Externality in the psychology context refers to a concept that involves the impact of external influences, often unforeseen or unintended, on an individual's thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. These influences can be both positive and negative, and they originate from factors outside of the individual's conscious control. Externality is a crucial aspect of understanding human behavior and the complex interplay between internal and external factors that shape our psychological experiences.

Examples of Externality:

  1. Societal Pressure: An individual's self-esteem may be influenced by societal standards of beauty, leading to low self-esteem if they do not conform to these standards.
  2. Peer Influence: Adolescents often exhibit changes in behavior, including adopting habits like smoking or substance use, due to the influence of their peers.
  3. Media Impact: Exposure to violent media content can lead to increased aggression in individuals who consume it regularly.

Risks Associated with Externality:

  1. Negative Self-Perception: Excessive exposure to unrealistic beauty standards in the media can contribute to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.
  2. Peer Pressure: The influence of peers can sometimes lead individuals to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse.
  3. Loss of Autonomy: Excessive external influences can diminish an individual's sense of autonomy and personal control over their choices and actions.

Application Areas:

  1. Therapy and Counseling: Psychologists may work with individuals to identify and address the external factors contributing to their psychological issues.
  2. Education: Understanding externality can help educators create a positive learning environment that minimizes external stressors and distractions.
  3. Marketing and Advertising: Advertisers use knowledge of externality to influence consumer behavior through persuasive messaging and imagery.


  1. Mindfulness Practices: Techniques like mindfulness meditation can help individuals become more aware of external influences and manage their responses.
  2. Critical Media Literacy: Encouraging critical thinking about media portrayals can empower individuals to resist harmful external influences.
  3. Peer Support Groups: In cases of negative peer influence, support groups can provide a positive, alternative external influence.

Historical Perspective: The concept of externality has been explored throughout the history of psychology, with notable contributions from researchers like Albert Bandura, who introduced the concept of social learning theory. Bandura emphasized the role of external influences, such as observational learning from role models, in shaping human behavior.

Legal Basics: In some cases, the legal system recognizes the concept of externality, particularly in cases involving influence or coercion. For example, legal defenses like duress or undue influence take into account external factors that may have compelled an individual to act against their will.

Examples of Sentences


  • The externality of societal beauty standards often leads to body dissatisfaction among young adults.
  • The peer group's externality played a significant role in his decision to experiment with drugs.
  • She noticed a change in her eating habits, an externality of stress from her demanding job.

Similar Concepts or Synonyms:

  1. Environmental Influence: Refers to external factors affecting an individual's behavior.
  2. Social Conditioning: Describes the process by which societal norms and expectations shape individual behavior.
  3. Exogenous Factors: External elements that can impact an individual's psychological state.


: Externality in psychology underscores the profound impact of external influences on human thoughts, emotions, and actions. Whether it's the media, peers, or societal standards, these external factors can shape our perceptions and behaviors in significant ways. Understanding externality is essential for psychologists, educators, and individuals seeking to navigate the complex interplay between internal and external forces that affect our psychological well-being.