Handling Social Influences

Has this happened to you? You are meeting up with some friends for dinner and drinks. You tell yourself you will have just 1 drink. You don’t feel particularly in the mood to drink much. Your desire for a drink is low. All goes well until the server asks if anyone wants another round. You say “no,” but your friends all go for a second round. You weren’t craving another drink, but now, you notice that maybe a second drink doesn’t sound so bad after all. Once the drinks arrive, you find yourself wanting one. Your desire has changed from low to high. You order another drink. How did your feelings change so quickly that now your desire is high? It’s because of your thoughts.

As humans, we are influenced by the action of others. We tend to imitate others. This is known in psychology as behavior contagion – where the actions (or behaviors) of others change our thoughts and increases the likelihood we will conform to their behavior. How do you combat this? Stop hanging out with friends who drink?

the actions or behaviors of others change our thoughts and increases the likelihood we will conform to their behavior.

Research shows that you have a greater likelihood of conforming to the action of others if you don’t have pre-defined goals or values. In other words, when you don’t have a firm position or opinion about something, you can be more easily swayed to go along with the flow. Values serve as our guidepost for making decisions and help keep us protected from making decisions that are not our own. Clarity around what we want for our life (our values) keep us in alignment with who and how we want to be. When we honor our values, we are living intentionally.

We are choosing and living the life we want and not living in default mode.

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