Social Psychology: The Importance of Socialization & The First Step to Reducing Conflict and Learning to Adapt to the Changing Social Environment of Today

Last Updated: January 1, 2024

Author: Sadasha Dixit

Social Psychology: The Importance of Socialization & The First Step to Reducing Conflict and Learning to Adapt to the Changing Social Environment of Today

There is a colorful range of lifestyles and practices that paint the overall picture of our diverse communities. With trends influencing our way of life day after another to communities refusing to modernize their ancestral practices, adapting to a society with conflicting views and beliefs is rather difficult. This difficulty ignites conflict and dispute which has the potential of staying prevalent for years, dismantling any probable union between the diverse groups. Thus, to avoid such quarrels, as social beings, it is crucial for us to actively participate in learning to adapt to society. 

Being social is so engraved in human nature that one of the cruelest forms of punishment sentenced is life in solitary confinement. Loneliness is shown to be physically and mentally detrimental to our wellbeing, and we are constantly finding ways to connect with each other, through social media, in public spaces, workplaces, etc. Programs such as emotional warmlines and support groups are established to help people avoid loneliness and find people, even strangers, to confide in. Through our constant efforts to connect with each other, it is evident how important social interaction is to us. Especially after being isolated from society for longer than a year, people are starting to understand the importance of social interactions and connections. 

In order to be active socializers, it can be helpful to understand the basic mechanics of social psychology we tend to operate with. These skills will be extremely useful to us once we are permitted to walk back into the social lives we so abruptly had to leave. 

Social psychology is the scientific study of how people influence each other’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Social psychologists believe that human behavior is influenced by both a person’s characteristics and the social situation. Moreover, social situations are often believed to be a stronger influence on human behavior than personal characteristics. In other words, social situations and context often determine how we behave. For instance, if the environment we are in is negative, it is highly likely to elicit negative behavior from us, adding to the pessimism of the environment. To combat this feedback loop, we must understand one of social psychology’s most common concepts—the fundamental attribution error. 

Fundamental attribution error is the tendency to attribute others’ behavior primarily to internal factors such as personality traits while attributing one’s own behavior more to external or situational factors. For instance, when somebody bumps into you in public, you may attribute it to their carelessness. However, when you bump into somebody else, you may attribute the mistake to being jolted by somebody else. This is but a mere example of a tendency that fuels stereotypes, discrimination, and racism—the root of most discrepancies in society that does not allow communities to merge together as one. It is only after we quit attacking people’s character in situations that we begin to minimize quarrels. Remind yourself of the time you were misunderstood by others, simply because of the misportrayed incident, you were involved in. Didn’t you demand to be heard? Similarly, in every situation, before coming to a conclusion about the involved individuals’ personality, we must learn to take a step back, understand the situation, and avoid fundamental attribution error.  

Due to the COVID-19 virus, there has been a tremendous change in people’s behavior and lifestyle, which is likely to be carried into their lives post-pandemic. Especially today, we must be patient and understanding of the shift in people’s behaviors that was triggered by such unprecedented times. It is necessary to be wary of the effects of the pandemic on people’s behavior before we reach a conclusion about their changed personalities that attacks their character. We may project the effects of the pandemic on our own behavior and should realize that it is only natural to be rusty in socialization skills after the pandemic, which applies to the entire population of the world. Here, by recognizing the effects of the situation on human behavior, we will minimize fundamental attribution error. 

In summary, social psychology believes that situations have a stronger influence on human behavior than we do on each other. The first step we must take in order to be respectful members of society is to minimize judgment of other people’s character in distressing situations and learn to understand the situation themselves. This not only decreases conflict between people and groups but also reduces stereotypes and discrimination, which are also based on the faulty generalization of groups. It is after we become understanding members of the society that we decrease disputes with other communities and also become more susceptible to positive change and growth.  

-Author is a student of Psychology & English writing at University of San Francisco, California, USA

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