Monday, December 5, 2011

To Pressure or Not to Pressure: Analyzing Behaviors and Attitudes of Filipino Young Adults using the Myers-Briggs Personality Typologies

For most people, interaction with others happens on a daily basis and in various social institutions (i.e., home, school, workplace, government, market, church). The nature of such interaction could either be personal (e.g., family members, life partners, and close friends), conventional (e.g., neighbors and colleagues), or formal (e.g., boss, supervisor/manager, doctor, police, and clients). Moreover, these interactions either create, strengthen, or weaken relationships as a result of either familiarity, trust, or indifference. These exchanges also require a person’s conformity to certain acceptable social and cultural norms which include courtesy and politeness. However, such conformity relies on one’s decision to do so or not. In some situations though, one does not have any other choice but to conform.  
Conformity and Young Adults in the Philippines: A Quick Look

Conformity, according to Saul McLeod (2007), underlines “an agreement to the majority position...” influenced by an individual’s “desire to ‘fit in’ or be liked (normative) or because of a desire to be correct (informational), or simply to conform to a social role (identification).” Said conformity is often attributed to“peer pressure, one of the most effective means for enforcing social norms” (Clippinger, n.d.; Kroeber-Riel/Weinberg, 2003 in Block & K├Âllinger, 2008).

Social pressure involves not only the influence of a friend and a group of friends, but as well as those who are essentially not friends but who have the power and resources to command others to conform. Among the youth, especially teenagers, much social pressure comes from their individual families and peer groups. 

For young adult Asians, Kramer et al. (2002) note that such a stage essentially “means achieving for the family” particularly when it comes to the choice of mate and career. With exposure to foreign cultures, however, such orientation comes in conflict with peer pressure (which often involves smoking, drinking, and having sex) that can lead to tensions at home. Kramer et al. (2002) likewise adds that “Young adults also face such dilemmas as deciding the group with which they want to be identified and having one identity at home and another when out in public, a phenomenon known as dual identity.” Nevertheless, the need to belong (and conform) is instrumental to survival (Clippinger, n.d.).

Philip Kelly (2000) explains that the peer group in Philippine culture is composed of young members “embarking on parallel journeys through life” and who project an anti-establishment and egalitarian stance (p. 104). Referred locally as barkada, Kelly (2000) explains that the peer group is often formed and dominant among adolescents and young adults; it is also gender neutral, i.e., it “can relate to men or women of any age” and it plays a role not only in reinforcing gender stereotypes, but as well as in “redefining the aspirations and identities of youth, and a controlled rebellion against the overbearing institutions of family, lawfulness, and hard work” (pp. 103-104). Citing the observations of anthropologist Jean-Paul Dumont, Kelly (2000) writes that the barkada can “apply peer pressure to subtly foster social and moral conformity among its members and discourage originality and initiative” (p. 104).

Which personality types would engage or give in to peer pressure?

Analyzing Peer Pressure with Myers-Briggs Personality Indicators: A Proposal

Though commonly regarded as negative, peer pressure does have favorable attributes. Tina Rosenberg’s Join The Club: How Peer Pressure Can Transform the World (2011) describes peer groups as “the social cure”. Such potential lies in the fact that there are “peer groups that spread information and promote positive lifestyles for group members” (Social Capital, 2011). According to Australia’s Better Health Channel (2011), not only does a peer group address a person’s need for belongingness, it also helps increase self-confidence and sense of security.  Furthermore, it provides “a safe place to test values and ideas”, “practice in learning to give and take”, and “influence in making decisions about life”.

On a broader context, John Clippinger (n.d.) notes that the social processes of pressuring and succumbing or conforming to such pressure have evolutionary roots. These tendencies and behaviors have helped early humans survive. In a narrower sense, however, the ability to pressure others varies across individual personalities. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s Personality and Individual Differences (2007) identifies several approaches to defining personality. These include: (1) nomothetic (predefined differences) and idiographic (“individuals are unique and…cannot be described using the same concepts or terms”) paradigms; and (2) dispositional (human traits are consistent and unchanging human traits) and situational (traits and behaviors are determined by situations”) paradigms. In the context of this study about peer pressure, the concept of personality follows the idiographic and situational paradigms. Thus, this research intends to determine the set of personality traits that can influence an individual’s ability or inability to pressure others.

One way to determine such human attitudinal and behavioral attributes is through using personality assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is inspired by the work of Carl Jung and was developed by mother and daughter team Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. Robert T. Carroll (2011) relates that Katherine and Isabel’s goal for developing their tool was to enable people to engage in work that reflects their personality types. An alignment between the two could make people and the workplace “...more creative, productive, and peaceful place...” The former would be able to perform well as work, while the latter provides a space that respects and accepts diversity or where harmony exists in spite of individual differences (Mary McCaulley in MBTI Type Writer, 2003, p. 3). 

The MBTI involves four variables (Reinhold, 2006: Killian, 2007; Systems Thinker, 2011): (1) Introversion (I) versus Extraversion (E), (2) Intuition (N) versus Sensing (S), (3) Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F), and (4) Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P). Based on these variables, 16 personality categories have emerged: ISTJ, ISTP, ISFJ, ISFP, INFJ, INFP, INTJ, INTP, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, and ENTJ.   

Each MB type has its own characteristics. A.J. Drenth (n.d.), an American therapist, opines that MB personality assessment tool combines “a near ideal balance of predefined structure and individual variation” of human personality. This clearly echoes the previously cited idiographic and situational paradigms that serve as the context of this study on peer pressure. 
 
With the use of the MBTI, it would be interesting to determine which personality traits of young adults are more inclined: to pressure others, receptive to pressure, and indifferent to pressure. Moreover, such process may lead to identifying certain behavioral and attitudinal similarities and differences among young adults when it comes to dealing with peer pressure. It would also help in probing further into existing measures and strategies in dealing with peer pressure, particularly the negative kind that leads young adults to engage in situations with unfavorable consequences. Finally, this proposal, if pursued, could lead to possible learning methodologies and curriculum approaches that would integrate good values and approaches in dealing with social groups.

With young adults as future leaders of society, it is important to educate and enable them to acquire positive traits that would help other people in securing a better life. Though peer pressure is not always negative, Filipino youths are exposed to different social and cultural stimuli that affect their attitudes and behaviors, particularly when dealing with their fellow youths. It is important for the school and the government to provide opportunities that would improve their life skills in terms of interacting with others. What they could learn from these opportunities could benefit them later on as they enter the workforce.

References

Better Health Channel. (2011). Peer pressure. Young People (13-19) – Introduction. Retrieved from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Peer_pressure?open

Block, J. & K├Âllinger, P. (2008). Peer pressure in network markets – An empirical investigation. DRUID 25th Celebration Conference 2008 on Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Organizations, Institutions, Systems, and Regions. Denmark. Retrieved from http://www2.druid.dk/conferences/viewpaper.php?id=62&cf=8

Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2007). Personality and Individual Differences. Blackwell Publishing.   

Clippinger, J.H. (n.d.). Human nature and social networks. Open source project by Parity Communications, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.dodccrp.org/files/Human_Nature.pdf

Kramer, E.J., Kwong, K., Lee, E., & Chung, H. (2002, September). Cultural factors influencing the mental health of Asian Americans. Western Journal of Medicine 176(4): 227–231. 

Kelly, P. F. (2000). Landscapes of globalization: Human geographies of economic change in the Philippines. London: Routledge.

Mcleod, S. A. (2007). Simply Psychology: Conformity in Psychology. Retrieved http://www.simplypsychology.org/conformity.html

Social Capital. (2011). Peer pressure as social cure; Rosenberg’s “Join The Club”. Retrieved from http://socialcapital.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/peer-pressure-as-social-cure-rosenbergs-join-the-club/

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