Power of the group: delegate responsibilities

Power of the group: delegate responsibilities

Power of the group: delegate responsibilities

Last update: July 29, 2020

Each of us belongs to a group with which we share personal, professional or other interests; it is an essential process for feeling fulfilled as individuals. The power of the group makes us feel safe, strong, good about ourselves, but it also conditions us. How many times have we found ourselves in doubt, but in the end we have succumbed to inertia and the reassuring idea that others have acted in the same way?

The group directs our thoughts and behavior. Within secondary socialization, it is one of the most important elements in learning social norms. The group helps us to overcome adversity, but it is also a shield that protects us from the evil that we ourselves sometimes do. The problem arises here, when we justify our actions with “others did it too”.

The power of the group gives us security, but it conditions us

The group and the identity

Since our birth we have been part of a community: society. We are members of a community that encompasses many people. However, when we grow up we do not identify our group with society as a whole and we perceive ourselves as individuals. For this reason, we dedicate part of our efforts and our time to looking for a reference, someone to feel comfortable with.

The group is an important element in the development of personality and morals, it forges our identity and in adolescence it acquires greater importance. Parents stop being a guide and are relegated to a secondary role. In this phase we look for other sources of knowledge and it is in the group that we finish the consolidation of our personality.

The power of the group and deindividuation

Therefore individual identity is transformed into group identity. We do not perceive ourselves as unique individuals with their own conscience, but as an integral part of different groups. In a sense, we lose part of our consciousness and get carried away, in some circumstances, by what others are doing. This is one of the effects of the group's power.

It is, in itself, a drawback as we delegate the criterion and responsibility for our acts to others. The problem becomes enormous when such acts are antisocial and do not respect the rules.

Deindividuation arises as a loss of that self-awareness that leads the individual to escape from his own identity as a subject. Responsibility, therefore, is not linked to the acts we perform as individuals, but as members of the group to which we belong.

In other words, responsibility is shared between all members. "I did wrong, but so did the others." In this way, the action loses strength and is seen as less offensive, as the consequences were not only generated by us, but more people participated in it.

This phenomenon increases when, in addition to being in a group, we have our faces covered. Physical anonymity makes our recognition difficult, leads us to a state of invisibility in front of the world. The responsibility, therefore, is further diluted and it is more difficult to feel guilty about what we have done. After all, no one knows who we are.

The power of the situation

The power of the situation explains how we change our behavior when we overshadow individual thinking. The context in which we find ourselves guides our reactions.

An example that represents this concept well is the group experiment conducted by Asch. The test was to provide the most correct answer to a problem. Within the group, some participants agreed and had to give a blatantly wrong answer. Among the unsuspecting participants, a high percentage gave the wrong answer while admitting that alone they would have made a different choice.

This shows how important it is what others think of us and how we adapt our behavior in order to be accepted by the group. We act by adapting to what others expect of us. Many participants of the experiment were aware that they were giving the wrong answer, but they preferred to make mistakes in order to be "accepted".

The group is part of us, it changes us and we ourselves influence others. It improves our ability to relate, allows us to exchange information and share interests. However, group pressure dilutes, in some situations, the perception of our negative actions. The philosophy that emerges is simple "if one falls, we all fall".

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