Social Influence Plays A Key Role Education Essay

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Social influence plays a key role in human behavior. The changing of thought, attitudes, behaviors, and feelings due to the interaction of individuals with other individuals or a group identify as social influence (Rashotte, 2007). In addition, Li and Tang (2011) argued that social influence as the change of behaviors that individuals accepted intentionally or unintentionally by other people.

Ryan (2000) claims that parents and peers are part of social support that can provide a person the suggestions and feedbacks about what he or she should think, decide, and behave in situations. Parents and peers as social support also could be a place for individual to get inspiration and motivation or a lack thereof. However, Ryan (2000) argues that people could change behavior and cognition because of their parents and peers. The impact of parents and peers in a particular behavior and cognition could lead people to a new behavior and viewpoints that might be difference with themselves.

Probably the strongest influence in individuals live is the family that they grew up in. From the perspective of the social sciences, families could influence adolescents through the socialization process or the social dynamics that make the young capable of participating in interpersonal relationships and through which a society reproduces itself (Elkin & Handel, 1988). However, family has an important part in learning activities. Previous studies claim that the family environment is the most powerful influence in determining students' school achievement and academic motivation (Kellaghan, 1993). Similarly, Coleman (1991) states that parents' involvement in learning activities has substantial emotional and intellectual benefits for students. 

Current studies have documented that there is a significant impact of family involvement on student achievement in literacy (Faires et al, 2000; Quigley, 2000; West, 2000). The positive impact of family involvement has been noted in the areas of mathematics, art, music (Epstein, 2001), and writing (Chavkin et al, 2002; Epstein, 2001).

Peers or friends also have a big deal on individual change. Peers can be defined as a group of people that they spend time together and feel a sense of connection. According to Gibson, Gandara & Koyama (2004) peers or peer groups are situated that sharing participation in particular of activities and behaviors. The potential of peers to influence individual becomes important issue in education. The issues include college preparation, choosing programs, academic achievement, self-esteem etc. However, the effects of peers in education area are usually to be referred to academic' achievement. There is now a small but rapidly growing empirical literature that attempts to measure the impact of peers on student achievement in some countries. Several recent papers on the impact of schools assume that student achievement is influenced by the characteristics, achievement, or behavior of a person's classmates (Nechyba & Thomas, 2000; Caucutt, 2001).

As known, people make decisions about many things. They sometimes make own personal decisions, which are including medical, education, career, and financial choices. Usually, the decision making process is specific to the decision being made. Some choices are simple, seem straight forward, while others are complex and require a multi-step approach to making decision. There are many sources of information available to help individual make decisions. Sometimes individual might need to seek out experts, conform to the way others or a group are behaving, or look to some other source of information. One other way that usually practiced by people is to use informational social influence, he or she looks to the behaviors of others who are also in the same or similar situation.

Several factors influence decision-making. These factors, including past experience (Juliusson, Karlsson, & Garling, 2005), cognitive biases (Stanovish & West, 2008), age and individual differences (Bruin, Parker, & Fischoff, 2007) believe in personal relevance (Acevedo, & Kruger, 2004), and an escalation of commitment, influence what choices people make. The factors that influence the process may affect the outcomes.

In short, students sometime make important decisions. Family and peers as social support might be influence their decision-making and probably it could be affecting their achievement. Thus, this study will be focusing on family as well as parents and peers influence on decision-making, and attempt to relate it with academic achievement. By having this, it could be benefits for educators by giving ideas on the importance of providing necessary social support influences on learning that educators could use for developing achievements especially in university level.


Improving student achievement has long been an extremely complicated and vexing problem for education systems and policy makers. Lee et al, (1999) argues that social support could be one of the importance approaches in improving students learning. This approach focuses on strengthening social relationships among student in and out of schools. Its might suggest that students will learn more in setting in which they are well known and cared for and in which their social and emotional development is supported.

However, a growing number of literature and empirical research have indicated that college students and young adults cite parents as an important influence on students' choices (Knowles, 1998; Mau & Bikos, 2000, Joseph, 2000; Mazzarrol & Soutar, 2002). Several studies showed that in the adolescents' years, peers are arguably even more important than parents, teachers, and counselors, and the peers influenced decision of youth that can have long lasting consequences (Sewell et al, 1970; Eisenberg 2004; Gardner & Steinberg 2005).

Therefore, this study attempts to understand the role of social support (family/friend) in managing students decision-making that might be effect academic achievement. The study also attempts to identify between family and friend who most have a big influence on students' life. The sample wants to explore three aspects on influence based on gender, level of study, national and international students.


This research has come up with several research objectives, which are:

To find out the relationship between social support influence and decision-making among IIUM students.

To find out the relationship between decisions that has been expected by students with academic achievement.

To find out any differences in genders, level of study, and nationality on social support influence.

To find out differences between family and friend on social support influence.

To find out any differences on taking decisions between genders, level of study, and nationality.


This study attempts to answer the following of questions:

Is there any differences in the level of social support influence base on:


Level of study


Is there any differences between family and friend on social support influence?

Is there any relationship between social support influence and decision-making?

Is there any difference in the level of taking decision base on:


Level of study


Is there any relationship between social support influence and academic achievement?


There are several reasons for conducting this research. Firstly, the research wants to identify whether social support (family/friend) still have an impact or not in university level. As known, previous studies more focused on the effect of social support for children and teenagers' development (Urberg et al, 2002; Gardner & Steinberg, 2005; Henry & Rickman, 2006). In addition, the study attempts to categorize the influence based on gender, level of study and nationality.

First, psychologists and educators have long recognized the important of family and friend in students' outcomes. As discussed before, family has powerful to influence in students' achievement and academic motivation (Kellaghan, 1993). Whereby, studies identified that friends highly bring effects on human behavior and cognition (Bradbury, 1998; Murcia et al, 2008; Waddell, 2010). It would be worthwhile to understand how family and friend could affect students on behavior, cognition as well as their achievement. However, the study more focuses on cognition influenced while describes in students decision-making process.

Second, the process of making a decision is one of the most complex mechanisms in human thinking. Referred to Orasanu & Connolly (1993), decision-making defines as a series of cognitive operations performed, which should include the elements from the environment in a specific time and place. Several factors that could influence human decision-making, family and friend are part of factors that might affect human decisions. Thus, the study attempts to identify decision-making process on university students.

Third, by looking to decision-making that have been decided by students. The study wants to analyze whether decision that they decided has an effect or not on their academic achievement.

Fourth, this study simultaneously controls for the fixed inputs of gender, level of study, local and international on measuring and examining social support influences, decision making process and academic achievements. Further, unlike previous works, which most focused exclusively on social support influence in classroom activities. However, this study focuses on identifying social support influence in whole situations that are related to the issues, which are faced by students during their study.

Finally, by having understanding and knowledge about social support influence and decision-making process of students, it could help educators to organize proper program that facilitate students when their faced the issues. In addition, since social support influence is very important to students, this study might also help parents to understand the roles in helping their children when making decisions that related to their academic achievement.


In order to understand the purpose and intent of the study, it is necessary to define some fundamental terminology that is applicable to this particular study. Several essential terms are defined below.

Social Support

Conceptual definition

Social support defines as the individual belief that one is cared for and loved, esteemed and valued, and belongs to a network of communication and mutual obligation (Cobb, 1976). In addition, Demaray & Malecki (2002), argue that social support is as an individual's perceptions of general support or specific supportive behaviors (available or enacted on) from people in their social network, which enhances functioning or may buffer them from adverse outcomes.

Operational definition

In this study, social support is referred to support of family and friends in terms of emotional, socializing, and advice or guidance. Social support will be measured by using Social Support Behaviors Scale (SSB) by Vaux, Riedel, and Stewart (1987). The items that have been used in this study were only a 15-item instrument designed to assess emotional, socializing and advice or guidance.

Decision Making

Conceptual definition

Decision-making is a process of identifying and selecting from among possible solutions to a problem according to the demands of the situation (Tzeng & Huang, 2011). However, it can be regarded as cognitive process that the result based on selection of action among several alternatives and every decision making process produces is a final choice.

Operational Definition

This study refers to decision-making that normally students take during study. There are several decision that students do such as deciding subjects of study, co-curricular, lecturer, group of discussion and

Academic Achievement

Conceptual Definition

According to Kerlinger (1978) described academic achievemnt as grade or mark that have been achieved by students at schools, college or university. The most normally used for indicator of measuring academic achievement are by looking into standardized achievement test, grades and GPA or CGPA.

Operational Definition

For this study, the academic achievement refers to students' current CGPA. However, students who have CGPA below than 3.00 are categorized as under achievement and those who have CGPA above 3.00 are categorized as high achievement.