Social inhibition

Social inhibition

Social inhibition is a conscious or subconscious constraint by a person of behaviour of a social nature. The constraint may be in relation to behavior, appearance, or a subject matter for discussion, besides other matters. There are a number of reasons for social inhibitions, including that the person fears that the activity, appearance or discussion will meet with social disapproval. For example, a person with a low level of social inhibition might focus their conversation on subjects that others feel uncomfortable about or which are not commonly discussed in that particular social group; while a person with a high level of social inhibition would avoid touching on such subjects.

Inhibitions can serve necessary social functions, reducing or preventing certain antisocial impulses from being acted on.

Inhibitions vary greatly from person to person, and are rooted in the perceived beliefs of being judged by others, stemming from childhood experience in social interaction. An extremely high level of social inhibition is known as Social Anxiety Disorder, though is usually falsely perceived to be the result of a lack of confidence or self esteem. Despite the variety of inhibitions people may carry, all inhibitions can be removed with practice, either through cognitive thought, acting the part, or a combination of both.

The consumption of alcohol or certain drugs may reduce inhibitions with effects varying from person to person. At low concentrations of blood alcohol, social inhibitions are reduced. However, some substances may actually strengthen these inhibitions: for instance abuse of stimulants may lead to anxiety and heightened inhibition. This is more common in drugs with dysphoric effects.

See also