Our Turn: Why do teenagers do irrational things?
A few weeks ago, I was looking for a project to do in school. I wanted to answer a common question: Why do teenagers do irrational things? I observed some high school students doing irrational things. I saw over the years how some of my old friends have changed. Some changes made sense to me and others did not. Some changed their clothes, their attitudes, their looks and behaviors.
I looked to psychology to answer my questions. Why teenagers change their looks, attitudes and behaviors all has to do with conforming to the norm, social identity and bystander apathy. They are all connected.
Conforming to the norm is a type of social influence changing beliefs, behaviors and looks, all in order to fit in with a group. Students may change their looks and behaviors in order to fit in. Younger people are more likely to be influenced than older people. Changing who you are and how you think is not being yourself because you’re being influenced by others.
Social identity is when people are put together in groups. As a result, they start to change. They’ll do strange things like odd behaviors. They will start imitating others in the group and they will start favoring members or friends in their group over others. Then, they will start to adulate a member and fight other groups. This can seem irrational to outsiders.
Bystander apathy, also known as the bystander effect, is when there are a greater number of people in a group so they’re less likely to help or act on emergencies. There are two primary drivers in the bystander effect which are diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance.
Diffusion of responsibility is when everyone waits for someone else to act rather than take responsibility themselves. Pluralistic ignorance is when people try to appear calm and look for indications and see that others appear to look calm. If people have either of these things, they will not help someone who needs help, and not helping can be irrational.
Social identity and bystander apathy are all connected to people conforming to the norm and not being themselves. Social identity is when you change your behavior and you start worshiping and copying people. The bystander effect is when you’re in a group and members will not act on difficult situations because they’re just waiting for someone else to do it.
As an old adage says, “Until you tell the world who you are, it’s going to keep telling you.”
So, we should all expect people to do irrational things from time to time.
After my research about why teenagers do irrational things, it was a lot easier to process why and how teenagers changed themselves so much and what influences them.
It bothers me how easy it is to be influenced and just how fast someone is willing to change themselves to be liked and to fit in. Researching this information has helped me, and hopefully it helps you.
For more information check out: www.spring.org.uk/2007/11/10-piercing-insights-into-human-nature.php.