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The Psychology Of The "little" Person. Part 1 - Society
The Psychology Of The "little" Person. Part 1 - Society

Video: The Psychology Of The "little" Person. Part 1 - Society

Video: The Psychology Of The "little" Person. Part 1 - Society
Video: Applying for Clinical Psychology Training - Part 1 of 2 2023, March

Dostoevsky wrote that there are three things that most people fear: trust, tell the truth, and be yourself. Strictly speaking, this is the inner content of the "little" person, so to speak, his psychological credo.

Indeed, most of us are simply trying to adapt as much as possible to the social environment, more or less to create comfortable living conditions for ourselves. The principle is one - not stick out where it threatens your life (in the broadest sense), and every time stick out where it will increase the chances of satisfying basic needs or help to occupy a higher niche in the social hierarchy. In general, you may not be a hero, but you must be a man. So what happens to a person?

The "little" person always thinks down to earth. Even where, it would seem, it is possible to act autonomously, he will look back at others, such as himself, or at an authority to whom he is completely subordinate or to whom he is oriented

The main psychological feature of his personality is conformism and everything connected with it.

In the nets of conformism

There are many definitions of conformism (from Lat. Conformis - "similar, similar"), which agree on one thing - this is a change in the actual behavior or sincere beliefs of the individual under the influence (pressure) of the external environment.

Scientists have established that the inclination to conformism is a fundamental property of the personality (R. Crutchfield), and its basis is in the individual's desire to avoid the experience of alienation and the unbearable feeling of "freedom from oneself" (E. Fromm)

That is, the "little" person is afraid of responsibility, he is not ready to accept it, and therefore seeks to entrust himself and his life in the hands of an authority that instills confidence in him. This is especially evident when the formation of opinions and judgments is a difficult task, and the more difficult it is, the stronger the conformity. Actually this kind of conformism American psychologists M. Deutsch and G. Gerard called informational.

The fear of doing something wrong and God forbid to attract the attention of others forces the "little" person to constantly look around to become gray and invisible. It is the thirst for invisibility, constant mimicry that pursues him in everyday life. This is especially clearly manifested when faced with a unanimous opinion of the group, when the individual is forced to agree, although internally he may not agree, but is afraid that disagreement may lead to isolation or even punishment. This kind of conformism is called normative (M. Deutsch and G. Gererd), and it is very often produced by people with a fairly high social status.

Scary dream of the head

Sometimes it is difficult to apply the “little” stigma to certain bosses, since in the minds of ordinary citizens a boss is an authoritative person, vested with rights and responsibilities. But from many bosses, when it comes to making a responsible decision, you can often hear: "I am a small person and I can not do anything." Moreover, under conditions of anonymity, such individuals always show a high level of individuality, especially when there are no obligations.


Such a “small” person with a high social status produces conformism much less in conditions when he is surrounded by individuals who are at the lower levels of the social hierarchy. But such a “macho” will be able to “heroize” if he belongs to a social group that guarantees his protection (deputies, government officials, crime bosses, etc.). Sources of social influence are always significant for a “little” person, he is guided by them and decides to ignore them only in one case - when he is sure that none of the “high” people will know about his autonomy.

Robot control

If we consider the peculiarities of the motivation of the "little" person, then the state of satisfaction of the needs for security and affiliation is relevant for him, which acts as an internal generator of his activity. A person perceives the reaction of the majority as an action of group norms. These norms are aimed at meeting his needs for security and unity with those like himself.

This is especially evident in conditions of social deprivation. Austrian psychologist Bruno Bettelheim in his book "Enlightened Heart", presenting a study of the psychological consequences of living in extreme conditions of fear and terror, noted that "ideal prisoners" were like two peas in a pod and were very easy to manage.

According to the researcher, one person could control a million of such creatures, switching buttons on the panel, as radio models are controlled. But the paradox of the situation was that if a prisoner wanted to survive, he had to "eat every time there was food, sleep and read as soon as he had free time, and be sure to brush his teeth in the morning." The meaning of such activity is to produce actions of independent, autonomous behavior that "make a person."

Looking for meaning

Another great Austrian psychologist, Viktor Frankl, who was a prisoner of Auschwitz, also describes similar manifestations in his book A Man in Search of Meaning: “If a person in a concentration camp did not fight with all his might to save his self-esteem, he lost his sense of his individuality, understanding, inner freedom and personality … A person became part of a herd, which was driven to one place, then to another place, then gathered, then divided - like a flock of sheep, without his own thoughts and his own will … The desire to dive into the crowd was an attempt to save his skin … This was done automatically … which corresponded to one of the imperative laws of self-preservation in the camp - not to stand out. We have always tried to avoid attracting the attention of the SS men."

The great Russian writer Varlam Shalamov described similar tests of the prisoners of the Stalinist GULAG in "Kolyma Tales", which testifies to the identity of the subjective perception of their position by prisoners who were deprived not only of freedom, but also of individuality, of everything that makes a person a person.

All on the same face

In conditions of sufficient freedom, the "little" person independently searches for a "human herd" into which he could "dive" and hide from the "all-seeing eye of Sauron." The main thing is not to attract attention from government agencies, members of the public, neighbors and even relatives.

Social networks have provided the “little” person with an exceptional opportunity, hiding behind the “Gulchitai burqa”, to pour out aggression, hatred and contempt for the environment / others that his “wounded soul” accumulates in his daily life.

The "little" person is especially aware of envy, jealousy, anger, revenge and despair. And since a child lives in every adult (E. Bern), the level of installation of his touchiness will depend on what his share in the personality profile is.

The smaller the person, the greater the level of his resentment

Conformity constantly "pushes" the "little" person to submit to external pressure, as this provides him with the maximum opportunity for survival. Even in everyday life, when nothing threatens such a person, he is still incapable of autonomous actions.

Without will, without responsibility

The experiment "Submission to authority" by the American social psychologist S. Milgram (1963) is an additional confirmation of this. 65% of the subjects went to the end, despite the fact that they were aware of the effect of electric voltage on a living organism. That is, the supply of a voltage of 450 volts did not bother them at all, and they were ready to obey the experimenter, to carry out his commands, even in spite of the internal rejection of their own actions.


It is worth recalling the statement of one worker of the Dachau concentration camp who spoke as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials. When he was told that he could not help but know that his actions (opening - closing the air dampers in the gas chamber) led to the murder of camp prisoners, this "respectable German" objected that he did not understand what he was accused of, because he just did my job well. Such a "little" burgher considered those who gave him criminal commands to be responsible for these massacres.

To be continued. In the second part of the article, we will reflect on whether a small person can be selfish and how the “black swans” of unpredictable changes affect him.

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