Behavior in Social Groups

Written by shae hazelton
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Behavior in Social Groups
Group behaviour can be a positive or negative influence on an individual. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

If you carefully observe social groups around you, you may notice that the behaviour of the group members varies from their behaviour when alone. Being a part of a social group can make people act in new and interesting ways. Your observations of group behaviour can give you insight into human behaviour during interaction and make a compelling study piece for a class assignment.

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Mob Mentality

Joining a social group can make you act in ways you never thought possible. When you are part of a group, you can sometimes feel caught up in the emotions of the group. You may hear this phenomenon referred to as "mob mentality." Mob mentality can make you a supporter of a cause you usually oppose. This effect is more apparent in social groups comprised primarily of younger individuals. For example, when one child joins a clique, he may start ridiculing his old friends because that is what his group members do.


Some social groups operate on a dominance hierarchy. You are more likely to see this sort of social structure in animals, but it sometimes happens in human groups. One person will establish himself as the "leader" of the group. The rest of the hierarchy falls into place below the leader. Generally, you will see preferred members of the group, depending on whom the leader prefers. You also have the bottom rang of the hierarchy, which comprises the members that receive very little acclaim or respect within the group, but remain a part of it.

Vying for Acceptance

People who join social groups may start making a conscious effort to abandon some of their less desirable traits in an attempt to belong. This is different from mob mentality in the fact that it is a conscious effort to change behaviour in order to find acceptance, rather than being overwhelmed by the emotions of the moment. For example, an omnivore (someone who indulges in both vegetables and meat) may pretend to be a vegetarian (someone who never eats meat) when surrounded by his vegetarian friends, in an attempt to belong.

Pros and Cons

Being a part of a social group has advantages and disadvantages, depending on the type of people in the group. Sometimes being part of a social group can encourage you to perform positive acts and improve your outlook. Other times, though, social groups can cause you to perform negative acts and exclude those outside of your social group. You have to choose your groups carefully to find the kind of people that will help you grow into an attractive and well-rounded person.

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