Social Expectations: How Valid Are Social Roles

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As mentioned above, we knew that social influence can be categorized into implicit expectations and explicit expectations. The differences in controllability, intentionality, alertness, or efficiency are the ideas to characterize implicit and explicit attitudes. Implicit expectations are unspoken rules which are inaccessible to consciousness and control. Like the unwritten laws of intermediate school, implicit expectations are enforced by group norms. Implicit social influence takes place when we follow these subtle, unwritten rules communicated nonverbally. Implicit expectations can be further discussed in two types. The first is conformity, which occurs when you voluntarily change your behavior to imitate the behavior of your peers. The second form of implicit social influence comes from social roles or expectations from a group about how certain individuals are supposed to look and behave. For example, it is quite often to see that teenagers today are easily involving in cliques or gangs due to peer pressure. The members usually share the same characteristics such as having the same hairstyles, putting on similar clothing, even acting as their members so ones are not ‘left out’ and can gain acceptance by the groups. However, these actions are not told by anyone. This is also why teenagers today are largely engaged in juvenile delinquency like vandalisms. On the contrary, explicit expectations are clearly and formally stated which are accessible to awareness, introspection, controllable and require cognitive resources. Circumstances like social desirability tempers explicit. Explicit expectations can also be subdivided into two forms which are compliance and obedience. 

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The main difference between the two is found in conscious awareness of a specific attitude and how the attitude is expressed. Implicit has less awareness of the origins, significance or occurrence of response and lack of intention compared to explicit attitudes. Implicit attitudes are unconscious while explicit attitudes are conscious. Furthermore, according to Wilson et al., 2000, implicit attitudes and explicit attitudes are the outputs of distinct underlying cognitive processes, and practical studies have proved that implicit and explicit attitudes predict various sorts of activities which are voluntary and non-verbal versus deliberate and self-presentational, correspondingly. (Dovidio, Kawakami, & Gaertner, 2002; Jellison et al., 2004; McConnell & Leibold, 2001).

In addition to that, implicit and explicit influences differ as implicit expectations are more greatly correlated with spontaneous behavior and explicit expectations are associated with deliberate behavior. Moreover, although implicit and explicit attitudes always link to each other in most circumstances, they can be discrepant towards one behavior. This means that the explicit attitude towards a behavior is, for example, negative whereas the implicit attitude is positive or vice versa. This shows that implicit and explicit influences do not always coincide.

Explicit and implicit attitudes show differences in their functional roles such as in their responsiveness to reasons or in their accessibility to speech. The first difference can be seen in their representational structures of psycho-neural connectivity, as a result, that causing them to interact differently with others. In contrast, another way in which describes their different functional roles is that they merely differ in the ways they interact with others, either owing to the same structure can be activated in different modes namely consciously, in working memory versus unconsciously, or because something about the content of the state can lead to different results when interacting with others.

As an illustration, a person with an implicit bias against black people may show that bias in many subtle ways. However, he may attempt to correct for his own bias by forms of affirmative action, instead of showing egalitarian beliefs. Another example in comparison of implicit and explicit attitude can be demonstrated is people show implicit bias by not inviting women with families on research collaboration but sound explicitly about women are not serious in their research.

In short, social influence can be either implicit which includes conformity and behaving according to a social role or explicit which includes compliance and obedience. To emphasize, implicit attitude is an automatic and intuitive association between an attitude object and their evaluation. Conversely, explicit attitude is a deliberate and conscious appraisal process of an object and its evaluation.  

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