The first factor addressed in regards to Sara’s attitude towards her curfew is her age and her place in the development stages. She is an adolescent and female so there are biological factors at play beneath the surface. For example, Hormones, “hormones are chemicals that influence body growth, mood, eating, and sexual characteristics.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). When puberty occurs hormones are always a factor on mood and decision making for adolescents. Per Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, Sarah is also developing the virtue of Fidelity, meaning she is in the crisis of Identity vs. Role confusion, this is a point in adolescence when teens start trying to be independent. They start to “break the ties that bind” them with their parents in order to develop themselves. Adolescents are just starting to set their own morals and values. Also, their behavior is prone to risk taking before they reach adulthood, this may be why adults say they do not understand the thought process that teenagers use. (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). These things have influenced Sarah’s attitude toward her curfew and aided her willingness to break curfew for the first time. Another factor that comes into play is motivation, based on the idea of the “Incentive theory - Motivation that focuses on the reward or payoff for behaviors.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). She starts by wanting to belong to the new social group and by breaking curfew she accomplishes that goal. By the end of the night, she receives all of these unspoken rewards for breaking her curfew; she obtains new and popular friends and a boyfriend who shares a lot of similarities the perfect proximity, the attraction is mutual with, and he has great status being a grade ahead of her.
“Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort that you experience from holding two or more ideas that oppose one another. Dissonance theory focuses on the differences in the components of a person’s attitudes and/or behavior.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). Sarah displayed cognitive dissonance by focusing on justifying her actions by telling herself “She had never been to a party before and she wanted her new friends to keep inviting her out.” Her friends kept telling her how much fun the party was going to be and how she would be missing out if she didn’t go, so she decided to go. The conflicting ideas are the social group she wishes to belong to is telling her this is what we do. Although her parents have always been strict about the rules and she has not broken them before, Sarah changed her ideas. By allowing herself to be persuaded by a group who showed her that staying out late and going to parties was normal for them; she is trying to belong to this group and follow their rules that are different from her parent’s rules.
Sarah completely conformed to her new friends by complying with every request that made of her. “Conformity involves changing your thoughts or behavior to align with someone else’s.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). Which also explains why she broke curfew to go to the “fun” party they invited her to, even though she had never done this before. Then she did not even protest any requests as though she had accepted the group as an authority of what is sociably acceptable, this is explained by Obedience. Obedience is behavior that is in response to the orders of another.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013). Once she realized how popular her new friends were she had made a decision to join them from that point on no matter what the rules were at home this is an example of obedience towards the new social group. She is learning to become her own person and defining her own morals and rules based on testing the waters with her parents. “Normative social influence is linked to the core social motive of belonging. Internally, those who conform may feel more accepted.” (Carter, K. & Seifert, C. 2013).