Monday, February 20, 2017

So You Got a Bid, Now What?: 10 Things Psychology Can Tell Us About Greek Life

By Amy Conner, Felicia Knott, Jade Lewis, Dacotah McGaffic, and Molly Zydel

1. You're more likely to go Greek if your friends do too.

It is your freshman year of college. Walking around campus, you notice all of the other students wearing Greek Letters and hanging out with others in their fraternity or sorority. They seem to be having the time of their lives. Then, all of your friends announce that they will be rushing in order to join Greek Life. After hearing this, you decide to join in the fun and rush as well. Your behavior is well-described by Social Impact Theory. This theory states that the impact of social influence increases when there are more people surrounding a person with similar beliefs and behaviors (Seltzer, Johnson, & Amira, 2013). Applying this to Greek Life on campus, this leads us to believe that college students become involved in fraternities and sororities when the people they are frequently around are also involved in Greek Life. They also tend to become more like the group as a whole, because those behaviors and beliefs are what they are surrounded by on a daily basis.

2. You'll do a lot to belong to your group. 

Even though hazing is strictly prohibited by many schools, there are still cases seen in the news about pledges needing medical attention due to a right-of-passage activity. For example, just a few years ago two fraternities at the University of Virginia sent several pledges to the hospital after one of these tasks. You may ask why these students participate in these potentially dangerous activities. Compliance in these activities can be traced back to these students’ need to belong. These students tend to fear that denying participation in these activities will leave them shunned and in many cases, they are not completely wrong.

3. People who "go Greek" are very responsive to social situations.

After being in Greek for a while, you notice that you seem to almost have different personalities around different people. You change to accommodate for different social demands across several different situations. Psychologists would say that you are high in your public self-consciousness. Those who are high in public self-consciousness were also high on self-monitoring, meaning that those who are very aware of how others perceive them also tend to be aware of social demands, and change in order to meet those demands. People who join Greek organizations are likely to be high on these personality traits.

4. You'll do what your Big does.

Have you ever been in a new place where you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing? You know, like at your first party and you have no clue how a keg works. So after having a minor panic attack, watched your Big get their beer and before you knew it, you had it down like a pro. Everyone’s been there. When we don't know how to behave we use other people as information to dictate, or influence, our behavior. Many studies in Greek Life show that after observing peers engage in drinking behaviors an individual may then model their own drinking behavior according to these observations because it is seen as a social norm.

5. You'll encounter pressures to conform with your group's behavior. 

The pressure to accept group norms has a significant impact on the high rates of alcohol consumption in fraternity members. With any group, there are pressures to accommodate social norms, but this pressure seems to be particularly high in these starts as superficial change in behavior to be a part of the in group, many of organizations leading to a form of public conformity. Although this values. these member are eventually influenced into truly believing in the groups

6. You will likely change your behavior to match others in the group.

A majority of individuals in Greek life tend to be high self-monitors due to the strong pressures to conform to the group. Because of how necessary it is to conform when involved in a Greek organization, if you are a high self-monitoring individual you will likely very willingly change your behavior so as to not appear unloyal or not passionate about your membership in the group. Self- monitoring is generally explained as the tendency to change one’s behavior in order to meet the demands of social situations. We all do it to some extent, whether it’s high or low self-monitoring. By definition, low self-monitors generally use inner beliefs and values when deciding how to behave, while high self-monitors usually monitor their surroundings and change their behavior to fit in.

7. Your identities merge as one. 

Ever wonder why all sorority girls or frat boys all seem the same? Social Identity theory describes situations in which one’s sense of self is based on group membership. In a study done by Biernat and others (1996), those parts of a fraternity or sorority conform to the behavior of that membership. They conform to the ideas, positive stereotypes, and attitudes of their group and make it their own. Over time, membership in the fraternity or sorority creates a self-schema, meaning that it becomes an important part of members' identities.

8. You'll do your best to present the best you.  

So now you’ve met a few people. They’re extra nice, know everyone, have good hair and are basically perfect. You, on the other hand, are not perfect and close to begging for bids so you decide to change your self-presentation. Self presentation, or impression management, are strategies used to shape and manage what others think of them which can be accurate or misleading. These strategies are used to express oneself in a manner that is seemed to be desirable. In doing so the individual controls information about themselves to allows others to have a specific impression on them.

9. You may develop a bias against those who didn’t go Greek.

If you join a Greek organization members of the organization will become your “in-group”, which is a social group in which a person psychologically identifies as a member. Membership in a group like Greek life typically becomes a very large factor in its members’ identities. After all, who doesn’t want to have a group of people in which they feel they truly belong? In contrast, an out-group consists of people who do not belong to the in-group. As one study explains, “individuals who belong to socially advantaged groups [such as Greek life] typically exhibit more implicit preference for their in-groups and bias against out-groups than do members of socially disadvantaged groups [people not involved in Greek life].” So, you will likely end up developing an implicit preference for those in your sorority or fraternity and develop a bias against those not involved in Greek life. Be aware of this change you may experience, and try not to exclude your pre-Greek life friends!

10. It makes you more collectivistic.     

Groups are probably one of the first things you associate with Greek life. Collectivism is when someone gives a group priority over themselves. Greek life gives any member more of a collectivist personality. Greek life gives you the opportunity to work close with others and form a close relationship with them. Since working closely with everyone for the amount of time they are part of the organization, they retain this collectivist attribute. This means that even after one leaves college for greater things, they still maintain this collectivist approaches.

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