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Social influences

Created by Shreena Desai.

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Video transcript

Voiceover: All right, let's dive right into the last topic that we're gonna look at under self-identity. So in this video we're going to take a look at how imitation, roles, reference groups, and culture are all parts of social influence. And this falls under the branch of social psychology. So social influence is a major topic in social psychology, and it looks at how individual thoughts, actions, and feelings are influenced by social groups. So here's our individual, and these houses represent the social groups or society in which the individual interacts. So imitation is the first topic that we're gonna look at. And imitation is referred to, or is a type of individual social influence. So, let's just write imitation in here. Imitation is basically one of the most basic forms of social behavior. It's when we're copying someone else. And it begins with an understanding that there's a difference between others and ourselves. So other psychologists have argued that this understanding in difference between ourselves, our own bodies and others, doesn't occur until a few months or maybe even a few years into childhood, while other theorists say it happens once we are born. Now in 1977, one man named Andrew Meltzoff published a study that questioned the theory that said an understanding between self and others happens a few months after birth. So picture yourself playing with a tiny baby. Let's draw a tiny baby down here. So picture yourself playing with him or her, and picture, and now to be more specific the baby's between 12 and 21 days old. Okay, so now stick out your tongue at the baby. What happens? Well, I'm sure the baby copied you and stuck out their tongue. That's the experiment that Meltzoff did, and he found that babies were really imitating the experimenter. So there was this connection, this imitation between individuals. So, the baby was really sticking out their tongue versus opening their mouth for some other reason. So here's the next question. Was this true imitation or was it something that can't be considered social interaction. Well, now picture yourself playing with the baby again. This time imagine yourself opening your mouth. What does the baby do? Well the baby should also open their mouth. They don't stick out their tongue this time. So by this situation we know the baby wasn't getting excited just by our presence. So Meltzoff had to ensure that this imitation wasn't a reflex either or just the baby being conditioned by our presence. So when the baby had a pacifier in their mouth while the experimenter stuck out their tongue, the baby still imitated them after the pacifier was taken out a short time later. And the last condition in this experiment was that the experimenter's facial expressions had to be blank during the time the baby was responding, because the subtle differences had to be controlled just in case to be sure that true imitation was actually occurring. So we've even seen this, numerous studies numerous experiments have been replicated many, many times and we've even seen this in baby monkeys that are also social species just like us. So from very early on, like I said, between 12 and 21 days of age, these babies have a concept of themselves, of their own bodies in relation to others and can copy other people. So basically this suggests that we are born with a built in capacity to imitate others. So much of what we learn early on is from each other. It suggests a built in social mechanism which is critical for our species. So I'm not going to get too much into detail on this next word I'm gonna bring up called mirror neurons cuz it's much more physiological but these mirror neurons have also fascinated scientists, because basically, what they do is, when one fires, when we act, another is fired when we observe the same action performed by another person. So essentially these neurons are mirroring the behavior of the other. And they have been found in areas of our brain such as the somatosensory cortex and the motor and premotor cortex so they can be helpful in understanding imitation further. The next individual aspect of social influence is the importance of roles. So we all have many roles in our life. Through, and we can represent this, through sll the different hats we probably wear. Maybe we're a brother, a sister, a doctor, or teacher, a friend, a social worker, whatever it may be. We have different roles. We don't usually, we don't just have one role. Indepen, and they define who we are and what we do. So if each social role, we adopt different behavior changes to fit the expectation that both we and others, the other part is very important, have of that role. So maybe another word you've heard that's more familiar, is the term social norm. So social norms are the accepted standards of behavior of social groups. There are norms defining appropriate behavior for every social group. And as an individual moves from one to the next to the next, their behavior's also going to change accordingly. So, norms are really important because they provide order in society. And we use it to guide and direct our behavior as appropriate. So we conform to the expectations of others, we respond to their approval when we play our role as well. So it's like a big thumbs up. And then we have we get the disapproval from others when we perform our roles badly. So the presence of these others, these other people, who can fall under these different houses over here. So the presence of these other people seem to also make a difference in setting up expectations. Now we don't expect people to behave randomly and just do random things, but to behave in a certain way, in a certain situation that fits that role. And usually, we have these expectation even more when the roles are strongly stereotyped. So there was this famous experiment done, called the Philip Zimbardo Stanford prison experiment, sorry. And it's actually highly controversial, but it explains this role of roles for a lack of a better role, term. It explains this concept of social roles a lot better. So here's the prison. So in this example, being in a prison environment caused the participants who are role playing as guards in this study to be a lot more or, authoritative, sadistic, and even they felt they had the power to do what they wanted to the prisoners. Very vulgar things. They just felt they had that power due to their role. And the people playing the prisoners began to feel submissive, timid, scared towards the guards. And they even would suck up to the guards. By tattletaling on the other prisoners as a result of the role playing. So these were the expectations of the prisoners or the expectations they thought they had, and so they tried fulfilling those roles for approval by the guards. Now this prison environment was an important factor in creating the guards brutal behavior as well. So you see that interaction between the environment already and an individual. Now none of the participants who acted as guards showed these sadistic tendencies before the study. So that just shows how roles can play an important part in our behaviors and attitudes. Now moving on toward group influence, we have a term called reference groups. Now reference groups, you may have heard of them as well, is a term from social psychology identifying the group to which people refer or make reference in evaluating themselves. So, it's any group to which we can go to, our person refers to through the group's beliefs or their attitudes or their behaviors. So we are constantly looking for these external groups that align with our own beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. And we're going to refer to them when we want to form or make a decision to influence our own beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. So for example, someone may refer to a social science students reference group when we're trying to decide what political party to vote for, during an election. Another could be referring to a feminist's reference group when we're deciding whether or not to change our name after marriage if you're female. So why are these reference groups important? Well, any person or group that serves as a point of comparison for an individual, and the formation of general or specific values influences our social decisions. So have you ever gone shopping for a gift or out to buy a new car? You're gonna bring your reference group with you. What I mean by this is not a whole posse of people. You may, you may bring someone that you look up to, like a parent, to ask for advice. But, subconsciously we have these attitudes and beliefs formed, and it's where we seek to get this advice or to satisfy the expectations of others, to be like someone we admire or to get some sort of approval, to some degree. So these reference groups at some level of aspiration. So, we can just write that to remember. And the last but not least part of cul, social influence is called culture and socialization. And we couldn't, this seems like a very broad concept, which it is. But basically, we can refer to the sociocultural theory to help explain the influence that those around us have on our development on a broader scale. So it looks at the important contributions that society, these houses, these people around us, make to this individual development. It emphasizes the interaction between developing people and the culture in which we live. So, all of these interactions are important, whether it's between individuals or a group of people, whatever it may be. Our parents, our peers, our neighbors, teachers, coworkers, they all influence our social identity development, and on an even larger scale, the country in which we live, the language, the communities in which we live, the attitudes and values of the groups we belong to. They all affect our behaviors in learning as individuals in this large social.