Social cliques are nothing special. We have all seen and been a part of them, regardless of whether we knew it or meant it. Cliques are a natural part of human society. In fact, it even goes beyond that; researchers have observed cliques in many different species of animals. A study performed in the UK even focused on feral goats, revealing they tend to be significantly more physically aggressive against goats that are not part of their “clique.” Silly animals. Humans would not do anything like that. . . right?
Cliques are understandable. After all, humans are social creatures. We generally seek out the comfort that is social interaction. We seek out and learn from other people. A lonesome human is often a weak human. We did not make it out there doing it solo. We did things in groups, in packs. Being with people makes us feel strong. The problem, however, is when we do not “belong” in a clique. When we do not “fit in.” If we feel strong when we are in a group, how do we feel when we are isolated?
Jelena Levina and Natalija Ivanova, from Latvia’s International Higher School of Practical Psychology, did a study involving high school students. After extensive studying and surveying, Levina and Ivanova were able to identify the social cliques within the student body, as well as which kids were the center of these social cliques. After identifying these students and interviewing them, they were able to identify numerous facts, two of which I will point out.
Levina and Ivanova asked children who were at the center of their social cliques, whom they referred to as “nuclear members” of their peer groups, some questions about how they perceived themselves. This is what they learned. “Adolescents who were nuclear members of their peer group reported: more positive opposite-sex relation and same-sex relation self-concepts than adolescents with secondary centrality; and more positive physical ability, physical appearance, and same-sex relation self-concepts than peripheral/isolated adolescents.”
Pretty cool, right? These people feel pretty good about themselves. But what about those who are on the outside of the cliques, those that do not fit in, or as Levina and Ivanova referred to them, the “peripheral adolescents?”
“Peripheral/isolated adolescents reported they had less positive physical ability and same-sex relation self-concepts than all other participants of the research, and less positive physical appearance self-concept than adolescents with nuclear status.”
To me, that seems like a pretty fancy way of saying that they felt like crap. Their self-esteem was pretty low.
Now, I am not trying to condemn social cliques. I am not trying to say that if you are part of a social clique, it is your fault that people have low self-esteem. I am not saying that at all. That would be ridiculous.
What I am trying to say, however, is that social cliques do go both ways. They make us feel important, loved, and included, but they can also make us feel like we are invisible. It may not be your job to reach out to every outsider and ask them to join – many would not want to join anyways – but I will say this: every person left out is a significant loss to the group.
Even here at EMU. Imagine how vastly our culture could grow, how much we could learn, how greatly our world view would shift, if we made a point out of getting to know someone who was not born in the same country as we were.
-Kevin Treichel, News Editor
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