Fitting in Is a Lifelong Annoying Struggle

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The chapter in the textbook that I think I will find most useful five years from now is chapter 13, which is an overview of social psychology. The chapter was meaningful to me because I have always been interested in how people are influenced by other people. I remember really dreading going to school when I was younger not because I didn't like homework and assignments but rather the fact that I didn't like how I had to make such an effort to make people accept me and be interested in me. What was so frustrating is that I was trying to impress kids that I didn't even like, and so I would find myself confused, asking questions like: Why not just keep to yourself? Why do you care what they think if you don't even like them? Although I found having them stressful and tiresome I always had a group of friends throughout my K-12 experience. However, when friends would call me I often would ignore the call or I would answer but make up an excuse for why I couldn't hang out and I only slept over and certain friends' houses. So why have a group of friends when it caused me so much tiresome work? Looking to the chapter in the text on social psychology I came up with some plausible explanations. Perhaps I was being influenced by conformity, which in our text is defined as "the tendency of people to alter their behavior as a result of group pressure." Everyone I encountered at school seemed to enjoy being around other people, nobody ever really ate or played alone and if they did they were classified as "weird kids." So from the start I decided to assimilate into the group. Even though I often didn't like to do what my friends wanted to do I would still participate because I liked that feeling a lot better than the thought of how I would feel if people viewed me as weird or antisocial.
This feeling could have been a result of fear for not being a part of a group, which was also discussed in chapter 13. The author looked at studies showing the atrocities that can be committed within the safety of a group that gives an individual the feeling of deindividualization. When usual identities are stripped from us, we often end up acting atypicially, which was the case of the guards in both Abu Ghirab and Palo Alto. Schools can act as similar places when a group of children obtain a sense of power, and that's why I think kids are so desperate to find a group. In a group one can find support on both a physical and emotional level. This ties into another reason people desire to be part of a group, according to Baumeister and Leary's 1995 need-to-belong theory, studies showed that we have a biologically based need for interpersonal connections.
Although I am now more comfortable sitting by myself in classes and doing tasks on my own I always find myself concerned with how I'm being perceived. I think in five years time I will be more comfortable with the concept that I don't need to be friends with everyone, this chapter has helped me realize why groups seem like such a comfortable concept to people, but I've found that a tight knit group of good friends is what makes me happiest and most at ease.

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This page contains a single entry by coste087 published on December 4, 2011 10:10 PM.

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