Understanding Human Behavior

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Human behavior is experienced throughout an individual’s entire lifetime. It includes the way they act based on different factors such as genetics, social norms, core faith, and attitude. Behavior is impacted by certain traits each individual has. The traits vary from person to person and can produce different actions or behavior from each person. Social norms also impact behavior. Due to the inherently conformist nature of human society in general, humans are pressurized into following certain rules and display certain behaviors in society, which conditions the way people behave. Different behaviors are deemed to be either acceptable or unacceptable in different societies and cultures. Core faith can be perceived through the religion and philosophy of that individual. It shapes the way a person thinks and this in turn results in different human behaviors. Attitude can be defined as “the degree to which the person has a favorable or unfavorable evaluation of the behavior in question.” One’s attitude is essentially a reflection of the behavior he or she will portray in specific situations. Thus, human behavior is greatly influenced by the attitudes we use on a daily basis.

Genetics

Long before Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species in 1859, animal breeders knew that patterns of behavior are somehow influenced by inheritance from parents. Studies of identical twins as compared to less closely related human beings, and of children brought up in adoptive homes, have helped scientists understand the influence of genetics on human behavior. The study of human behavior genetics is still developing steadily with new methods such as genome-wide association studies.

Social norms

Social norms, the often-unspoken rules of a group, shape not just our behaviors but also our attitudes. An individual’s behavior varies depending on the group(s) they are a part of, a characteristic of society that allows to norms heavily impact society. Without social norms, human society would not function as it currently does; humans would have to be more abstract in their behavior, as there would not be a pre-tested ‘normal’ standardized lifestyle, and individuals would have to make many more choices for themselves. The institutionalization of norms is, however, inherent in human society perhaps as a direct result of the desire to be accepted by others, which leads humans to manipulate their own behavior in order to ‘fit in’ with others. Depending on their nature and upon one’s perspective, norms can impact different sections of society both positively (e.g. eating, dressing warm in the winter) and negatively (e.g. racism, drug use).

Core Faith and Culture

Another important aspect of human behavior is their “core faith”. This faith can be manifested in the forms of religion, philosophy, culture, and/or personal belief and often affects the way a person can behave. 80% of the United States public claims some sort of belief in a higher power, which makes religion a large importance in society. It is only natural for something that plays such a large role in society to have an effect on human behavior. Morals are another factor of core faith that affects the way a person behaves. Emotions connected to morals including shame, pride, and discomfort and these can change the way a person acts. Most importantly, shame and guilt have a large impact on behavior. Lastly, culture highly affects human behavior. The beliefs of certain cultures are taught to children from such a young age that they are greatly affected as they grow up. These beliefs are taken into consideration throughout daily life, which leads to people from different cultures acting differently. These differences are able to alter the way different cultures and areas of the world interact and act.

Attitude

An attitude can be as a positive or negative evaluation of people, objects, event, activities, ideas, or just about anything in your environment, but there is debate about precise definitions.

Emotion and Attitude Change

Emotion is a common component in persuasion, social influence, and attitude change. Much of attitude research emphasized the importance of affective or emotion components. Emotion works hand-in-hand with the cognitive process, or the way we think, about an issue or situation. Emotional appeals are commonly found in advertising, health campaigns and political messages.

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