Human behavior has been identified to be affected and influenced by those they interact with as their immediate family members, friends and co- workers, peer group etc. thus, ones id (identity) can be influenced by the group which he/ she belongs to; i. e the influence comes from his ego and super ego. Social psychology as a field of study has helped in studying how an individual’s behavior is been influenced in a group setting. In other words, it is the study of how a person tends to behave in a group he belongs to and how the group influences his behavior.
This write- up tends to carry out an explanation of observation of individual behavioral changes I observed in my place of work. The fact that I work in the United states Navy; at the naval hospital in Bethesda MD, I have come across many people and how their initial behavior are changed by the group the peer up with. DESCRIPTION OF OBSERVATION For a number of years now that I have been with the United State Navy, I observed in three occasions how behavior of co-workers are bei8ng influenced by the group they tend to interact with and keep as their friends.
It is interesting to note that some came workers came shy, an introvert and keep to themselves, the period they are recruited or posted to the naval station. But, as they began to interact gradually and over a period of time, they become bold, never keeping to themselves as before, very outspoken and mix up with other co- workers; a outcry of their former selves. Another incident that I observed which buttress the fact that group can influence ones behavior, is the case where a young naval staff came to join our naval station. He was a non-smoker at the time he came.
As time goes by, he became friendly with other two co-workers of ours. Within a span of four months this non-smoker has cultivated the habit of smoking, as results of these two friends of his are smokers. A close observation shows that the he came from a Christian family who abhor smoking. This has made him remain a non- smoker the number of years he was with his parents and other siblings. Now that he was faced with another different group, his behavior was being influenced now he smokes. The above illustration shows that group has the effect of influencing an individual behavior and his perception about an issue.
Sometimes people’s perceptions about an issue or another group tend to be influenced by the group they belong to. For instance a person who do not have any negative stereotype about a particular group A, but on his belonging to group B, his perception about group A is changed due to the influence and orientation he got from group B. now he will start to stereotype members of group B in a particular fashion. How social psychology adis in the study of individual behavior in a group setting As earlier stated, social psychology is the study of individual behavior in a group setting.
Here, the study can be carried out through field survey or observational experiments. Under the observational experiments, the observer can either be a participant in the group activities, while he observe and take note of his observation, or he can be a non- participatory observer who stands outside the group’s activities and observe them. Theories propounded by social psychologists are of immense assistance when it comes to studying individual behavior in a group setting. Two prominent ones among them are the social learning theory and the social cognitive theory.
The social learning theory explains human behavior in terms of continuous reciprocal interaction between cognitive behavioral, an environmental influences. (Bandura , 1989). According to Stone (1998), “The social learning theory evolved under the umbrella of behaviorism, which is a cluster of psychological theories intended to explain why people and animals behave the way they do”. Thus, the social learning theory is seen to emphasize the importance of observing and modeling the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others.
Here, it gives a foresight on how individual’s behavior is being modeled through the mediator (i. e, the human cognitive) and the stimulus and responses which places the individual control over his behavior towards the stimuli. The social cognitive theory, which is a theory that sprang from the social learning theory, is defined as having to the aim of studying the individual within a social or cultural context and focuses on how people perceive and interpret information they generate themselves or that which they generate from others.
The social cognitive theory defines the human behavior as a triadic, dynamic, and reciprocal interaction of personal factors, behavior, and the environment. (Bandura , 1989). Thus, with the aid of these theories application, the observation of an individual behavior in a group setting becomes easy to conduct. Hence, theories in the social psychology field helps in the conduct of the observation of individual behavior how it is being influenced by the group they belong to. SELECTION ODF SAMPLE FOR THE OBSERVATION.
In the course of conducting an observation as the one illustrated, it becomes germane that the individual is observed in a small group setti9ng so that the best results can be obtained. Also, the observer will be in a better position to link up cause and effect of an issue that sprang up on the course of his study. This will also give the observer the ability to note external influences that tend to act on what he is observing. Using a large group in this instance will not provide the observer the ability to separate external influences from what he is observing. RESERCH METHODS SITUABLE FOR ADOPTION.
In this kind of observation illustrated in this write- up, the observational participatory approach is more suitable. When the observer partakes in the activities of the group he is studying, this gives him an advantage position to get detailed and specific information as it unfolds. Also, the observer will get to take note as the changes in behavioral pattern take it form. This will also make him know the time span while it lasted before it occurs. In the course of the observer participating in the group activities, it becomes germane that he conceals the fact that he is studying the group.
This will make him get a better result from his observation; so as to prevent faking of attitude and behavior. THE IMPORTANCE OF CONDUCTING A BAIS FREE OBSERVATION. When a research work or an observation is conducted based on bias and observer subjective view, the result from the research will be fallacious and based on wrong conclusion. Thus, it becomes important that the observer keeps away his personal subjective view and work out his observation base on the true nature of the outcome of what he is studying.
A biased research or observation is one that its conclusions are faulty and unacceptable in giving an objective result of the observation. POTENTIAL ETHICAL DILEMMA From an observation such as the one illustrated in this write- up, the identified dilemma that could occur include; when the antecedences of the individual under study is not known. This means that the result and conclusion we tend to draw would not be accurate. Since the individual’s antecedences tend to be a determinant and contributory factor on how he behaves. It is then germane that the antecedences of the researched are known.
Another ethical dilemma that could occur is when the observer is bias and introduces his subjective view in the conduct of the observation. Furthermore, external influences should be prevented from reacting on the observation. This should be excluded when observation notes are being taken.
Bandura , A. (1989), “ Social Cognitive Theory” in annals of Child Development. Vol. 6, Vasta R (Ed. ). Greenwich, CT: Jai Press Ltd. Stone, Danice (1998),“Social Cognitive Theory” (http://hsc. usf. edu/~kmbrown/social_cognitive_theory_overview. htm) (11/11/2005).