Though I maintain a fairly balanced life in terms of socializing, focusing on academics, and upholding a spiritual relationship, I find that my life and my choices are greatly influenced by the people I am surrounded by. In terms of modern psychology perspectives, my life is significantly determined by the sociocultural forces I experience on a daily basis. According to the definition established in Dr. Joshua Wede’s Psychology 100 class at the Pennsylvania State University, the sociocultural perspective is an approach for examining behavior where humans influence others and others influence our behaviors as well. Not only are behaviors influenced by our environment, but also our thoughts, political views, choices, etc. When presented with the opportunity to discuss my experiences with a specific concept from psychology class, I immediately thought about how different I act towards my faith depending on where I am living. When I stay at home with my parents, I have a much more conservative, faith-filled life. Living on my own at school has helped me to develop my own belief system which is much more liberal. At first, the differences seemed so extreme that it appeared as if I had two different personalities. After examining the people and factors that influence me in each environment, it is clearly society and immediate cultural influences. The following discussion includes my personal findings with faith and my community.
Julie at Home – Johnstown, Pennsylvania
While at home during summer and winter breaks, I stay with my parents in a small rural town in Western Pennsylvania. Despite Pennsylvania being a rather liberal, mostly Democratic state, Johnstown as a whole is relatively conservative. My parents go to Sunday Mass at a church two blocks away from our home every weekend and partake in annual pro-life demonstrations. During my senior of high school, I was the recipient of a scholarship for an essay regarding my views on being a pro-life teen and how to encourage others to “save a life”. My parents were extremely proud and had a tremendous impact on the content of my essay. They proofread my essay on numerous occasions and would regularly lecture me on the importance of saving an innocent child’s life. I clung onto every word my parents’ spoke and yearned to learn more about the Catholic Church’s position regarding abortion. Their involvement with the church and my Catholic upbringing manipulated how I shaped my views concerning important topics in modern American society.
Julie at School – State College, Pennsylvania
When you are a young twenty-something living in a college town like State College, it is easy to lose a sense of yourself and conform to the views others impose upon you. Freshman year I upheld my traditional religious practices by attending Sunday Mass every weekend and observing other religious holidays. Three years later as more matured and developed junior, I find that I am not as much faithful as I am spiritual. To me, someone is “faithful” if they are loyal and devoted to a specific organized religion. As a “spiritual” person, I like to believe that a higher power exists, but I would never want to be told how, when, or why I should worship. At first this view of religion seemed individualistic and unique. I find many young adults my age agree that organized religion is too constricting in terms of worship. My roommate and I frequently discuss the pressures of choosing a specific religion we would choose to dedicate our lives to. Other friends I often interact with express interest in attending different religious observances or worshiping on our own to more fully connect with whatever higher power we believe exists. When I am living with or constantly being surrounded with people my own age, I believe my belief in religion is more focused on my personal fulfillment rather than doing what my parents tell me to do. In general, our generation of “millennials” are more open-minded and willing to accept others’ views. It is obvious that our society and our culture effect our daily behaviors, choices, and thoughts, and it is important to examine these aspects of our life.