Group influence refers to individuals who collude which each other and share set goals and norms together. The association we belong to has a greater influence on our behaviors and actions in our everyday lives in ways we do not think of.
“Influence is a term used to denote changes in the behavior of a person or group due to anticipation of the responses of others”. (Gould & Kolb, 1964, p. 332). A group starts with people who share different beliefs and have diverse opinions and views. Although homophily by gender is a usual thing in most associations.
Group influence makes people make a positive or negative choice. When a youngster notices people around are working, this inspires and prompts him/her to start working. A lot of information is hidden from people, but mingle with people will produce enlightenment and erudition about things they do not know and would be shared. Surprisingly, some might have been battling with different confusing issues. Hearing minute information can change many lives.
For instance, an individual who just migrates to a new country will be clueless about certain things. The person might get an expensive apartment but if she relates to people, getting a cheaper and better apartment will be easy because those people have experiences in that kind of situation.
Through this, expenses would be cut short and this will save more money as a result. Information is crucial, there are many opportunities out there that can benefit people, this can only be shared by a group of people who interact together. We cannot expect people who are strangers to tell us vital information, but it can only be shared in a group and, this also brings connection and various opportunities.
Group influence has constructive and destructive ways of impacting people and there are many reasons why people conform, which will be discussed below.
CAUSES OF GROUP INFLUENCE
Group influence stresses conformity. Conformity is a social influence involving a behavior change to fit in a group. People comply with a group to seem normal and not to seem defiant. Diverse experiments have been carried out by researchers to know the causes of group influence. A psychologist named Solomon Asch carried out a conformity experiment during the 1950s to see the power of group influence.
Eight subjects were involved in the experiments; some of the candidates that have been trained to give some reply to show the power of peer pressure. Each participant was asked to answer a series of questions, such as identifying the longest line, or the line which matched the reference line.
They give the right answers at first. But later, the real subject added an incorrect response to see how it would impact them. Over one-third of the people gave a wrong point of view.
The experiments showed the power of group influence, and the possibility of people to follow masses in their decision making. It is sometimes difficult for people to resists peer pressure because seeing many people doing the same thing and not going in their direction can make standing out difficult.
There is a saying that ”the majority carries the vote”. This means in as much as there are many people following an indistinct direction, that is what everybody would do, whether they are right or wrong it does not matter to them. The minority has no say over the majority through the lack of boldness to resist peer pressure which causes the majority to subjugate them.
Another conformity experiment was conducted by Jennes (1932), who is the first psychologist to study conformity. His research involves a glass bottle filled with beans.
He asked participants individually to estimate the number of beans the bottle contained and then tell them to do a group discussion.
Participants were then asked to determine the number again to find whether their first assessments had changed based on the majority’s influence. After that, he interviewed the participants one after the order and asked if they would like to change their calculations or stay with the group’s estimation.
Surprisingly, almost all of them changed their guesses to be similar to the group estimate. All the experiments performed by researchers have explained the tremendous power of group influence. “The brain’s neurotransmitter system and the glandular system of our body are stimulated by the presence of others.
The response is expressed in the form of an increased heartbeat and blood pressure making us more attentive and mobile”. (Innes 1993). When a person communicates and spends time with others for an extended period, it affects the brain according to Innes.
ADVANTAGES OF GROUP INFLUENCE
Group influences have infinite advantages that influence people in positive ways. Peer influence makes people have a sense of belonging through the bond they share. This makes people feel secure especially when the group has a defined purpose and has set goals to achieve.
There would be an assurance that people are rooting for you when things go wrong. People feel connected when they are in a group. It creates an avenue for learning in which innumerable numbers of opinions are shared and this serves as an opportunity to learn about each other’s perspective. Having people to depend on can increase a person’s self-esteem especially those who are weaklings and do not have the strength to participate.
For instance, a student who scores low grades while his/her other colleagues got high grades would be feel bad and know there is a need to buckle up, and to put more effort next time to score higher. Through this, he/she will know getting good grades is important.
So, this shows the power of group influence and how a group can impact us positively. Assuming every other student got low grades, he/she will not feel bad about it and this can cause reluctance because the student will think everybody is right. Society’s influence plays a huge role in our cognitive behaviors and thereby shapes our personality which is the way we think, reason, and behaves.
A student might think volunteer jobs are not too good because there is no pay attributed therefore, there is no need to do so, seeing others volunteering in organizations and project teams can develop an interest in participating. So, this would be a great bonus later if an individual is seeking a job because one of the most employer’s requirements is work experience. Job seekers who have many experiences in the field always obtain jobs faster than someone who has none.
Also, when an employer now knows it is volunteer work experience in which there is no pay, this would make some qualities obvious such as hardworking, diligence, and many more, and serve as a piece of evidence. In a resume, people write all their qualities but, the volunteer work experiences would show the evidence.
Group influence is advantageous for example, if a group values living healthy, an individual will be encouraged to also live healthy by eating healthy food and being physically fit through exercise. This serves as a motivation in the fitness journey, and improve a person’s way of living forever.
Group influence makes people feel free to share their ideas, opinions, and views. A beneficial peer group helps people develop a good habit. A well-behaved person will attract people and elders in society will be fond of them. Through this, an individual will enjoy different benefits which include but not limited to respectfulness and humbleness.
DISADVANTAGES OF GROUP INFLUENCE
Group influence is like two sides of a coin which have advantages and disadvantages. The disadvantages include peer pressure in which people follow masses even though they knew they are mistaken, but they follow not to be left out. Such as cigarette smoking, drug-abusing, and lots more.
People are impacted negatively when they keep bad company. And this inculcates and influence bad behavior in people’s lives. An individual can fail woefully and still be excited instead of thriving to make changes if the group he/she belongs to a group that does not value success. Furthermore, peer pressure causes people to make some poor decisions. An individual can give out money that is unaffordable to impress people because others are giving out much money.
Doing this can backlash on the person’s pocket and causes suffering. Many people like showing off levels they have not yet attained. Many youths feel pressured to live the way their peers are living, what some youths worry about is how to buy the latest phone either through stealing, cheating, or any other destructive ways, just to let people know they are rich. Buying the latest phones is good when it is something a person can afford.
As we know that all fingers are not equal. Some people can live expensively without any fear whatsoever but many people cannot afford to live that way especially those who are low-income earners. Some see it as a competition whereby they have to dress like others in order not to feel inferior.