Theories about how Society Influences Behavior

Social Influence in Our Daily Lives

In most all cultures society as a whole has set norms or principles of behavior that are usually expected of most people. These norms or set principles of behavior have been handed down from generation to generation through one of our key components in our lives, our family. Our environment whether it be the home, work place, geographical location or religious belief is especially important to how we adjust to society and the rules that apply there. We sometimes conform, accept or alter our place in society in order to fit in, to gain certain desires, to be a part of certain groups and so forth. Those adjustments however are not always to our best advantage. Such as with prejudice. It comes in all forms, shapes and sizes. We feel this sometimes due to our mis-conceptions of others. When we are afraid or not sure about a certain situation.

Just as with the thought that only bad people do bad things. Good people also do bad things, example: Bill Clinton and his affair that almost ruined his family. No matter the reasons it is up to us as human beings to have a better understanding of how and why we do what we do. It’s up to us to learn about the differences in other cultures world wide and how to make our society a better place for everyone. If we can blend our thoughts and feelings to accept that we all have free will, we could have a better understanding of how each culture and society thrives or dies according to our actions. Our focus should be to express the positive as often as possible and to learn from the negative to prevent events in society turning on us.

It has also been suggested that events in our lives not directly affecting the structure of the person can influence later behavior and in extreme cases lead to symptoms of psychiatric illness of one sort or another. So, does this suggestion imply that maybe as a child, something that occurred not to the child but to someone near the child, affected the child to do something positive or negative at a later time in their lives?

Harvey Seifert and Howard Clinebell show us that in the various activities of our clergy or lay counselors a common development can be distinguished in the process of growth and development in our culture. Our clergy developed a program of four steps. Motivation and preparation to show there must be an awareness for change; Analysis of the problem and how to explore alternative goals; Planning a strategy and finally;  Action to accomplish that change and stabilize the change with continuous feedback.
But with our elements of social structure the structure can still become in-effective because some members of society will fail to follow the norms (rules of behavior).The specific agents of our socialization such as specific people, groups, and organizations are primarily responsible for transforming us as organic matter into human beings to survive in society. Those specific agents are the family, the school, our peer groups, the media and occupational groups. All these are the most regarded. Our culture, the cement that holds the social bond together, provides the design for living.

In every society it is the family that provides the individual with their unique identity, social status, and physical and moral support. But it is also the individual who must accept what the family gives and determine how it is used in society.

No matter the status of homes and family, no matter the geographical location or culture, our behavior and beliefs come through the individual and those choices made from lessons learned. We have free will to accept or deny social change.


Wade, Carol & Tavis, Carol; (2003, 2002) Behavior in Social & Cultural Context; Psychology I.

Perry, John A & Perry, Erma K; (1991) Contemporary Society, An Introduction to Social Science, 6th Edition.

McDonald, Chris; Department of Philosophy, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax N.S.

Kornblum, William; (2003) Sociology in a Changing World, 6th Edition, 172-181.

Seifert, Harvey & Clinebell, Howard J Jr. ;(1974) Personal Growth & Social Change, 116-211.

Popenoe, David; (1980,1977,1974,1971) Sociology 4th Edition, 21-84.

Jundt, Dustin K, & Henoz, Velin B; (2002) Social Behavior and Personality

Opler, Marvin K.;(1967) Culture and Social Psychiatry.