Social conditioning THE THREAD

This thread could have went in a bunch of different forums on here and I hope it hasn’t already been made and discussed at length. I think it fits quite well in the popular media forum because popular media, surely, has a potentially conditioning effect on people.

It seems to me that in a lot of ways the unspoken core issue behind many of the conversations I’ve read on here about whether X is acceptable for Christians etc. - and arguably more saliently in the family life forum about children being exposed to certain things while growing up etc. - is the question of social conditioning.

For clarity’s sake, from wikipedia:

Social conditioning refers to the sociological process of training individuals in a society to act or respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society. The concept is stronger than that of socialization, which refers to the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. Manifestations of social conditioning are vast, but they are generally categorized as social patterns and social structures including education, employment, entertainment, popular culture, religion, spirituality and family life. The social structure in which an individual finds him or herself influences and can determine their social actions and responses.

Social conditioning represents the environment and personal experience in the nature vs. nurture debate. Society in general and peer groups within society set the norms which shape the behavior of actors within the social system.

What I’m really interested in reading people’s opinions about is whether we are shaped/parents shape their children through social conditioning, or social coercion - AND how easy it is to break free of this if so? Is it possible to become critical of & aware of the conditioning forces within Popular Media and as such erase any need for censoring ourselves? Or, do we ‘create ourselves’/‘self-condition’ through selective exposure — That is to say: is there weight behind the cliché of choosing what advice you recieve by choosing which friend you ask in a popular media/culture sense?


  1. Are we socially conditioned and to what extent?
  2. Is is possible to break free of social conditioning by becoming critically minded?
    OR 3. Is the only way we can ‘self-create’ through selective exposure to conditioning?

Being older and having that prejudice I believe that years ago we were conditioned by mostly our families.

Now it is my belief that we are largely conditioned by ABC, CBS, video games, computers, etc. and by parents who were also conditioned by them in their youth. My parents and grandparents and grandparents had a set of values that influenced me. How many people today view marriage and abortion rights from popular media the way the older generation did?


  1. We are heavily conditioned socially, especially in acceptable behavior, norms / conformity, especially in grade school, middle school, and high school. Thereafter,

  2. We can break free by independent thinking, critically minded - as most of us do in college.

  3. Selective exposure to conditioning is a tall order, and would be hard to do for young folks.

However, even in the workplace and corporate endeavors, people accept the company line, or conditioning - at least outwardly, in order to climb the ladder, survive, and/or take the path of least resistence. What they really think may be another matter entirely. I liken it to going along to get along. Make the paycheck, survive the layoffs, get to retirement. This goes in stages. Many successful bureaucrats are just conditioned wall-flowers who never think independently.

Religion stunts the mind by the appealing to the ego. It turns you not only into a slave, but a willing one.

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