Social influence from mass media and online social platforms plays a fundamental role in decision making among people of all ages in short essay examples. The increased accessibility and availability of the Internet sources have further enhanced the social influence and social networking capabilities of manipulating attitudes, beliefs, and social norms. People are able to express their feelings better than they used to do in the past and manipulate the perceptions that people have about them. Humans are social beings, and they interact with others at every opportunity that is presented to them. With the discovery of social media networks, making friends has become easy. Meeting clients and target customers has been made possible, which in the larger sense has enabled the creation of networks. Human behavior is largely based on the social environment; people end up behaving in the way they see others behaving. As such, the increased access to the internet has enabled social networks and social influence. This paper provides an in-depth discussion of a social psychology experiment on adolescents, which uses the results to explain the role of social networks and behaviors in increasing the use of addictive drugs.
General Description of the Experiment
The purpose of this experiment was to assess the role of social influence, social networking, and advertising on adolescent attitudes, perceptions, and self-assessment among peers on the issue of alcohol abuse among adolescents. The correlational research design enabled the studying of the relationship between independent and dependent variables. The experiment used the social networks and media advertising as independent variables and adolescent's attitudes, perceptions, and practices of alcohol abuse among minors as dependent variables. The rationale for choosing this research design was influenced by its capability for testing suspected relationships between variables and the construction of forecasts. Moreover, the design can evaluate these associations in everyday life events. This social psychology experiment will involve adolescents between the ages of twelve and sixteen.
The hypothesis: The experiment showed that more than half of the adolescents in the world today were influenced to partake in socially unacceptable practices, such as addictive drug use, by the social networks of which they are members.
Step-by-Step Description of the Experiment
This experiment tried to explain the attribution theory; that is, the attribution of social influence by social networks on advertising, shaping attitudes, and perceptions among others in adolescents regarding teenage alcohol drinking. Data on alcohol use and experience and the role of social influence and advertising was collected using information collecting tools, such as questionnaires administered to the adolescents, key informants such as school principals, and use of observation checklists as well as focus group discussion guides. Before the experiment, the anticipation was that there would be surfacing evidence on the strong correlation between the independent variables and the dependent variables. This study targeted adolescents.
The study interviewed one hundred and twenty adolescents in a high school to be able to achieve its target. Among them, seventy two were girls, while forty eight were boys. The students were randomly picked in their school to avoid any biases and unreliability of the test. The social status of the students was not a focus point and admission into the experiment was only based on age (they had to be in their teenage years). They were exposed to interview questions and their responses were recorded.
A majority of these teenagers were attending high schools. At this age, new behaviors and personality characteristics are adopted, therefore, making this an important group worthy of individualized attention. Stratified proportionate sampling was used to determine the number of adolescents required for the study by age. Simple random sampling was then used to select the participants. The inclusion criteria involved all adolescents of both sex willing to participate and the consent for whom was given by the relevant authority for those below sixteen years old. The exclusion to study was done to all the adolescents whose consent to participate has been denied by the relevant authority. They were not included in the study if they were not willing to participate.
Data collection was aided by the use of well-structured questionnaires that were administered to all participating adolescents while interviewing the study sample also took place by use of interview guides. Focus group discussions were carried out in three sessions, each session comprising of eight adolescent participants, which were guided by a focus group discussion guide. These tools were used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Observation data collecting techniques were also used. The interviews, as well as the focused group discussions, aided the collection of qualitative data, In this case, data that helped to assess attitudes, knowledge, and practices of social networks and advertising.
As a way of ensuring data validity, confidential questionnaires were used for the study. It ensured that the subjects were not intimidated when giving information. Also, ample time to do the research was taken into consideration, as well as a representative sample of the whole population. Reliability was ensured through randomization of the sample respondents, as well as piloting of the data collection tools such as the interviewers using a representative number of the targeted respondents.
Data collected was coded and entered in and analyzed statistically using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer application version 20.0. Data cleaning was done to check for discrepancies or errors in the data entry process. The data was then analyzed using chi-square methods which were calculated to show a correlation between the dependent variables and the independent variables. To fulfill logical and ethical considerations and requirements, permission was sought from parents and respective school administration for the adolescents before undertaking the study. Informed consent was also sought from the respondents and assurance of confidentiality maintained on all data collected.
Patterns in Behaviors
The adolescents demonstrated various patterns in their socialization. First, during recess, it was observed that most teenagers tended to gather and communicate in groups, especially during lunch break. These groups seemed to have common features as each group behaved in a different way. For examples, the girls were observed to dress in a certain way, while some boys had dyed their hair with certain color to distinguish themselves among other groups. It was also observed that majority had smartphones meaning that there is access to online social platforms, which also creates a vast social network influence.
During data analysis patterns, it was evident that social influence from social networks and advertisements related to alcohol use significantly contributed to conformist attitudes and perceptions on teenage drug addictions. The problem of alcohol addiction among adolescents has resulted from social lives. The majority of teenagers end up copying what their peers do and what they see celebrities do. They imitate the characters they see presented on mass media, which in most cases go against their cultural beliefs. Since the family is less involved in the socialization of the young and adolescents, Parents end up communicating less information to their young children about the culture and customs that they should observe. The traditional values that were observed by the families get lost between the generations, leading to immoral behaviors since children are more dependent on their peers than they are on their parents for attaining information.
During the adolescent stage, most time of the day is spent in school or outside home, away from the sight of parents and family, as while adolescents begin to reject parental control, they get a desperate need for social belonging which they find in peer groups. Social pressure from media and friends is a major contributor of alcohol and other addictive drugs use among teenagers. Therefore, most factors that affect and influence changes in their behavior, attitudes, and beliefs are in the ‘outside' society, which is often labeled with ‘liberty and lots of freedom' of doing whatever one wants without being judged or corrected. However, the social strata, especially the peer setting demands fitting in and peer approval. Fitting in includes doing what is done commonly. For instance, if you peers abuse alcohol, one has to take alcohol too to gain that sense of belonging. Also, many adolescents are incredibly competitive and will try to outperform each other at every possible opportunity in drinking. The circle of friends from school and the neighborhood holds a great authority among adolescents. If the use of alcohol is approved by the group, adolescents get a strong desire to conform.
The hypothesis of the study was that more than a half of the students would be influenced into socially wrong acts by the social networks they engage in. Through the research conducted that was confirmed. According to the research, it was clear that the pressure from social circles and environments that adolescents live in significantly contribute to the alcohol drinking problem. For instance, a number of time adolescents spend watching television has a negative influence on their behavior. The use of alcohol and tobacco among teenagers has also been increased by pressure in form of information that they are provided with and is false, as it shows them that drugs are the answers to life’s problems. As such, the social environments and networks that they are engaged in shape their behaviors and lead them into social wrongs such as use of addictive drugs.
Before the study, it was anticipated that use of alcohol among adolescents was a result of peer influence and that is what the results proved to be. However, it also revealed some unexpected information such as teenagers viewing some behaviors such as alcohol use as a rite of passage. Alcohol use, especially among adolescents, is connected to many beliefs and stereotypes which influence the increased use of alcohol. Alcohol use is associated with being cool, being interesting, popularity, and being seen by fellow peers as someone who enjoys life. It is also believed that use of alcohol reduces stress, especially academic stress, and is one of the ways to maintain romantic relationships and friendships. It is also believed to be a rite of passage from childhood. By reducing stress, it helps adolescents avoid life demands and problems as a defense mechanism. For instance, those with aggressive behavior abuse alcohol to justify it.
The use of alcohol is increasingly being viewed as a trendy and fashionable act and a teenager that is not engaging in those behaviors is secluded by the others. Renowned personalities such as actors and musicians who performed activities that teenagers spend time watching are being used to promote use of drugs. After watching the celebrities actions promoting and using the substances, the teenagers embrace the same attitudes, so that they can be recognized locally by their peers. Adolescents are also vulnerable to the associations between alcohol consumption and high-risk sexual behavior, even when they have knowledge of safe health practices.
Socially, alcohol use is accepted in many countries and is viewed as a normal behavior, such that as much as there are many policies and guidelines aiming to regulate its use among adolescents, teenagers continue to abuse alcohol without any social prejudice. It is also accepted by people in many cultures, some of which openly promote its use during particular important cultural and ceremonial occasions like marriage, initiation, circumcision. It makes the adolescents believe that alcohol is good and acceptable. Due to social, economic, and other changes, censure and control at the family level has been reduced, and there are fewer stigmas associated with the use of intoxicants especially alcohol. The education system is one of the most pervasive agents of socialization about alcohol use and abuse.
The experiment addressed the hypothesis by showing that correlation between social networks and media advertisements with attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs formed. This study shows that attitude formation, attitude adjustment, the function of attitudes, and the relationship between attitudes and behavior are socially acquired. Modern day teenagers are greatly influenced by the social media. The adolescents are being influenced by the environment, which includes social media, to create perceptions and develop patterns of behavior. They think that their attitudes are socially correct, yet they are unknowingly defying the cultural norms and forming their way of life.
Persuasion, which is a dynamic technique of influence eliciting from social networks and media in the form of advertisements, attempts to steer people in the direction of embracing the attitudes, ideas, or behaviors by coherence. Persuasion relies on requests rather than strong pressure. Social advertising utilizes information concerning clients' peers, including peer affiliations with a brand or organization among others, to contextualize their exhibit. Correlated along the social networks and the addition of social cues, such as peers' involvement with a brand, along with advertisements shape reactions by way of influence social practices. For this rationale, responses increase when numerous social indicators are presented with advertisements. Therefore, when affiliated with peers the influence becomes stronger.
The experiment shows that groups are important in offering social support, assets, and a sense of belonging. Since they enhance a person's self-image, people identify themselves by the group they fit in, which forms the social distinctiveness. Social identity shared by persons in a group manipulates intergroup conduct, as well as the way they behave towards and perceive each one. The inclination to define oneself by association to a group leads to intergroup favoritism, which involves constructive perceptions and behaviors aimed towards the in-group, but unconstructive perceptions aimed towards the out-group. Such favoritism and isolation exist partially to aid diversity which reinforces society. Grouping regularly moderates and advances decision-making, and is recurrently relied upon for these benefits. Some group favoritism, however, can hinder effective decision making.
The challenges faced during the study are that the study population is usually very sensitive. Therefore, there was the risk of modifying behavior and altering normal social structures so that there is a risk of collecting inaccurate information. Second, there was the challenge of correlating various behaviors to social influence and advertising. It is not directly clear that social influence and advertising affects behavior, since there are other factors that play a part and affect behavior such as individual perceptions, cultures, and personalities.
The social psychology experiment intended to test the social influence on teenagers by analyzing their social networks and behaviors to determine whether there is a relationship. The experiment revealed that adolescents depended more on their peers and what they saw on the media than what they were told by their parents and what their cultures demanded of them. They engaged in addictive drug use, such as alcohol consumption, so that they can be recognized by their peers and be perceived to have graduated from childhood to adulthood. Additionally, when they were involved in the socially wrong acts, they were celebrated by their peers and viewed as heroes. Other than the peers, adolescents were influenced by the environment they lived in. Watching television influenced their behaviors. By seeing musicians and actors dressed in certain ways and using addictive drugs, they engaged in the same behaviors. As such, the results of the study support the hypothesis that adolescents’ behavior is influenced by the social networks in which they participate.