Human beings are being actively involved in the process of social influence as their activities and behaviors are defined by the social interactions. The psychological study of group processes and decision-making emphasizes how individuals live and develop by being constantly surrounded by different social groups that gradually transform since childhood. Hence, people are inclined to nurture various behaviors and act in a manner to either make a positive change or cause harm. This essay examines the leading cause of human behavior that promotes negative consequences for society through the prism of psychological and social studies.
Psychology of Groups
It is indeed a wide known fact that individual behavior is defined mainly by the presence of other people and the general concept of groups. According to social psychological research, the group context has been represented as dangerous, so it is crucial to understand and learn to manage the social groups (Capdevila, 2014). More specifically, groups might produce the following negative behaviors among their members, such as deindividuation, social loafing, group polarization, and groupthink. Studied by Ringelmann, social loafing is considered the most detrimental social phenomenon as it impedes the overall social performance shaped by individuals in the groups. People tend to put less effort into collaborative work with other people than when they are on their own. The psychologist defines this concept as a social disease because it has negative consequences for individuals, social institutions, and societies.
Psychology of Prejudice and Intergroup Behavior
As a natural occurrence, people might not always like the other individuals that they interact throughout their lifespan. The negative thoughts and feelings about other social group members can have particularly adverse consequences in the world because of the psychological concerns caused by the intergroup prejudice. The latter is a vitally important concept in the field of psychology as it is the primary reason for still prevailing inequality, discrimination, prejudice, biases, mistreatment, and violence (Dixon, 2015). Prejudice is the real psychopathological issue even in the modern-day society that has been historically embedded into each generation. Whether explicit or implicit prejudice, it promoted intergroup conflicts because of negative attitudes.
Moreover, the real-world consequences of intergroup prejudice can be seen in the devastating manifestations of inhumanity towards each other, such as slavery, segregation, and genocide. This is, by far, the most extreme and cruel expression of negative human actions within the groups. One of the most recent examples of such intergroup prejudice can be analyzed within the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. From the theoretical perspective, aversive racism theory can demonstrate how some individuals might support the discrimination’s victims; however, their unconscious behaviors reveal their actual negative attitudes, such as avoiding interaction with Black Americans. Both conflicting attitudes are showcased differently in different contexts. Therefore, enhancing the rejection and antipathy towards other individuals because they belong to different groups is considerably damaging for society.
There are particular behavioral effects of the dual-tasking process that the majority of people pursue today. Briggs and Hole (2015) analyze how dual-tasking can have negative consequences while driving. When the cognitive workload is low, dual tasking while driving has no adverse impact on the driver’s and other people’s lives. However, Brown et al. argue that dual-tasking activities can significantly impede perceptual decision-making abilities, including the ones measured in the gap judgment task (Briggs & Hole, 2015). The additional activities while driving might also decrease the situational awareness on the road since the driver’s attention is directed towards the in-vehicle device. Thus, when critical driving situations require immediate response and the appropriate reaction of the driver, the latter will not be able to address the accident adequately and save people’s lives. The worst-case scenario is when the driver fails to notice the approaching of a serious incident, the hazards (Briggs & Davies, 2015). This way, dual-tasking can have adverse effects on driving performance because of situational unawareness of the hazards on the road. As a result, poor driving performance might lead to dangerous road accidents that massively harm society.
When studying the negative behavior of humans, it is also imperative to understand some of the unusual causes of such destructive actions. Based on music psychology, music has the power to drive people and stimulate a different set of emotions and feelings that are best explained by the concept of emotional contagion (Rentfrow, 2015). More specifically, as people experience the spread of emotions from person to person, they might face negative feelings tied to the associated stimuli with the particular music. From the principles of social identity theory, musical preferences of oneself are also closely intertwined with self-esteem. Therefore, individuals tend to adopt values, attitudes, opinions, and lifestyles aligned with the music-based social groups that they prefer. Anderson et al. have examined that specific kinds of music, thus, can have a “deleterious impact on human behavior,” promoting violent acts and negative consequences (Rentfrow, 2015, p. 30). Those individuals exposed to more violent lyrics are more likely to develop aggressive thoughts; however, it does not always imply aggressive behavior. Nevertheless, it is a good reason to be concerned about the further consequences of such musical interests and their linkage to emotions.
Despite a variety of psychological influences on human behavior and the likelihood of negative actions, social interrelationships are the most fundamental. Social bonds start with the family first and, therefore, define such possibility of a child developing bad behaviors. For instance, negative parenting experience (“extreme sensitivity”) and associated environmental changes at home might undermine the attachment security of a child (Holliman & Critten, 2015, p. 55). The attachment measures later shape the relationship behavior since the childhood years. Moreover, as children develop into adolescents, they encounter a deepened set of emotions within social interaction. As such, even minor adverse action, such as bullying, can cause irreparable harm to the child’s social and academic development. Bullying is one of the most challenging and severe actions within the educational or work environments that have a long-lasting effect and leaves a mark on each individual that was a victim of such negative behavior.
Human behavior is a complex issue to study because of the broad scope of leading causes and consequences that it can bring to society. Based on psychological research, the development of bad behavior and moral judgment has its roots in childhood and impact from the family environment. The social and cognitive branches of psychology can decipher the reasons for the negative consequences of the actions that humans take from multiple perspectives. Nevertheless, it revolves around establishing a unique moral sense of oneself that predicts wrong or right decisions and behaviors later in life.
Briggs, G., & Davies, S. J. (2015). Is seeing believing? Visual perception and attention for dynamic scenes. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology: From cognitive to biological (pp. 107–155). Open University Press.
Briggs, G., & Hole, G. (2015). Can I do two things at once? Attention and dual tasking ability. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 2 (pp. 59–101). The Open University.
Capdevila, R. (2014). Are you with us or against us? Group processes and decision making. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 1 (pp. 85–123.). Open University Press.
Dixon, J., (2015). Why don’t we like one another? The psychology of prejudice and intergroup relations. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive (pp.133-181). Open University.
Holliman, A., & Critten, S. (2015). What is the point of childhood? Early experiences and social relationships. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From biological to developmental (pp. 43–85). Open University Press.
Rentfrow, P. J. (2015). Do you hear what I hear? Music cognition, preference and identity. In R. Capdevila, J. Dixon, and G. Briggs (Eds.), Investigating psychology 2: From biological to developmental (pp. 1–38). Open University Press.