Collective behavior occurs when large numbers of people engage in a loosely organized activity. These activities can promote or obstruct social change through political activism or protests and can can occur in the potentially destructive forms such as riots. Religious revivals such as the First and Second Great Awakenings and moral panics like the one that lead to the Prohibition Era of the 1920s can also profoundly impact society. The collective behavior of fads tend to influence fashion and consumer behavior without leaving a lasting societal impact. Collective behavior can often result in peer pressure, which compels people to conform to group behavior or risk ostracism. While peer pressure impacts all age groups, adolescents are especially vulnerable to this type of collective behavior.
Because human beings are social and learn from observation rather than depending entirely on instinct, almost all aspects of human psychology and behavior are socially influenced. Languages, modes of dress, gender roles and avoided taboos are all agreed upon at a group level and form the basis of culture. All cultures vary, and each forms the basis for the attitudes, values and behaviors of its members. These are reinforced by social institutions and collective behavior. Within each culture, other social influences affect the behavior of its members.
Religious organizations are social groups that promote or forbid behaviors based on a shared set of beliefs. Regular attendance to group functions creates a sense of community and promotes adherence to group beliefs that is reinforced by teachings and the association of specific behaviors with spiritual reward or punishment. Religious groups often establish rules governing sexual behavior, food and interactions with others. In addition, psychologists have found correlations between religious affiliation and higher reported happiness as well as greater levels of self-regulation and self-control.
Mass media is a powerful tool to influence the attitudes and behavior of those who consume it. Commercial advertising, for example, uses tactics that encourage bandwagoning (the desire to be part of a group) and feelings of nostalgia to manipulate consumer activity. During elections, political advertisements and network campaign coverage influence voters and impact the political process. Decisions that news organizations make regarding how to present facts and what stories to broadcast can also impact voter attitudes toward a political issue or candidate.
Family interaction has a profound impact on an individual's childhood and adult behavior. Studies from institutions such as the University of Washington and North Carolina State University show that disciplinary methods, parental involvement and parental attitudes toward emotion can influence a child's social ability and behavior as well as the possibility of delinquent or criminal behavior. Language, social norms and moral values are all also acquired through early family interaction and influence behavior for an individual's lifetime.
- New Charter University: SO241: General Sociology
- Trinity University: A Sociological Social Psychology: Collective Behavior and the Social Psychologies of Social Institutions
- Psychological Bulletin: Religion, Self-Regulation, and Self-Control: Associations, Explanations, and Implications
- Georgetown University: Dr. Jonathan McDonald Ladd: Attitudes Toward the News Media and Voting Behavior
- Bakersfield College: Advertising Techniques
- Illinois Wesleyan University: The Effects of Family, Social and Background Factors on Children's Educational Attainment
- University of Washington: Family Dynamics Through Childhood: A Sibling Model of Behavior Problems
- NC State University: Family, Affect, Belief and Behaviors Lab - Current Projects
- Aspen Education Group: Peer Pressure
- Photo Credit monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images
Social Influences on Consumer Behavior
It's no secret that the social interaction of today's consumer has a great influence on her purchasing choices. Social experiences such as...
Theory of Social Influence
The theory of social influence states that behavior is intentionally or unintentionally influenced by others. By understanding social influence, you might be...
Social Factors in Consumer Behavior
Social Influences on Consumer Behavior. Social Influences on Consumer Behavior. It's no secret that the social interaction of today's consumer has a...
Four Types of Orbitals & Their Shapes
Atoms are composed of a heavy nucleus surrounded by light electrons. The behavior of the electrons is governed by the rules of...
5 Economic Factors that Influence People's Behavior
Social Influences on Human Behavior. money; health; More eHow; Featured: Holiday Life Skills Gadget Guide. eHow; Culture & Society; ...
How to Change Behavior & Attitude
Behavioral Theories of Attitude Change. Social psychologists ... Those with bad attitudes do the opposite, looking at situations and ... How Attitudes...
Roots of Organizational Behavior
Organizational behavior (OB) is an interdisciplinary management field that seeks to understand and influence human behavior in organizations. Organizational behavior ...
Social Factors That Influence Language
All languages have different varieties that speakers use in different situations, and some varieties are more appropriate than others, depending upon the...
What Type of Scientist Studies Human Behavior?
What Type of Scientist Studies Human Behavior?. ... of social groups. This area of human behavior ... new trends by predicting changes...
Behavioral Theories of Attitude Change
Social psychologists define attitude as your reaction to a person, ... Behavioral theory studies how rewards and punishment influence behavior, including attitude...
How Sociological Factors Affect a Person's Behavior
Sociology seeks to explain human behavior by examining the roles of ... someone's circumstances may impact his behavior. ... Behavior Social &...