EMA 23 5 14 Essay examples

Words: 1311
Pages: 6

How does society shape people’s lives?

The aim of this essay is to explore how society shapes people’s lives. The meaning of the word “shaping” in this context means to “influence or affect” (The Open University, 2013, YO32 p 29). This essay will focus on Childhood: Body image and stress related eating disorders, from Block 4, Unit 3 and Psychology: Social influence, happiness and natural and synthetic happiness from Unit 5.

Society has shaped us to embrace a rather different body image to that of 100 years ago to the point where being slim is now considered the norm (The Open University, 2013 Unit 3, 3.2). There has been a shift from the plumper body image seen in paintings dating back to the 19th century, to the ultra slim catwalk
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People who are less active and have fewer contacts may be unhappier than those who don't (Layard, 2005). How one perceives happiness may vary with the socio-cultural environment in which they were brought up, with people in Western society being generally happier (White, 2006).

The influence of happiness on our everyday lives contributes greatly to the way we feel about ourselves. As a species we have evolved a mechanism by which we can make up almost anything. Gilbert describes a mechanism he defines as an "experience simulator", which means we have the ability to imagine a situation before it actually happens (The Open University, 2013 p51). Another term introduced by Gilbert is "impact bias", which broadly means that within 6-12 months following an apparently life-changing event, one will be as happy after the event as before. Gilbert explains "real happiness is what we get when we get what we want, as opposed to synthetic happiness which is what we get when we don't get what we really want" (The Open University, 2013 pp50-51).

It could be argued that if we play a certain role we can synthesise a greater sense of happiness. The evidence suggests that whatever our role in society is, we have an ability to find the best in every situation. Layard (2005) points out that our societal roles play a major part in perceived