Being influenced.

I’m going to focus on mostly subconscious influence. I don’t completely understand it, but I have a few basic thoughts.

What we see and hear is imprinted in our minds; though we ‘re not conscious of the significance that will later invoke our own thoughts and behaviour. Thus, anything perceived as interesting or intelligent can easily be reflected or imitated in any actions of our own. We subconsciously convey our admiration of others through conformity or influence. This also enables us to develop better relationships and social acceptance. Our need for affiliation is a clear motive to manipulate and be influenced by people; in order to maintain friendships we must impress our peers and identify  mutual interests. Mostly a friendship is formed because people already have the same views and enjoy the same activities; whereby there is no influence occurring. However people have such a powerful desire to be understood that we want others to share our interests (Example: recommending a band and hoping they’ll enjoy the music) and we are often inclined to be conscious of the views and interests of others, thus enabling us to be  subconsciously influenced by merely being receptive to ideas.

When a person spends a notable amount of time with another, they’re likely to be susceptible to being influenced. If by choice we are with a person often, obviously you have a positive opinion on them, therefore we appreciate their views and respect them enough to consciously choose to join them in activities that they enjoy to ensure their happiness and maintain the friendship. However this often leads to being subconsciously influenced, an average relationship can cause one to use the same vocabulary, enjoy the same music, activities and even change views. This is merely one example of why and how a person is influenced. People are also influenced by people they dislike, strangers, celebrities, and the media. I think people conform to the ways of others mostly to fit in, this clearly applies to being influenced by the media; in particular magazines and advertisements. Because of our need for affiliation we don’t want to be social-outcasts, therefore we allow ourselves to be influenced. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we are entirely aware that we’re being influenced. Our subconscious is a powerful entity, which I don’t think we could ever fully understand.

The concept of influence is important and always comes back to me because everyone is subconsciously and consciously being influenced everyday and I want to gain a greater insight about subconscious influence. Conscious influence is when a person reflects an obvious new interest or opinion as a friend, which the link is instantly recognisable by yourself and a third party. Whereas subconscious influence occurs without your immediate knowledge and often without clarity. It can very subtle, like using the same word as someone else in the same day, a word that you wouldn’t usually use. Subconscious influence can be discovered depending on the thought processes that a particular person possesses. I don’t know if everyone recognises that they have been subconsciously influenced or only some people have that ability. It’s possible that a person’s intelligence determines whether they accept the concept of being influenced and recognise subconscious influence.

In different circumstances the concept of influence can be either positive or negative. One might be in denial about being influenced as it’s often seen as a weakness to succumb to the ways of others. Is it even possible to never be influenced by other people? and does this mean that we genuinely don’t see the conformity for ourselves? I don’t yet know the answer to the latter, as for the former question I think the answer is clear. We are always influenced by others, even if we don’t want to be. It can’t be prevented, at least not entirely. I think people sometimes get influenced because they lack character, this doesn’t mean that they are boring people, they simply don’t have the confidence or lifestyle that would ensure they don’t feel the need to conform. This is certainly not the main reason behind influence, I think intelligence plays a big part in it; for example I’m writing this before I’ve read about influence and conformity in my psychology book so that my answer isn’t influenced. This invokes the question; why do I want to prevent it? I think maybe it’s because I feel the need to know that I can write well and I can convey a good insight about each topic that I write about within psychology because it’s my passion and I want to be good at it. So, if I read the chapter before writing this essay, my writing would be influenced because the chapter in the book is more accurate and informative than my basic observations and mediocre thoughts and theories.

Another way we are influenced is by our parents. I believe that how we’re brought up effects who we are and how we behave  in adulthood. I’d eventually like to learn a lot more about the psychological effects that our parents have on us… As we don’t choose our family, this conveys that we’re not just influenced by people we enjoy spending time with but people that we spend a lot of time with. Why do we get influenced by the people that we spend a lot of time with? Although whether this is merely because we spend a lot of time with our families or whether it’s more complex, I’m not yet certain of.

Although I’ve written a lot about ‘subconscious influence’, I wonder if we’re always aware that we’re being influenced.  There are benefits of being influenced; overall it builds character if you are influenced subtly by a variety of people and not just one person. However I think too much influence disrupts our own individuality, but the correct amount can be advantageous for personality and social development.

Lastly here are a few questions that I hope to find the answers to:

Why we don’t always recognise how we’ve been influenced?

What is the main reason for being influenced?

What is the thought process of conforming?

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