The Power of a Group


| 4 Comments
I think it is safe to say that for many Penn State students, last night's game was one of the best experiences of our college careers and maybe even our lives so far. Surrounded by over 100,000 other dedicated Penn State fans cheering relentlessly for the win against Michigan, how could you not feel the emotional high? I can't stop smiling as I think about my experience at the game last night. I began to think, what is so  uplifting about belonging to a group, specifically the Penn State student section? 

After researching this a bit, I learned that belonging to a group motivates people to act because people feel more secure and supported by their group. This seems to make sense in relation to last night's game. The Penn State students felt safe and supported by the rest of the student section; therefore we all felt the drive to cheer as loud as we could for our team. Michigan fans, on the other hand, seemed more subdued and less obnoxious than they would have been if they were surrounded by all Michigan fans. Because they did not have the support of the majority of the fans in the stadium, they were not apart of the group and therefore could not act like they normally would.

Another psychological concept that can relate to last night's game is Groupthink, which is a psychological phenomenon where people strive for consensus within a group. Groupthink becomes more intense when a situation is escalated, for example, when a football game goes into quadruple overtime. Penn State fans grew louder and louder together as the game continued on and grew more intense. When one person started the "We Are" chance, hundreds of others joined in simultaneously. While groupthink can be a positive thing, it can also be harmful. People might compromise what they think is right in order to fit in with the group. For example, last night, all the students wanted to storm the field. Even though everyone knew it would be dangerous and people would get hurt, we all wanted to do it anyway. Regardless, people tend to use groupthink because it makes them feel secure and accepted by a group. 

While we are all individuals, Penn State students love coming together as a group to support their team. There is nothing more powerful to me than singing the Alma Mater with over 20,000 people who understand and accept me as a Penn Stater, or singing Sweet Caroline with the entire stadium, or screaming "WE ARE PENN STATE" as loud as we possibly can. It is simply an experience that I wouldn't trade for anything.

If you attend the football games, watch this video to experience the uplifting feeling of belonging to a group.
 8129789251.jpg

Also, its 5:41pm and MICHIGAN STILL SUCKS!

SOURCES:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201203/it-is-motivating-belong-group
http://psychology.about.com/od/gindex/g/groupthink.htm
http://www.simplypsychology.org/social-psychology.html

4 Comments

I really enjoyed reading this blog because how we can all relate. The cheering in a group has a very powerful feeling, but there is also a very interesting way to look at it. How does the cheering in such a large group affect the football players? Does it physiologically make them think better, and thus play better? It would really interesting to see. I know if I had thousands of people cheering for me I would be much more successful on the field because of that such strong feeling. The vibes in the stadium were like no other, and I truly enjoyed feeling apart of such a large group!

Also here is a link to an interesting article that has a different outlook on the topic:

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/why-being-worlds-loudest-stadium-bad-idea-8C11152514

While groups can be a good influence, there are a large number of examples where groups have had negative impacts on a situation. The "Bystander Effect," which is a popular, well-known phenomena, states that the greater number of people are in the area of a crisis, they are less likely to help the victim (due to the thought that another person will do it). Here's a link to more info on that:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect

I simply couldn't just scroll past this post and not comment on it. I still have not come down from the high I felt on Saturday night as we scored the winning touchdown and I don't think I'll be able to get over it for awhile. As hot as I was during the game being packed into the student section, I still found myself getting chills throughout the entire game. That's what the student section and the white out has the power to do. I watched the replay on Big Ten Network the following day and to all of us students and alumni and fans who were at the game, I think we all deserve a round of applause because the White Out really could not have looked better. For all you other crazy football fans who just still cannot believe Saturday night actually happened, check out the link below and see how many of the games in the article you remember, you'll be able to relieve all the madness!!

http://www.statecollege.com/news/columns/penn-state-football-the-top-10-wins-in-beaver-stadium-history,1397497/

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