To understand Social Psychology, we can see how groups influence the choices we do and the steps that we may need to do. Social Psychology is the scientific study of how the presence of others affects the behavior and thoughts of the people. The surroundings affect many people. The people that they interact with, the people they attend school with, and even their closest friends. When students join a college fraternity, they meet new people who live and experience life differently. (Allport 1985) David Myers in his book” Exploring Psychology” defines Social Psychology as the scientific study of how we influence, think about or relate to other people. We are going to use two of his concepts to explain why average American young college students have committed acts of riots (Myers 2005).
Foot-in-the-door technique: This involves getting an individual to do a large request by making him do a smaller request. David Myers talks about Bart, who joined his friends who requested him to join them in smashing decorative pumpkins, one Halloween. Later that night, his failure to resist his friend’s pressure to throw eggs at passing police cars surprised him.
This technique succeeds due to a basic human reality called successive Approximations. The more an individual agrees to small requests or commitments, the more the individual will continue a desired direction of behavioral change. The more the individual will want to go along with bigger requests.
The principle work by first getting a small yes then later getting even a bigger yes. The theory involved is that the small agreement creates a connection between the person requesting and the person requested. In the future, they shall want to act in a consistence manner. Many schools settings and social gatherings use this concept. Once students have entered a certain group of students in their school, they conform to the group character. They may be requested to hold a peaceful demonstration. Once they agree, they try and justify the actions to themselves. They try to convince themselves that the reason they agree to do it is because they like the group, or because they like the cause of the demonstration, in this case the firing of their football coach Joe Paterno.
When the demonstrations escalated to a higher level, the peaceful demonstration request becomes a violence request. The student now feels obliged to join in the now no longer peaceful demonstrations knowing in their hearts that it is for the sake of the group and football coach.
Another factor is normative social influence. This involves persons conforming so that they may be liked or accepted by a group. In time, people conform to the ways other people do things. A student in school may behave in a way that pleases the fellow schoolmates. This will cause the students to love and accept him (Allport 1985).
The student will show his determination when a riot arises. He will want to, please his fellow friends by conducting the riot. It becomes the student’s responsibility to fit in and do what others are doing. This may not mean the student likes what he is doing. He often does things that are against the law. He has to do it in order to remain in the group of students that are fun to be with.
In conclusion, the theories of foot-in-the door and normative social influence can be used to explain why the students of Pennsylvania State University were significant contributors of serious riots, which destroyed property.