Human behavior

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Human behavior refers to the range of behaviors exhibited by humans and which are influenced by culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, hypnosis, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics.

The behavior of humans (and other organisms or even mechanisms) falls within a range with some behavior being common, some unusual, some acceptable, and some outside acceptable limits. In sociology, behavior in general is characterised as having no meaning, being not directed at other people, and thus is the most basic human action. Behavior in this general sense should not be mistaken with social behavior, which is a more advanced action, as social behavior is behavior specifically directed at other people. The acceptability of behavior depends heavily upon social norms and is regulated by various means of social control. Human behavior is studied by the specialised academic disciplines of psychiatry, psychology, social work, sociology, economics, and anthropology.

Human behaviour 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. Behaviour is impacted by certain traits each individual has. The traits vary from person to person and can produce different actions or behaviour from each person. Social norms also impact behaviour. Due to the inherently conformist nature of human society in general, humans are pressurised into following certain rules and display certain behaviours in society, which conditions the way people behave. Different behaviours 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 behaviours. Attitude can be defined as "the degree to which the person has a favorable or unfavorable evaluation of the behavior in question."[citation needed] One's attitude is essentially a reflexion of the behaviour he or she will portray in specific situations. Thus, human behavior is greatly influenced by the attitudes we use on a daily basis.



Human behavior can be impacted by many factors, including genetics. Everyone has different traits, such as intelligence and shyness, that are inherited from their parents. The impact of traits on human behavior is one indication that behavior is affected by genetics. Several other observations support the conclusion that genes influence behavior. First, behavior differs from species to species. For example, the behavior of a human is different from that of a chickadee. Likewise, the DNA of a human is radically different from the DNA of a chickadee. Second, behaviors are reproduced in consecutive generations. In each generation of people, similar behaviors occur. Third, changing biological structures may result in behavior changes. For example, a brain injury might cause one's demeanor to shift from generally polite to overly aggressive. Fourth, direct manipulation of specific genes results in behavior changes. Geneticists are now able to activate or suppress specific genes, and by doing so they can manipulate not only traits, but behaviors arising from those traits. However, one gene by itself does not create a specific behavior. Behaviors are affected by traits. Traits, in turn, are affected by specific combinations of several genes. Understanding the relationship between genetics and behavior is difficult but rewarding and research is currently ongoing.[1]

Social norms[edit]

Social norms, the often-unspoken rules of a group, shape not just our behaviours 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 behaviour, as there would not be a pre-tested 'normal' standardised lifestyle, and individuals would have to make many more choices for themselves. The institutionalisation 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 behaviour 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[edit]

Another important factor 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.[2] It is only natural for something that plays such a large role in society to have an effect on human behavior.[3] For example, when a lesbian couple was featured on the JC Penney Mother's Day advertisement in 2012, thousands of Christian mothers boycotted the pro-gay marriage company.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]


An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event.[7] The interesting thing about an attitude and human beings is that it alters between each individual. Everyone has a different attitude towards different things. A main factor that determines attitude is likes and dislikes. The more one likes something or someone the more one is willing to open up and accept what they have to offer. When one doesn’t like something, one is more likely to get defensive and shut down. An example of how one's attitude affects one's human behavior could be as simple as taking a child to the park or to the doctor. Children know they have fun at the park so their attitude becomes willing and positive, but when a doctor is mentioned, they shut down and become upset with the thought of pain. Attitudes can sculpt personalities and the way people view who we are. People with similar attitudes tend to stick together as interests and hobbies are common. This does not mean that people with attitudes do not interact, because they do. What it means is that specific attitudes can bring people together (e.g., religious groups). Attitudes have a lot to do with the mind which highly relates to Human behavior. The way a human will behave depends a lot on how they look at the situation and what they expect to gain from it.[8] Positive attitudes are better than negative ones as negativity can bring on negative emotions that most of the time can be avoided. It is up to humans to make sure their attitudes positively reflect the behaviors they want to show. This can be done by assessing their attitudes and properly presenting them in society.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McInerney, J. (2008, September 16). Behavioral genetics. Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Retrieved October 27, 2012, from The Human Genome Project
  2. ^ "'Nones' on the Rise: One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. October 9, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  3. ^ Spilka, B., & McIntosh, D. N. (1996). The psychology of religion. Westview Press.
  4. ^ Post. (2012, May 3). Jenny Block: One Million Moms Attacks JCPenney Over Ad With Lesbian Mothers. The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2012
  5. ^ Tangney, J. P., Stuewig, J., & Mashek, D. J. (2007). Moral emotions and moral behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 345.
  6. ^ Triandis, H. C. (1994). Culture and social behavior. McGraw-Hill Book Company.
  7. ^ WYER, R. S. J. (1965). "Effect of child-rearing attitudes and behavior on children S responses to hypothetical social situations". Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2(4), 480-486.  (registration required)
  8. ^ KECMANOVIC, D. year=1969. "The paranoid attitude as the common form of social behavior. Sociologija, 11(4), 573-585". 7 (registration required)