Rebecca discusses how social influences can affect your behaviours.
At Rambutan, we’re fascinated by people’s behaviours. Our ‘Why people do what they do’ model focuses on personal and cultural factors that influence the way we behave; social influences are one such cultural factor. Most people unconsciously adapt their behaviour to fit their social norms. The sports team you support, the books you read, and the people you work with, all influence your behaviours.
I’m a Leeds United fan (for my sins!) and at a football match, we chant “We are Leeds”. This got me thinking about how social influences on the football terraces affect my behaviour. At the match, we don’t attribute ourselves to being fans, but instead, we’re part of the team (“We are Leeds” not “We support Leeds”). The power of language means we attach an identity by saying, “I am… or we are”. This identity drives me to stand up, shout and sing. I know I wouldn’t behave that way in a different environment, on the school run for example, because I’m also a working mum and the social influence in the playground is very different.
This tribalism filters out into many areas, it may be at work, a club, a support group, or a sports team. You may take on a vision or an image and embody it. At Rambutan, we embody our vision and values, because it’s who we are and it’s something we’re all passionate about.
Belonging to a tribe feels safe. Often there are written or unwritten rules that either keep us inside or outside of a group. We believe that a tribe is who we are. For example, I’m a working mum, I’m a Leeds fan, and I’m a member of the Rambutan bunch. You associate yourself with those who’ve got the same attributes as you. Everyone is part of a tribe. You may behave in a certain way depending upon your tribe and what the norm is.
Another aspect of social influences is social norms, where you conform to a group’s customs, etiquette, etc. You may behave in a certain way because of the norms within the group that you’re a part of. I certainly behave very differently at a football match compared to when I’m picking up my daughter from school. These different environments don’t change who you are, but instead, you behave in a way to fit in.
Authority figures can also be a social influence on your behaviour. Usually, your parents or guardians are your first authority figures, but then these change throughout your life. When you’re in school, your teachers and head teachers may be your authority figures. When you move into the world of work, these can be your managers and senior managers. These authority figures are people you respect and learn from.
Often, at the beginning of our lives and in our careers, we tend to bend and shape to be accepted by certain authority figures. I experienced this at the beginning of my career. I was trying to figure out the acceptable version of the work me. It took me some time to find a version I was comfortable with.
If you look at yourself in different situations and compare yourself to what’s perceived as socially acceptable within that environment, you may find that your social influences mean you’re not being 100% yourself. I find that it’s good to self-reflect. ‘Why am I only giving 60%? Why am I not being my true self?’ This may indicate that you’re not spending time in the environments that are the best for you. It’s ok to be in environments where you’re not 100% yourself, as these tend to be the situations that stretch us and teach us the most about ourselves.
How does your tribe affect your behaviours?