Every Family Has One The term "black sheep" has come to mean the outcast, the disreputable or undesirable member of the group, especially a family.
Within human groups, the so-called black sheep often acquires his or her low status from one or two leaders who determine the unspoken values and rules for a family or group.4
Resigned to their status as the odd one out, many wear the label proudly and distance themselves from the group that devalues them.
The "Black Sheep Effect" refers to the psychological phenomenon in which members of a group judge fellow group members more critically than they do those who fall outside the group. Thus, a disliked group member is judged more harshly.5 For example, you'd be more tolerant of your flower child Aunt Suzie if she weren't related to you. We want group members to fit in because their behavior reflects upon our own identity, and family members who don't conform attract negative attention.
When wayward members don't comply with unspoken rules, there can be hell to pay: scorn, ridicule, and alienation are often attempts to bring the noncompliant member back in line with the group's dominant values.
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