Of course, society influences behavior. Society is made up of individuals who possess likes and dislikes. What is society anyway? Society is an output of social systems and structures which institutionalize us. We may not like to think of being institutionalized, but marriage is an institution sanctioned by society, voting is an institution, colleges and universities are institutions, as well as prisons.
Dealing with institutions, in turn, institutionalizes us. We know to check the mail, keep the dog on a leash, and wave to your neighbor in the morning. These are learned behaviors influenced by institutions. If we all thought the same way, we would have no need for all the diverse social structures that make up who we are. Where we work determines who we associate with, what side of town we live on, what grocery store we shop at which carries different foods from the corner store across town. Our children play with other children who we judge and evaluate according to our norms and values. We may not want our children spending the night at cousin George’s house because he is a vegetarian and he might influence little Johnny to change his social attitude towards consuming animals for sustenance.
Our religious affiliations are the oldest form of social control and play a huge part in our convictions and affirmations for living our daily lives. (Religious affiliation refers to any and all forms of faith). There are people who will never leave their hometown but feel as if they have enough knowledge that they don’t need to expand or become aware of how there behavior is the influence of future generations and how their social obligations will be carried out. The culture that they have been exposed to has left them satisfied with thoughts of not needing to explore new cultures and belief systems; and there are many of us who challenge the known and feel the need to expand our awareness because we know the world is so much bigger than the town we live in.
We stand in line to wait for things we want, we don’t talk with our mouths full, and we don’t swear in front of our parents. If this sounds far-fetched and you’re thinking to yourself, “Who does that?” This is where society influences our behavior. It is rare to witness these things I just mentioned and therefore hard to imagine, unless you can accept that in some form or fashion we are influenced. As long as social institutions exist, humans evolve , and there is a quest for a belief in a higher power, we will be influenced by what we see and hear. The media is an ever-growing industry that will always provide outlets for exploration and contradiction by influencing our thoughts, which turn into actions, which lead to behaviors. Even the person who does not watch television or read the newspaper was influenced by society to reach this decision, and had to be exposed to society to hold onto the behavior of avoiding distractions.