In the movie “Mean Girls,” Cady, played by Lindsay Lohan is faced with a new chapter in her life when she enrolled in a high school for the first time. Since she was home schooled and never had an experience of being in a regular school, she finds everything different as compared to her life back then in Africa. This means she has to go to school and deal with everyday life like normal kids do. Despite her new environment, Cady found true friends in the person of Janice and Damien. They taught her everything that she needs to know about the school and the various kinds of students in their campus. They also introduced her to the different classes tagged in every group of friends, one of which are known as “The Plastics.” The Plastics gave her peer pressure by transforming her into something she is not. They changed her looks and attitude towards other people. Cady, on the other hand, confirmed with the peer pressure for fun, at first, since she wants to share what the Plastics are like for real with her other friends. Cady spied on the Plastics and shares with Janice and Damien every details she learn about them. Every story and every secret the Plastics would tell her, she shares them with her two friends and they would laugh about how low the Plastic could be. Along the way, she yielded to peer pressure when she decided to join the Math club despite everybody telling her that being a member of that team means social suicide. For her part, Cady did not care much about being accepted by the society because she preferred to be on the Math team despite the effect it may have on her status. Only through this, did she show her true colors because she admitted she loves Math when everybody hates the subject. Cady persisted with peer pressure as she continued tagging along with the Plastics until such time she did not realize she was becoming just like them. Being with the popular group, made Cady popular as well. She was able to catch the attention of many just by hanging out with the Plastics.
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Regina George is like an “evil in human form” as quoted in the movie. She is regarded as the most popular girl in campus in two directions: students either love her or hate her. Some see Regina as a role model because of her physical features, while some hate her because they know what Regina is capable of and what a horrible person she can be. Due to the pressure with her school mates, Regina and her friends keep a book they call the “Burn Book.” This is where they write all the gossip and rumors they made about other people. By the Burn Book, they can retaliate to students who did wrong. As the story goes on, conflict arises when Regina allowed the contents of the Burn Book to be seen by all students in the campus. Regina can manipulate people around her in so many ways. Thus, she always get what she wants. She can create a perfectly made-up story about anyone and gets away with it. This is how she was able to turn the table around and make other people look bad, instead of her, when the Burn Book was read by everybody. She persisted with this peer pressure because this is how she can control other people and take advantage of the situations. She controls her fellow Plastics’ decisions and makes rules they should follow so they can be her friends. Cady was even influenced by Regina when she was allowed to be one of the Plastics. Regina taught her the harsh reality about high school and without Cady’s knowledge, Regina was pulling her down, as well.
Because adolescents spend most of their time outside the home with members of the peer group, it is understandable that peers would have greater influence on adolescent attitudes, speech, interests, appearance, behavior than the family has (qtd in Hurlock 230). This concludes why Cady was easily influenced by her peers at school. As a teenager, it is important to feel accepted in social group. To be accepted, they follow what the majority is in favor of, regardless the morality of the acts. Whether these acts are good or bad, they follow and do it so they can “fit in” the society they are in. Social norms are sets of regulation that are needed to be understood and followed by other members of the group. Sanctions or punishments are done to those who does not observe these rules (Gilbert, Friske, and Lindzey 154). Conformity exists when these rules are followed as presented.
Normative social influence is the ability to conform with the different expectations in a positive side of other individuals (Deautsch and Harold 629 ). The head of the Plastics, Regina George, does most of her dirty deals by influencing others that what she does is the acceptable and the right way to handle situations. In everything she does that is unacceptable, she turns it around so it can be perceives as the acceptable to social norms. To those who do not conform to her ways, she punishes them by spreading rumors around the campus, thus making them have a miserable life all throughout their high school.
Informational social influence is the way people accept information obtained from others as evidence about reality (Deautsch and Harold 629). An example of this in the movie is the controversial, “Burn Book”. Details that were written in this book were false, but they were assumed to be true once it was viewed by the public. The students and teachers in the campus started to run amok and confront each other when they read the book because they accepted the information as true. By this, Regina George, with the help if her friends, were able to influence the way others think.
High school life can be the most difficult, yet the most crucial time for a teenager. Peers have a lot of influence when it comes to attitude, actions and appearance of a child in this stage. The child decides which way to go or what norms to follow and parents are unable to control their kids. High school life is a crucial period because this is the time when kids practice their decision-making skills. Whether they will go with the bad or good society, they must know each step they make has consequences. Although teenagers do not want parents to probe during this period, it is still advisable for parents to keep an eye on their children. Just watching out for their kids from afar will do no harm. It is better to be safe than sorry, as they say.
Hurlock, Elizabeth B. Developmental Psychology A Lifespan Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1982
Deautsch, Morton and Gerard, Harold B. A study of Normative and Informational Social Influences Upon Individual Judgment. Research Center for Human Relation, New York University, 2000.
Gilbert, Daniel T., Friske, Susan T., and Lindzey Garner. The handbook of social psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1998.
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