Opinions and social pressure thesis

Pressure to be perfect. To look perfect, act perfect, have the perfect body, have the perfect group of friends, the perfect amount of likes on Instagram.

Social media is harming the mental health of teenagers. The state has to act

Perfect, perfect, perfect. What is really worrying is that time and time again, these studies pop up and demonstrate that the mental health of teenagers, especially teenage girls, is on the line. We know this. We know these things. We know that these studies demonstrate that we have to make personal, social and health education PSHE statutory in schools and ensure it covers a range of issues from healthy eating and sleeping to consent.

And yet, Nicky Morgan and the government refuse to act. So I ask: what are we waiting for? Inaction on these issues is harming the physical and emotional wellbeing of young people in this country. What has to happen before we do something? Topics Mental health Opinion. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular.


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It remains unknown if the effects of social conformity pressures on political opinions are conditioned by the personal nature of the locus of pressure. To be sure, social conformity is a difficult concept to measure without live interaction. An observational approach makes it difficult to untangle if or how social pressure independently affects behaviors given these variegated casual mechanisms, and whether changes in opinion that result from social interaction are due to compliance or private acceptance.

Nevertheless, experiments provide one means to gain insight into how and why opinion change occurs. Here, we undertake an experiment to test the extent to which opinion change is due to persuasion through new information, social conformity pressure, or a combination of the two in a more realistic extended discussion environment.

Both observational and experimental research has addressed different aspects of the impact of socially-delivered information on individual behavior. Observational analyses of social networks form the backbone of much of the recent research on social influence and political behavior. Sinclair [ 22 ], for instance, demonstrates that citizen networks convey a bounded set of political information.

Individuals may turn to highly informed peers [ 23 ] or aggregate information from trusted friends and family [ 24 ] in order to reduce the cost of gathering the information required to engage in political behavior e. In turning to their network, they are open to privately accepting this useful information. Political information, however, is not the only type of information transmitted through personal networks.

Social pressure helps the network induce compliance with desired social norms [ 25 — 27 ]. Individuals that are concerned about whether or not the group will continue to accept them therefore conform out of a desire to be liked, broadly defined. Norms are often self-enforcing, with merely the perceived threat of potential sanctions being enough to regulate behavior through compliance and self-sanctioning [ 28 , 29 ]. The debate over the practicality and reality of deliberative democracy further highlights the importance of understanding the role of political conformity in public and elite discourse.

Scholars and theorists argue that political decisions are improved and legitimized under a deliberative process [ 30 — 34 ], even though deliberation does not necessarily result in consensus [ 35 ]. The crux of democratic deliberation is that participants are engaging in a rational discussion of a political topic, which provides the opportunity for each to learn from the others and thus privately update their preferences i.

It results in a collectively rational enterprise that allows groups to overcome the bounded rationality of individuals that would otherwise yield suboptimal decisions [ 36 ]. This requires participants to fully engage and freely share the information that they have with the group. Hibbing and Theiss-Morse [ 37 ], however, raise important questions about the desirability of deliberation among the public.

Using focus groups, they find that citizens more often than not wish to disengage from discussion when they face opposition to their opinions.

In this view, deliberative environments do not ensure the optimal outcome, and can even result in suboptimal outcomes. In fact, the authors point directly to the issue of intra-group conformity due to compliance as a culprit for this phenomenon. The coercive influence of social pressure during deliberation has been further identified in jury deliberations [ 38 , 39 ] and other small group settings [ 40 ].

Beyond politics, there is experimental evidence of the propensity to conform out of a desire to either be liked or to be right [ 25 , 41 — 45 ]. Using a simple focus group format and pictures of lines, Asch [ 1 , 2 ] demonstrated that individuals would comply with the beliefs of their peers due to a desire to be accepted by the group, even if they disagree and even when they believe the group opinion does not match reality.

An insight into Human Psychology?

To do this, Asch asked eight members of a group to evaluate two sets of lines. The lines were clearly either identical or different and group members were asked to identify whether there was a difference. Unknown to the participant, the seven other group members were confederates trained to act in concert. At a given point in the study, the confederates began choosing the wrong answer to the question of whether the lines were equal. Consequently, the participant faced social pressure from a unified group every time they selected their answer.

Asch varied the behavior of the group, including the number of members and number of dissenting confederates. Participants often exhibited stress and many eventually complied with the group consensus, even though the group was objectively wrong and participants did not agree with them privately.

An insight into Human Psychology?

Using a much more complex and context-laden format—a youth summer camp with real campers—Sherif et al. In this case, the boys in the camp quickly coalesced into competing factions and initial outliers in the groups conformed out of a desire to win competitions i. While the groundbreaking Robbers Cave experiments revealed a great deal about group behavior well beyond conformity, we focus specifically on this particular aspect of the findings, which have stood the test of time in numerous replications and extensions across a wide variety of social domains [ 46 — 52 ].

Further, Hock [ 54 ] critiques the Asch design for not replicating a real life situation. He only utilized men in his study and did not allow for repeated discussion to assess how long participants hold up to conformity pressure. In a more recent study, Levitan and Verhulst [ 55 ]found persistence in political attitude change after interaction with a unanimously-opposing group, but they did not incorporate any discussion. Our experiment builds on these works by examining the micro-process underlying opinion change for a politically charged topic discussed in a real context.

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A Summary of Solomon Asch's Article Opinions and Social Pressure | Kibin

We bridge between studies that allow for no discussion with those that study day-long deliberations in order to determine if group influence has a stronger effect, even when the discussion centers on an attitude closely tied with social identity. Our interaction of about an hour simulates a likely real-world example of dialogue. More importantly, our design allows us to speak to the debate over social influence by pulling apart the desires to be right private acceptance and liked compliance. We expect conformity pressure and information to have joint and independent effects on opinion change.

Thus the average treatment effect recovered can mask substantively important heterogeneity [ 56 , 57 ]. In order to address this possibility we test three factors that have been previously identified as covarying with the average propensity to conform: personality traits, self-esteem, and ideology. The most consistent evidence points towards those who change their opinions as being generally more agreeable, neurotic, and having lower self-esteem [ 58 ]. Generating hypotheses regarding the import of other personality and ideological dispositions on opinion change for political, moral and identity-laden topics is more complicated.

Extant research indicates support for both stability and change for these traits and differs in the source of that change, i. For example, on the one hand we might expect those who are more politically conservative to be more likely to conform to the group overtly, given extant studies showing conservatives think less negatively toward conformity and comply more often to group pressure and norms [ 59 — 61 ]. In addition, conservatives are also higher on the Conscientiousness personality trait, and this trait both reflects and is related to more conformist behavior [ 62 — 64 ].

In a similar manner, those high in openness and more politically liberal, while more likely to take in new information, and thus possibly more likely to privately accept it, are also less prone to restrictive conformity, and thus possibly less likely to conform publicly [ 67 ]. We treat these propositions as secondary hypotheses, and explore their import in a limited manner given restrictions in the data.

In order to explicate the independent and joint effects of compliance and private acceptance, we designed an experiment, conducted at the Pennsylvania State University from May to December of , which placed participants in a deliberative environment where they faced unified opposition to their expressed opinion on a political topic that is relevant to their local community. The group discussed the topic openly, for approximately 30—45 minutes, also allowing us to assess participant behavior throughout the discussion.

We discuss the specifics in more detail below. Previous research demonstrates that undergraduates may not have as clearly defined political attitudes as older adults on many topics and thus may be more susceptible to conformity pressure from peers due to non-attitudes [ 68 ].


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We begin by providing some background on this issue and its connection to identity and politics. The first week of November was a whirlwind for students at Penn State. Police arrested former defensive coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sexual abuse following the release of a grand jury report by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.

Immediately after the firings and suspensions, students poured into campus and downtown State College, causing damage and flipping a news van [ 69 ].