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The influence of the social context on you

In this step, you will understand how a social context affects you through implicit learning of values, beliefs and norms.
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A social context, for example, the one that you just visualised in the previous step, is more than just the individuals, groups, and organizations that make up this social context. This social context also contains shared values, beliefs, and norms. Some of these values, beliefs, and norms are explicit and known. For instance, in your contract it is explicitly stated what is expected from you.

However, as we learned from the text on socialisation earlier this week, most of these collective values, beliefs, and norms are implicit. Implicit knowledge of the social context and of ‘how we do things here’ along with associated habits, beliefs, and values are transferred to you via socialisation processes. This process mostly occurs unconsciously. You unconsciously and unintentionally ‘copy’ others within a shared social context, thereby acquiring collective implicit knowledge. The individuals who are emulated are often unaware of this knowledge that they transfer, which is not articulated. We call this process implicit learning.

How do you become aware?

But, how do you become aware of something that is implicit and that is unconsciously transferred to you? How do you get more insight into these implicit values, beliefs, and norms within a (social) context, specifically, your context as PhD supervisor? This is indeed a challenge.

Often events or recurrent issues that arise in your social context can give you a hint about an underlying collective belief. For instance, recurring discussions with your PhD student about their role in team meetings might say something about your unspoken expectations and beliefs about what a ‘good’ PhD student is. A useful instrument to explore this implicit layer is the Iceberg Model. In the next step, this model is explained using a system thinking perspective.

© University of Groningen
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