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The most challenging issue that psychology attempts to resolve is explaining why human beings behave in certain ways. This essay focuses on assessing and examining how other people influence performance and human behaviour. In this case, the term ‘other people’ refers to people in our surrounding who have an impact and influence on our lives. These people include peers, friends, teachers, and family members. 

At the end of World War II, the entire world was shocked at how human beings could be so cruel and commit despicable atrocities. Many people asked themselves whether there was a specific character in a person that made them prone to violence and capable of committing inhumane atrocities. Adorn, Levinson, Sandford and Frankel Brunswick decided to conduct research to answer this question. Their research was on the authoritarian personality. They began by sending out about two thousand questionnaires. These questionnaires were tailored to gauge personality traits of selected individuals. In the next section of the experiment, they held interviews with one hundred and fifty out of the two thousand participants. Out of the 150 participants, half scored high on the authoritarian scale while the other half scored low on the authoritarian scale.

The researchers designed open ended questions that were particularly focused on examining participants’ childhood, family, sexual and social relationships. The researchers themselves were greatly influenced by psychoanalytical theory and psychoanalysis. According to psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory, development of personality is determined by childhood experiences and parenting practices. This research set out to ascertain a possible correlation between information collected from interviews and their score levels on the authoritarian personality scale. A strictly disciplinarian environment in childhood leads to an adult personality that projects feelings of hate onto other people. This proves that parents greatly influence character and personality of their children.

Particular authoritarianism features were not the result of unconscious processing but rather the consequence of a cognitive style that is close-minded. This is vividly explained in the first chapter of the book Investigating Psychology. According to Rokeach, authoritarian traits or dogmatism makes a person more responsive to the source of a message instead of the content of the message. These people were responsive to ideas simply because of the stature of the source. For instance, a message sent by a police officer will probably not be questioned to assess its validity and content. The reason for this is that a police officer is respected, trusted and upheld by high moral standards within the community. This example illustrates the influence of other people on our behaviour. It is obvious that both of these studies are flawed as they fail to take into consideration any other external factors such as culture and political circumstance.

It is important to discuss how childhood friendships impact our personality and behaviour. As human beings mature and become adults, the friendships they form and maintain have a lasting impact on their behaviour and performance in general. These friendly relations influence a variety of choices such as choice of music and preference for fashion. Friends can be beneficial in inculcating good behaviour and excellent academic performance. They can also be detrimental and stagger academic performance while building negative vices.

In 1970, there was no proper insight into childhood friendship. Bigelow and Gideipa introduced a way of examining how friendship roles progress as children mature into adults. The research team decided to prove that characteristics such as loyalty, commitment, similarity in values, and attitudes are valued. From the findings of the research, it can be concluded that as children mature into adults, their expectations from friends also revolutionize and change. As these relationships revolutionize, the level of influence that friends have on our behaviour and performance increases. Therefore, it can be argued that friends, whether during childhood, early adulthood or late maturity, impact our behaviour and overall performance to an extent. Another reasonable argument from this experiment is that parents are the first external sources that shape behaviour, but this is only until adolescence where peer pressure tends to take over the parental influence. During adolescence and early adulthood, friends have major influences on our behaviour, character, and overall performance. In her research, she stresses that there is a massive peer pressure influence during adolescence.

According to Chapter 6 of Investigating Psychology, it can be argued that we are who we relate to at all stages in life. However, the relationships we formulate earlier in life have the most influence in determining the kind of adults we eventually become. Although perceived as voluntary decisions made every day by consenting adults, character and behaviour,may not necessarily be that way. Every character we posses as adults, every decision made and any choice preferred can be linked to a particular external influence such as friends and parents. This is the reason why many psychologists advice mentorship as a form of character building and behaviour enhancement. Having a mentor is like having a particular character and behaviour to hold in respect and portray similar behaviour. It can be argued that mentorship proves just how much behaviour and overall performance are affected and shaped by people around us. It is the reason why when mentors behave contrary to expectations, which causes a major effect on the character and academic performance of individuals. This affects young children even more because childhood is the formative stage of character and behaviour.

Chapter 8 of Investigating Psychology focuses on how the ability to pay attention influences our overall performance and grasp of knowledge. As established earlier, we are greatly influenced by everyone around us in behaviour development and character building. In Chapter eight, research is done to establish how the ability to pay attention to everything occurring around our environment would affect our behaviour and performance. Without paying attention, it is impossible to recognize what is happening in our immediate surrounding and consequently much difficult for our character and behaviour to be influenced by other people. Interpretation of real-world problems is heavily dependent on the ability to understand the people around us. From paying attention to how other people deal with issues, an individual develops decision-making skills, stress management skills, and problem-solving skills. Therefore, it is imperative to first focus on improving an individual’s ability to pay attention before delving into how people around them shape their behaviour. The people around us can only influence our character and behaviour if we can grasp why they do what they do, which makes it important to pay attention. Apart from determining the ability to be influenced by other people, paying attention also plays a key role in knowledge retention, and this has an effect on our overall performance in academic and general tasks. Donald Broeben conducted a successful experiment in attempting to determine what goes into the cognitive process and influences the ability to pay attention. Therefore, it can be argued that apart from other people influencing our behaviour, the ability to pay attention, understand and internalize information from these people contributes to our behaviour to a large extent.

In conclusion, as adequately proven by all the experiments and extensive research conducted in Chapter one, six and eight of Investigating Psychology, other people do indeed influence and shape our behaviour and performance. However, behaviour and performance are not aspects built and developed immediately but involve a gradual process. The gradual process of developing behaviour occurs in the real world where interaction with people around us is inevitable. It is not obviously noticeable, but our character can be traced back to every interpersonal interaction that we have had in our lives. Therefore, it can be argued that the way we do things is highly influenced by our friends, family, co-workers and everyone else we interact with. In the study of behaviour, psychologists believe that interpersonal interactions are a key and integral contributor. Our general behaviour, the good, the bad and even the ugly are attributed to the influence we have had from other people around us. How much we are affected by the action of other people is heavily dependent on our ability to pay attention and retain any observed character.

 About the author:

Paul Martinez, as a former journalist, he knows how powerful a word could be. Now he is a blogger and writer at https://writer-elite.com company. Working with experts in academic writing is a pleasure. And he is happy to share my experience with those who are only learning. His motto is: "Live the life you love, love the life you live".

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