Academic and commercial researchers alike have been aiming towards a deeper understanding as to why humans behave the way we do and discovering the reason behind patterns in our actions and behaviors.
The study of human behavior and its applications have shaped how parents teach their children, how our school system works, and how businesses develop and market their products; everything is connected.
We all are active agents, continually engaged in attempting to fulfill bodily needs as well as mental desires within complex and ever-changing surroundings while also interacting with our environment.
The structure of human brains has evolved that support cognitive processes are targeted towards optimized outcomes for any of our bodily behaviors.
Human development, also known as developmental psychology, is a field of study that attempts to understand and explain the several changes in human cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning and capabilities over their entire life span, from the fetus to geriatrics. (Robak, R.W. and Nagda, P.R., 2011)
According to scientific research, human behavior is a complex interplay of three primary components: cognition, emotions, action.
- Cognition refers to the mental processes involved in comprehension and gaining knowledge. Cognitive processes include thinking, remembering, knowing, judging, and problem-solving abilities. These are higher-level functions of the human brain encompassing language, perception, imagination, and planning.
- Emotions are biologically-based psychological states evoked by neurophysiological shifts, variously associated with feelings, thoughts, behavioral responses, as well as a degree of pleasure or displeasure.
- An action includes everything that can be observed brought on by external or internal stimuli, either with objectively observable practices, introspectively observable practices, or nonconscious processes.
Everything is connected. Cognitions, emotions, and actions do not run independently of each other resulting in individual behavior.
Human behavior is also a result of individual personality.
Freudian theory is based on the conflict model of humans. With the use of clinical techniques of psychotherapy and free association, Freud felt that behavior is not always a result of conscious factors. Their “unconscious” is the major factor that drives the individual’s behavior. Freud presented that the individual’s behavior depends on three detriments: (i) id, (ii) Ego, and (iii) Superego.
The id is the deep-rooted unconscious energy comprising fundamental and instinctive drives, such as sexual and aggressive tendencies.
The ego, or the conscious mind, acts based on the reality principle, keeping the id in control by wielding a moderating and realistic influence.
Lastly, the superego embodies the moral standards and ideals, comprising conscious thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reflect parental/societal morals and values. (Tato, C.M. and Cua, D.J., 2008)
Internal vs. External Determinants of Behaviour
Environment plays a significant role in shaping behavior, including parenting style, surrounding atmosphere, and neighborhood. In contrast, personality development and genetic endowment are influenced by historical heritage.
Personality vs. the Environment
Both situational and personality variables must be taken into consideration to interpret an individual’s behavior. Still, a focus on the environment is as crucial as or perhaps slightly even more crucial than solely focusing on personality traits.
Cognition vs. the Environment
To understand one’s behavior, all we need to know is the individual’s previous responses to similar situations (stimulus) and the following rewards or punishments responses. There are two models which come out of these approaches:
- Behaviouristic Model: In this model, the behavior is dependent on two factors, i.e., stimulus and response. Learning occurs with this kind of model. Pavlov and Watson, with their research, felt that behavior could be best understood by stimulus and response.
The behaviorist model is represented as SR (Stimulus-Response)
- The cognitive model describes how a person’s thoughts and perceptions can influence how they feel and behave. The focus of psychology shifted from the study of psychoanalytical notions and conditioned behavior about the study of the mind towards understanding human mind processing, using only strict and rigorous laboratory investigation.
There are various factors that affect human behavior. However, humans are coherent wholes, and behavioral development is comprehensive; therefore development in any one arena of life at any point of time is fundamentally interrelated with the development in every other arena in patterns of mutual influence. (Sandler, J., 1969)