Alter Ego: Using Values to Fight Peer Pressure
Now, I’ve requested Geoffrey L. Cohen to share his Idea of the Week.
My 12-12 months-old son came residence from school 1 working day, his head hanging small. A child experienced been teasing him, and he lashed out in return. Issues escalated until he observed himself in a fistfight on the playground, other little ones egging him on. He understood “it possibly was not the best factor to do.”
I was unhappy in my son—hadn’t I raised him to be a greater particular person than that? When I questioned him why he did it, he said, “Sometimes I treatment far more about my moi than about myself.”
This inspiration to guard and enrich our feeling of self is what psychologists simply call self-integrity.
Daily life is comprehensive of threats to self-integrity. You didn’t get a promotion. A friend slighted you. Even when there’s no actual danger, your head drifts to attainable ones: It’s possible I’ll choke underneath force at the future recreation. Perhaps I’ll are unsuccessful the large examination. And so on.
When our self-integrity is threatened even momentarily, we are additional probably to conform to others who provide validation, even when their sights are improper, reckless, or hateful.
We might feel that men and women who interact in destructive or anti-social behavior lack character, that they’re lousy seeds who have a historical past of disciplinary challenges. But study finds that is normally not the situation. One particular of the strongest predictors of teens’ bad habits isn’t their perspective but social norms—what they assume other teenagers endorse, specially the kinds they want to be like. In this examine, the teenagers who conformed most to anti-social norms were being the kinds who, like my son, worried about getting recognized.
That’s why punitive approaches to disciplinary difficulties in university, particularly suspension, do additional damage than good. Punishment does not assist teenagers come to feel like they belong. What is the alternative? Actions that affirm the self, that aid men and women to get in contact with their core values and stay them out in term and deed.
Don’t jump to the summary that poor actions displays terrible character.
Do consider the risk that bad habits will come from a want to belong and be observed. Assistance the youthful folks in your daily life mirror on their most cherished values. Then they can join volunteer teams, athletics groups, and other extracurricular pursuits that enable them to convey and act on all those values. In my son’s case, he became an avid member of a athletics club, the place he learned and lived out the values of hard work and teamwork—and located a highly effective resource of self-integrity and belonging.
With affirmation and gratitude,
Geoffrey L. Cohen, the writer of Belonging: The Science of Making Connection and Bridging Divides, is a professor of psychology and the James G. March Professor of Organizational Scientific studies in Training and Organization at Stanford College.