behavior in social contexts. The focus of the field is thecauses and nature of how individuals behave in situations that can beconsidered as social. The behavior of humans is influenced by thesocial context in which it occurs, as well as other people. There areseveral perspectives about human behavior. They include behaviorist,psychodynamic and humanism perspectives. Based on behaviorism, humanbehavior is influenced by the environment and what they learn fromtheir surroundings. The behaviorist approach holds that observablebehavior in humans is affected by factors within the environment.Under this perspective, humans learn from the environment throughoperant and classical conditioning. Operating conditioning wasdeveloped by B. F Skinner and argues that positive behaviors arerewarded while negative ones are punished. Ivan Pavlov’s classicalconditioning holds that humans learn behavior through association.Behavior is classical conditioning is involuntary and is triggered byneutral stimuli (Myers, 2014).
Anotherperspective that explains human behavior is the psychodynamicperspective, which was proposed by Sigmund Freud. The approach arguesthat the experiences a person had during their childhood can affecttheir adult behavior. Freud asserts that people do not have thefreedom to make informed choices about their lives. Rather, it is theunconscious mind that determines human behavior. The personality ofadults is influenced by the experiences that a person had at earlystage of development. Freud primarily focuses on the stimulation ofvarious body parts. Too much stimulation or the lack of it in theearly developmental stages can have an impact later in life. Achild’s ability to go through all the developmental stagessuccessfully influences their capacity to develop behaviors, whichcan be considered appropriate based on their sexuality (Myers, 2016).
Thehumanistic perspective focuses on the human behavior by studying theperson as a whole. From this approach, the self-image and a person’sinner feelings are some of the crucial determinants of individualbehavior. This perspective holds that every individual is unique andcan change without being influenced by outside forces. The proponentsof this approach also argue that humans have the capacity toactualize themselves. This way, one can achieve greatly and exploittheir potential (Myers, 2016). The approach holds that a person’sbehavior is a reflection of what they feel. Humanists contend thatscientific methods are not appropriate for studying human behavior.Rather, it is the personal experiences that have a notable impact onhow people behave. The approach also emphasizes that the need forpersonal fulfillment is essential in motivating how people behave.
ThePower of Group Influence
Theexperiment by Solomon Asch was a study conducted with the aim ofunderstanding how peer pressure affects a person’s behavior. Eightsubjects took part in the experiment with each of them being askedquestions about the length of some lines. At first, the participantsanswered the questions correctly, but they later responded withincorrect answers. Asch evaluated how peer pressure affected theanswers given by the respondents. Based on the results of the study,it was apparent that peer pressure influenced the answers that theparticipants gave. The control group gave correct answers since theywere influenced by the responses from their peers. From theexperiment, Asch ascertained that conformity was common since peopletend to obey the rules of their social group. It is evident thatpressure from a group contributes to conformity. There is a tendencyto agree with members of a group even when most of them are wrong.The reason for doing so is to avoid ridicule from the rest. A groupmember can conform when he or she views others as influential andpowerful (McLeod,2016).
StanleyMilgram’s experiment also demonstrated the power of groupinfluence. The study sought to answer why civilians in Germany werewilling to take part in the atrocities, which were witnessed duringthe Holocaust. The psychologist demonstrated how authority affectedpeople’s decision to be obedient. During the experiment, thesubject was to teach some words to a learner. Any mistake from thelearner warranted a punishment in the form of electric shock. Of theall the participants in the study, most of them delivered theelectric shocks to the maximum levels. Although most of theparticipants were not happy with the experimenter, they had to followorders until the end of the experiment. Most of the participantsadmitted that they found the experiment fulfilling. This is becausethey were motivated by the others who took part in the study. Theexperiment demonstrated that compliance is achieved when there is afigure of authority. When peers were rebellious, the obedience levelswere low. This is an indication that a group influences a person’sactions (Myers, 2014).
ThePower of Roles and Prejudices as Seen by Social Psychologist
Zimbardoconducted an experiment in 1973 with the aim of establishing howroles and prejudices relate in the field of social psychology. Theresearch aimed at highlighting how people could conform to roles suchas being a guard and a prisoner. The researcher was also interestedin ascertaining whether the brutality experienced by prisonersresulted from the personality of the guards or the prison itself. Theparticipants in the study included students from Stanford Universitywho played the roles of guards and prisoners. During the experiment,the students who played the role of prisoners were treated likecriminals and subjected to arrests (Ratnesar,2017).The findings of the study indicated that both the prisoners andguards settled into their roles within a short time. However, a fewhours after the experiment began, prisoners were harassed by guardswho were brutal, but seemed to enjoy tormenting the incarceratedpersons.
Fromthe experiment, it is clear that roles and prejudices have a lot ofpower. The guards played their roles as instructed. They wereruthless since they were dealing with prisoners who are considered anuisance to the society. While fulfilling their roles, the guardswere fully in control of what was happening in the prison whileprisoners had to be obedient. After staying the in the prison forsome time, the prisoners adopted the behavior, which depicted theirlife as inmates. Based on the experiment, it is apparent that humanshave the tendency to conform to the social roles, which the societyexpected them to play. This is influenced by the fact that some rolescan be prejudiced, as is the case with prison guards. The behaviorexhibited by the guards in the prison was largely influenced by theenvironment within the facility. Social psychologists contend that anindividual can be carried away by the group norms to the extent thata sense of identity is lost (Ratnesar,2017).
De-individuation,Bystander Intervention, and Altruism
De-individuationis a situation whereby a person gets immersed into others to theextent that their self-awareness is lost. This concept implies thatpeople have the tendency to lose their self-restraint, especiallybecause their personal values are overshadowed by the action of thegroup. Individuals tend to engage in actions that they would notpartake while alone. Moreover, a person does not feel guilty fortheir actions since the behavior is motivated by the feeling ofoneness in the group. A perfect example of de-individuation is whensoldiers are involved in killing innocent civilians such as helplesswomen and children (Myers, 2014. If a soldier is asked what motivatedthem to do so, they would answer that they were following orders justlike any other member of the group. This concept is also evident inonline platforms whereby a member of a certain group can makenegative comments about others based on the stand of the majority intheir group.
Bystanderintervention refers to the help accorded to a needy person by someonewho is present in times of danger. Bystanders include onlookers whomight witness a person experiencing danger. There is a tendency forsuch people to either help the victim or fail to do so. Whenbystanders intervene, they play an essential role in preventing aharmful situation. For instance, they play a significant role instopping physical violence against victims. In online platforms, theyare vital in preventing negative comments about physical attributessuch as body size. Social media intervention is necessary foraddressing issues such as sexual violence and harassment of childrenand adults (Myers, 2016). This is achieved by criticizing negativecomments and posts, which promote behaviors that are sexuallyunacceptable. The intervention of bystanders is vital as it makes thevictim feel safe. In the age of social media, it is important tosupport people who are hurt by inappropriate comments.
Altruismrefers to engaging in behaviors that are directed at ensuring otherpeople benefit, as opposed to only caring for oneself. Altruisticpersons are not egocentric and do not take part in behaviors thatpromote selfish gains. Such people benefit others without having themotive of having the beneficiary reciprocate. Altruism is guided bythe belief that a person does not necessarily need to live on theirown, but also for others. This concept calls for the desire to helpand not an obligation on the part of the person helping others. Inpsychology, this concept can be classified as pro-social behaviorsince the person offering help acts in a selfless way. Social mediais crucial in promoting acts of altruism through sharing of ideas andinformation (Myers, 2016). For instance, through online platforms,people can be urged to take part in blood donation. Onlinerecognition can enable persons who have donated blood for the firsttime to continue doing so for a prolonged period.
SocialPsychology and the Events of Holy Week and the Parable of the GoodSamaritan
TheHoly Week is a sacred among Christians as it reminds them of the lastdays that Jesus spent on earth. More specifically, the main emphasisis the suffering that Jesus went through, as well as his Resurrectionfrom the dead. Psychologically, the events of the Holy Week depictthe selfless nature of Jesus. He gave up his life for the sake ofmasses and had to endure the suffering he was subjected to by thenon-believers. Christ did not expect any reciprocation from thepeople whose lives he saved by being killed. Rather, his onlyintention was to have people gain salvation. The events that takeplace during this week demonstrate the dedication of Christians totheir savior.
TheParable of the Good Samaritan can also be explained in psychologicalterms. This parable is a reflection of the human desire to help.Based on the events that took place in this situation, it is evidentthat some people are not willing to help since they are in a hurry.There are many bystanders, and although someone might have theability to be of assistance, they might not do so. Humans have thetendency not to offer a helping hand to people they do not know. Thisemanates from the fear that the condition of the stranger might getworse. People who refuse to offer assistance might feel guilty ofhaving left someone in danger. The story also reveals that not manypeople posses helping behavior as most would rather witness a personsuffering than assist (Myers, 2016).
AReflection on the Topics and Video Clips
Afterreading the topics in chapter 12 of the textbook and watching videoclips, there are several issues that provoked a reaction. The bookcontains crucial information about the error of fundamentalattribution. This concept relates to the overestimation of theinfluence that traits of other people have. Moreover, the chapterconsists of many topics in the field of social psychology, which areessential in explaining human behavior. Some of the relevant topicsdiscussed in the chapter include prejudice, bystander effect, andconformity. The video clips have rich information about crucialaspects of social psychology (Myers, 2014). The speakers arethought-provoking and made me understand that multiple factors thatinfluence human behavior. From the clips, it is evident that peoplebehave based on the situation they face.
Myers,D. (2014). Psychologyin Everyday Life (3rd ed.).New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
McLeod,S. (2016). AschExperiment. RetrievedFrom:
Ratnesar,R. (2017). TheMenace Within. RetrievedFrom: