How to Use Social Influence to Make Lives Better

November 14, 2022

By Natalie Moore, Guest Writer

November 14, 2022

“We’re too full to get dessert, thank you,” these words are feared by introverted dessert lovers everywhere.

Imagine you’re at a restaurant with your 5 best friends, you’re not celebrating, it’s just a Tuesday. Do you order dessert? Even if no one else wants any?

Your answer may be a resounding “yes, if I want a pizzookie, I’m getting a pizzookie.” Or maybe you were wanting the chocolate fudge cake and then let the echoes of “I’m so full” and “I’m stuffed” coming from your “friends” convince you you’re full too. Or, if you are socially anxious you may decide to keep your sugar craving to yourself and wait to eat some Oreos once you’re home. 

What you may not realize while sitting in the corner booth is that your decision is being socially influenced by those around you.

So next time you are full and don’t want dessert, check with the rest of the table before sending the waiter away.

I’m a competitive person. I have the innate ability to make everything a competition, I back up and try again, and again if necessary to get my car (Ruby) perfectly parked. 

Competition can motivate us. This is another way that we can be socially influenced. Have you ever been at the gym doing cardio, sprinting on the treadmill, when someone from the track team has the audacity to start their run on the treadmill to your left? Then you find yourself matching their pace (or as close to it as your English major legs let you) and you run the fastest mile of your life? 

Well neither have I, but it could happen. And if it did happen it would’ve been because you were socially influenced. 

Having someone to compare ourselves to can motivate us to perform better. Next time you try to race a track star, maybe ask yourself why you’re running so fast, and then get slower friends so when you go hiking or camping you don’t have to worry about being the slowest in the flight from the hungry bear. 

Ok, but actually, use comparison as a motivator, but don’t compare yourself to the track athletes when you’re running, this will only make you feel bad. Upwardly compare yourself in areas you seek improvement to motivate you.

Social influence can even take a more personal role in your life.

 Have you ever noticed the more time you spend with a friend the more you like them? I’m sure they’re a great person, but there may be another reason you’ve become attached to them.

We like what is familiar. Not because it’s any better or different than other options, but because we know more about it. 

As humans we crave comfort, and we find it in several places.

Our routines are familiar, do we have them because they make our lives easier or because it’s what we’ve always done — they’re familiar. 

Not to make anyone mad, but your family isn’t better than anyone else’s family. We love them because they are our family and at least partially because, you guessed it — they are familiar. 

If you’re like me and have a long drive home, you may have a favorite route you always drive. Do you like that route because it’s the best option (we all know Arkansas roads so it could be the ONLY route) or is it just the road you have always taken so it’s familiar?

The familiar feels comfortable. Why do we want to feel comfortable? Because if we are comfortable, we are safe. This is a beneficial response.

Until its not. 

This familiarity can also create a false sense of safety. 

The abused sometimes stay in abusive relationships because they’re familiar. We don’t apply to a job because it’s out of our comfort zone and unfamiliar. We don’t go to that movie because we haven’t seen the trailer. These three scenarios are very different, and hopefully demonstrate to you the need to analyze your motivations, fears, and even comfort with the following questions:

“Am I only doing this because it is familiar?” and the opposite “Am I only not doing this because it is unfamiliar?”

Social influence can also affect us so impersonally we don’t notice it.

As a freshman, living in Francie or Flippin Perrin, the hallways are always loud. You don’t realize just how loud until a few years later when you’re sitting in your Gosser room listening t crickets chirp.

The main difference in these places is context.

The newer dorm that smells like dryer sheets creates an atmosphere of calm. Whereas Flippin Perrin has an atmosphere that could choke you with the smell of unwashed socks. 

These places have different unspoken rules and social norms associated with them because of their context. Context is a social influence that affects us every second of every day of our lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Stepping Up for Ouachita Raises Scholarship Funds

Next Story

Kicks for Kids Raises Money for School in Zambia

Latest from Opinions

Matty’s: a new go-to in town

By Kate Ellis, News Editor On Friday, April 5, I had the pleasure of getting lunch at Matty’s Restaurant, a new dining option for…

Was it too much Taylor Swift?

By Jordan Dallimore, Staff Writer The Super Bowl is not just a regular football game; it’s a cultural event, watched by over a hundred…

About Me

Go toTop