Both sociology and psychology study human behavior, but each of them uses a different approach. The latter delves into an individual’s or group’s mind and describes their reactions and emotions while the former looks beyond an individual or a small group through specific associations, such as religion, family, gender, or race, to examine society. According to Hunt and Colander (2016), people’s interaction and their groups shape their behavior. However, society is a temporary social product, and individuals can change it unless they accept it unquestioningly.
A person is, to some extent, conforms to a certain group in society with a common identity as opposed to being independent. For example, people from a given race are bound to act in the same way and follow the norms as other group members do. One of the reasons a person conforms is to make the decisions which the majority favors (Wagner, 2001). Moreover, there seems to be a group consensus when taking specific actions. However, this does not mean that each group member agrees with the proposed course of action; they can be independently having contrary opinions. Nevertheless, this is related to the functionalist perspective; the main aim of conforming is to ensure social equilibrium and a state of balance (Mooney et al., 2007). This interconnectedness is reflected in how each member of the group impacts and is influenced by others.
When people are in a group, they influence each other and behave more like a mob. In such a case, people act collectively with no centralized direction. This phenomenon is what Mooney et al. (2007) describe using the interactionist perspective. Symbolic social interaction with others influences one’s sense of self. Some of the reasons individuals conform to the group include gaining acceptance from others and achieving personal goals through group membership (Wagner, 2001). Therefore, people are not entirely autonomous, but follow the norms, values, and actions of the larger group to which they belong.
Hunt, E. F., & Colander, D. C. (2016). Social science: An introduction to the study of society (15th ed.). Routledge.
Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C. (2007). Understanding social problems (5th ed.). In The three main theories of sociology summary (pp. 1 – 2). Cengage Learning.
Wagner, P. (2001). As a philosophical science unjustifiable, as an empirical science anything else but new: classical sociology and the first crisis of modernity. In A history and theory of the social sciences: Not all that is solid melts into air (pp. 7 – 24). SAGE Publications.