Black Sheep Effect: Why are those who love you are also the ones who criticize you the most?To understand why family and intimate groups create a black sheep, it is necessary to delve into the theory of social identity proposed by Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist of Polish origin. This theory gives us some important clues to understand the phenomenon of discrimination within the group. Indeed, we must understand that, however different they are, all groups and their members have some points in common:- Groups focus on the negative characteristics of other groups. When groups make judgments about other groups, they are usually negative because they try to influence the opinions of its members, so that they perceive "their group" as better. It is a cognitive bias that we have all fallen into. For this reason we tend to say for example that: our football team is the best, our family is the happiest or our religion the truest, even if we know that it is not.
- The group exerts great pressure on its members. The group demands a lot from each of the members, exerting a strong pressure that aims to maintain cohesion and inner harmony. Therefore, a parent can be very permissive with the neighbor's children, but be very strict with his own. The Black Sheep effect refers precisely to this pressure and criticism exerted on the members of the group. Indeed, the group tends to evaluate each of its members severely, maximizing its errors and applying exemplary punishments. One of the classic studies in the history of psychology, developed in 1988, clearly shows how this phenomenon occurs. These psychologists have analyzed the exemplarity of the group members, one of the factors that determines the behavior of the people in the group to differentiate themselves from the rest and which underlies theBlack Sheep effectDuring the experiment they compared two groups of students, one in philosophy and the other in law. The members of each group had to hear a series of recorded speeches, some were very interesting and some were very bad. During each rehearsal, the participant was told whether the speech belonged to a law or philosophy student. The psychologists also included a group of students who did not belong to any specific university course and who were not told which subject the person giving the speech was studying, so it could be found that when students had to judge the speech of a member of their group (a person studying their own subject) made more extreme judgments. In practice, if a law student listened to a bad speech by a student in his own class, he tended to qualify it as worse than that of a philosophy student and vice versa. The same effect can be seen in the fans of a football team. When the team plays badly they are the first to complain and qualify the performance as bad, issuing more extreme judgments. The same happens within a dysfunctional family or group of friends. In practice, the group should ensure not only that the members are more united, but that they also follow the rules that identify them and obviously make them "better. " respect to others. Therefore, any deviation from the norm is a warning sign that it deserves punishment.
The Black Sheep effect has three main functions:1. Preserve the positive identity of the group by ensuring that its members abide by the rules2. Show other members what happens when the rules are not followed 3. Distract the attention of group members from other more dangerous problems that can profoundly affect group identity
Behind every black sheep hides the fear of white sheepBehind the definition "black sheep" there is actually a great fear.
- Fear of losing control over one of the members. The family or group is afraid of losing control over one of its members, whose role is essential to maintaining the often precarious balance.
- Fear of positive identity being harmed. The group is not simply the sum of each of its members, but has its own identity, in which all the members are reflected. Each person consciously or unconsciously wants the group to have a positive identity, because this fuels their self-esteem. Thus, when one of the members does not abide by the rules, he is perceived as a threat because he jeopardizes the positive identity of the group.
- Fear of other problems coming up. In many cases, labeling one of the group members as a black sheep involves turning him into the scapegoat. In fact, the black sheep can be the force that holds the group together because it distracts attention from other problems and much deeper tensions that challenge the positive identity of the group.
- Fear caused by old traumas. In other cases, the fear arises from the fact that we are mirrored in the black sheep, that is to say that the other people in the group see in the black sheep desires, behaviors, attitudes and aspirations that they themselves had to repress in the past, in order to submit to control. of the group. Seeing these behaviors is like reliving a trauma from the past, which instinctively generates a defensive reaction. In any case, whatever the source of the problem, you need to be aware that black sheep are not born. It is the social environment that qualifies you as such when you do not meet certain standards or expectations. Therefore, reacting strongly and decisively to this label is an act of courage.
Belonging to a "pack" does not make you happy: Dare to find your wayWhen a person assumes that he is the black sheep of the family, he can passively surrender and accept the role. In fact, many accept this label and diligently perform the role assigned to them by the group, which usually means subjecting themselves to constant ridicule, contempt and criticism without question.But when you are cataloged as the black sheep, you also have another opportunity: to react. You don't need to accept a role where everyone washes their hands and the only one hurt is you. You don't have to embark on a personal crusade, just assert your right to be who you really want to be and live the life you want - in fact, there are times when being considered the black sheep of the family can be the best thing you can do. to happen. Ask yourself if belonging to this "herd" of white sheep makes you really happy. If not, perhaps it is time to take an emotional distance. To do this you will have to progressively get rid of the different layers that have been creating around you over the years. Basically, this liberation process occurs in three stages: 1. By becoming aware of your individuality. You don't have to be like your parents or siblings. You don't have to think like them, agree with their opinions, or want the same things. You don't have to act by their rules or do what others expect you to do. You have the right to be yourself and follow your dreams.
2. Feeling comfortable with yourself. Black sheep often believe that something is wrong with them, they do not deserve respect and love, simply because they are different. This message, by dint of repeating itself, may have taken root deeply within you, especially because the people who are important to you have sent it to you. Therefore, it is essential to feel good the way you are, with your values, outlooks on life and decisions. Be yourself and don't be ashamed of it, on the contrary, be proud of who you are.
3. Accepting others. When the black sheep finally gets rid of the negative influence of those around it and realizes there is nothing wrong with it, it often ends up feeling resentment towards those who have made it sick for so many years. But if you really want to get rid of this label and free yourself from group pressure, the last step is to forgive these people and accept them as they are.