Describe how groups can influence people in positive and negative ways.

To help understand how groups can influence the behaviour of people in both positive and negative ways, evidence is used from the research of social psychologists with the use of case studies, experiments and social study to back up the argument. These tests by social psychologists are devised to help improve understanding of social behaviours and there influences in all parts of the world.     Some of the positive influences that a group may have on an individual consist of loyalty, co-operation, respect, similarity. Some negative influences include prejudice, isolation, stereotyping and group pressure.

To consider some of the positive effects, belonging to a group can give an individual are, a sense of identity; raise self esteem, instil pride and respect, and also a sense of belonging. This helps to define that person but also allows for others to help define who we are. Evidence of this can be found in an experiment by Muzafer Sherif et al (1961). A boy’s camp was set up with two groups being formed. At the start, the two groups were cohesive with each other, showing norms of behaviour such as telling jokes and forming secret codes which highlights the positive effects created by in group mentality. The experimenters then decided to set up a competition within the two groups in the form of a tournament. Negatively, from this came bad sportsmanship, group hostility with name-calling, aggression and prejudice towards the opposite members of the group, also known as the out group. Once competition had been introduced, group loyalty, solidarity and co-operation were high in-group and anger, aggression hostility and abuse was also seen toward the out group.

To look at a different influence, a person can sometimes feel the need to want to fit in with a certain group so that they can have a sense of security, a need to be cared for or to achieve a social identity, they will sometimes...