Date posted: November 30, 2011

Behaviour is defined as observable or potentially observable activities of people or animals. It is anything a human being or animal does, that can be observed.

It is expressed through actions, gestures, movements or even through speech.  It can be observed unlike feeling or thoughts of mind, so behaviour is an objective phenomena. 

Relation with Minds
From what is said or done, psychologists can make inferences about feelings, emotions or thoughts or other normal or abnormal mental process of a person.  Behaviour can be considered to a large extend as a reflection of internal mental phenomena.  So by studying behaviour, we are studying the outward expression and manifestation of human beings plus the internal mental events.

Significance of study of behaviour in different school of psychology
Structuralism, functionalism and gestalts school of psychology are relating mind to psychology.  They are making little reference to behaviour in psychology.  Psycho-analytic school of psychology of Sigmund Freud is telling about unconscious mind.  He is saying that unconscious mind plays a major role in shaping the behaviour.

The Behaviouristic school originated with John B.Watson rejected mind as a subject of study of psychology.  Watson believed that psychology is the study of behaviour or observable or potentially observable activities of people and animals.  But the draw back of behaviourism is that it pays little attention to reasoning, personality, motives, etc.

The modern psychologists think that psychology is the science of human and animal behaviour, it includes the application of its science to human problems

Branches of knowledge using behaviour for their studies:

  1. Social Psychology: is the scientific field that seeks to understand the nature and causes of individual behaviour and thoughts in social situations.
  2. Sociology:  is concerned about group behaviour
  3. Sociobiology:  The role of genetic or biological factors affecting social behaviour has been stated in the field of sociobiology.
  1. Attribution: We are interested in getting an accurate knowledge about others mood, feelings, characteristics etc. Not merely we want to know how others acted and also have to understand why they have behaved in that way. The process through which we seek to get such information is attribution.
  2. Anthropology: Compares behaviour in different cultures. 

Faculties that influence Behaviour

  1. Learning and Behaviour
    Learning is defined as any relatively permanent change in behaviour that occurs as a result of practice or experience.

            There are different types of learning

  • Classical conditioning
  • Instrumental conditioning
  • Cognitive learning
  • Prepared behaviour
  • Unprepared and contra prepared Behaviour

These types of learning helps in framing behaviour and the techniques related with these learning can be effectively used to correct certain behavioral aromatics.

  1. Personality and Behaviour
     When Psychologists define personality, they tend to refer to the qualities with in the person or the behavioral characteristics of a person or both. In to this psychologists like Gordon Alliport gives more emphasis on inner qualities where as Walter Michel gives preference to behavioral characteristics.

            There are various theories to study personality.

  • 1.  Type and Trait theory
  • 2.  Dynamic approach
  • 3.  Humanistic approach
  • 4.  Learning and behavioral approach

The first three concepts focuses on the person in personality rather than behaviour, on the contrary the last one takes out the person in personality and gives importance to behaviour, based on different types of learning.

3.Memory & Behaviour:  Memory is a part of cognitive learning.  Memory helps to keep in store the past experiences.  So it indirectly helps in molding behaviour.

4.Motives & Behaviour:  Motivation is defined as conditions within the organism that arouse, maintain and direct behaviour to a specific goal.  We can set information about the motives of a person from his behaviour.  Motives of a person, if known, in turn helps us to make predictions of his behaviour.  So they are inter-related.

5.Attitude & Behaviour:  Attitudes are developed based on firm beliefs or convictions after proper evaluation of some objects and they will guide behaviour.  But we cannot expect that attitude will always influence behaviour.

6.Emotion & Behaviour:   Emotion is subjective.  Behaviour is perceived by external manifestation.  There are a number of theories showing emotion – motivation-behaviour relationship. For a number of emotions, different patterns of bodily activity can be detected.  Body language will definitely tell whether we are relaxed, tensed, aggressive or passive.

7. Genetic factors & heredity & Behaviour:  Study of mono-zygotic twins shows identical behaviour pattern even when they are brought up into two environmental situations.

8. Behaviour & Endocrine system:  Studies on aggressive behaviour has shown that endocrine system has a role in molding behaviour.

9. Behaviour & Environment Life situation culture:  They have a definite role on molding behaviour.  These, in turn, are related with learning cognition, etc.

10. Behaviour & Stress:  There is a major study on frustration-aggression.  Definitely it will influence behaviour.

Major types of Behaviour 

  • 1.   Pro-social behaviour
  • 2.   Aggression
  • 3.   Species typical behaviour
  • 4.   Behaviour in groups
  • 5.   Social behaviour

Pro-social behaviour refers to action that provides benefit to others but this will not have no obvious benefit for person who carries them out.  This is also known as helping behaviour, charitable behaviour and ALTRUISM.

This is more seen in persons who are giving a helping hand in emergency, like accidents etc. Studies are showing that external factors will influence pro-social behaviour and also the motivational role of the person will also influence the pro social behaviour. Out of this both these factors will be badly influencing when a large group by standers assemble in the accident area etc. That will reduce the capacity to take the responsibility.

When comparing with the personality thoughts we cannot pinpoint one personality trait have shown pro=social behaviour. But a personality which has the following qualities has shown a pro-social behaviour – Altruistic personality

  • Empathy for the suffering of others
  • Believing in  a strong just world
  • Felt more socially responsible
  • Less ego centric.

Aggression is a behaviour directed towards the goal of harming another living being. This is an intentional infliction of some form of harm on others. This exact opposite of pro social behaviour.

            There are various theories related with the study why persons behave in this manner.

  1. Instinct theory – Aggression as an innate behaviour

The basic nature of this theory is that it is an essential nature of human being. Sigmond Freud was the strong supporter of this theory. But psychologists as a whole rejected this concept because aggression type behaviour is influenced by social, environmental, cultural, living habits and standards etc.

  1. Biological theories – Psychologists are saying that certain hormones, serotonins, testosterone etc will influence aggressive behaviour, it cannot be considered as the final word.
  2. Drive theories are saying that external factors which make frustration in us will arouse our motives to harm others. This is frustration- aggression theory.
  3. Social – learning theory

Learning theory suggests that aggressive behaviour is learnt through observation or past experiences.

  1. Cognitive theories – Cognitive theories of aggression suggests that aggression starts from complex interplay from cognitive factors, emotion past experiences and current moods etc. Emotions cognition has a control over the other.

It is said that Type A personality people are more aggressive than Type B

  • Social Implications of aggression
  • Child abuse and work place violence.

Behaviour in groups
We will restrict our negative behaviors when in group being the notion than others are watching, analyzing and evaluating. But when small groups are moving out of place, they will have a different behaviour of audacity also, e.g. when we are alone, we will not make comments on others etc. But when in group we will audacious to ridicule others.

Species Typical Behaviour.
This is more common in lower animals. E.g. this is species specific. In human beings, we cannot see such species typical behaviour prominently the behaviour of small infants, certain emotions are considered as species typical although.

Social Behaviour.
It is learnt through constant interaction with others. This term is with reference to the socially acceptable and adapted pattern of behaviour 

Methods of studying behaviour
Scientific study of behaviour consists of making observations, analysis and classification of the observed facts, drawing general principles by induction and verifying the principles by deductions.

1. Introspection – It is purely a subjective method. It is destined to study behaviour with reference to the inner feelings and attitude. It has the advantage that less time is required. But the disadvantage is that false information will be obtained because most of the person will be reluctant to reveal their irrational motives behind the behaviour. To introspect means to look within. It is internal perception or self observation. The individual himself observes his internal activities and processes whenever and wherever he likes to do so. It is indispensable for the study of internal behaviour. For example, a patient after an operation may be asked to report how he feels. The patient will try to look within and recall what happened and how he is feeling no.

Introspection does not involve any expenditure as it does not need any laboratory or apparatus. We get a direct knowledge of the mental experience of the individual. But the method cannot be used by children or mental defectives. It is a purely private affair and cannot be verified by other observers.

2.Observation method – Direct observation of behaviour. Here we can observe behaviour e.g. book carrying difference in males and females. The males will carry books away from the trunk and holding with fingers and hand. Females are carrying book place it close the body and supporting it with arms. Here we can make an observation. But why that behaviour cannot be substantiated clearly.

This objective observations are also done in lab in controlled situations. It consists of collection of data by means of observing behaviour by somebody other than that persons. For E.g. when a nurse is asked to make an observational report on a patient with an undiagnosed illness, she reports her observations such as the patient’s temperature, pulse, color, facial expression, restlessness etc. Observation the patient is very important in clinical medicine. The method is widely used also in studying the behaviour of children and animals.

3.Case History or Clinical Method – It is used regularly in the medical and nursing setting. It aims at studying the causes and basis of peoples anxieties, fears and personal maladjustments. It makes use of case histories, interviews, home visits and psychological tests for that purpose. It gathers information from what the subject can recall.

4. Genetic Method – Psychologists will closely follow the development of the person from child hood to the present stage and identify some behavioral changes like thumb sucking, nail biting, bed wetting, aggression, conduct defect, hyper kinetic state, attention deficit etc.

5. Anecdotal Method- Personal artistic work and literature biography, contents of creative work often reflects the inner conflicts, problems and attitudes.

6. Psychometric method\Test method- Abilities, interests, attitudes and intelligence are measured by this method by making use of carefully devised and standardized tests. The test can be administered to a large number of personnel at the same time saving a lot of time, energy and dislocation of routine work.

7. Psychoanalysis – Psychoanalyst is a person either psychologist or psychiatrist who uses the particular psychotherapeutic techniques developed by Sigmund Freud. This is a method of free association dreams analysis etc, so that our repressed feelings are identified which causes anxiety, personality disturbances etc.

8. Experimental Method- In this method, made popular by Wundt, the psychologist studies, under controlled conditions, the effects of a dependent variable of changes in an independent variable. Many experiments are being conducted on people and animals dealing with learning, forgetting and many other mental activities. The tremendous progress of psychology during the twentieth century is mainly due to this method. For example, the famous Hawthorne experiment (1927-34) conducted in Western Electric Company, USA, by Elton Mayo, to find out in what circumstances production could be improved. Five girls participated. One by one factory conditions were altered eg: illumination, seating arrangements, rest pauses etc. Every single alteration in environment resulted in increased output. The output rose because of the interest which was being taken in the girls progress, showing the importance of workers morale in industrial production. The experimental method controls all variables.

The following are the steps in an experiment.

  • Identifying a problem
  • Formulation of the hypothesis
  • Distinction between independent and dependent variables
  • Arranging the environment
  • Analysis of the result
  • Testing of the hypothesis by the result by the result of the experiment.

The advantage of this method is that experiments can be repeated and results confirmed. Limitations are that it cannot always be used, especially if the experiment might be dangerous to the subjects and are obtained in artificial situations.

Biology of Behaviour
The hypothalamus is concerned with certain types of motivated behaviour  such as hunger, thirst and sexual behaviour etc. Emotional expressions are made through the limbic system which consists of structures in the thalamus, hypothalamus and cerebrum. When pre frontal cortex is damaged either increased impulsiveness immaturity in social behaviour can occur or increased apathy, loss of initial drive and reduction in emotional expression can occur. When the frontal lobe cerebral cortex is affected, movement of particular body structures will be affected which results in physical abnormalities of behaviour. 

Behavioral Disorders.
Mental health and mental illness are relative terms. They are closely related  to one another. Imagine healthy and unhealthy behaviour as part of a continuum or scale. Mental health or very definite healthy behaviour is at one end of the scale and mental illness or very definite unhealthy behaviour is at the other end of the scale. Borderline behaviour is in the middle of the scale or approximately halfway between the two ends as shown below.

Unhealthy behaviour can be identified when it becomes extreme for prolonged periods of time and prevent adjustment in society. Solitude is a healthy withdrawal by paranoia is unhealthy; a minor annoyance which is quickly forgotten is healthy anger but rage is unhealthy. Anxiety before an interview, is healthy behaviour but euphoria is unhealthy. Being excited about a promotion is a healthy behaviour but panic is unhealthy. Other unhealthy behaviour includes delusions, hallucinations, flight of ideas, compulsive actions or ideas and phobias.

I. The major behavioral disorders seen in children are 

  • a. Attention deficit hyper kinetic disorders- The major symptoms include, hyper activity, impulsivity, inattention and emotional ability
  • b. Conduct disorders- The basic rights of other children are violated and usual rules and dictums of society are not properly followed.
  • c. Autism

II.  Eating disorders associated with behavioral syndromes

  • a. Anorexia Nervosa
  • b. Bulimia
  • c. Obesity

III Exposure to substance – Use disorders eg: coffin tobacco dependence Heroine and alcohol dependence.

IV. Disorders associated with mental faculties showing behavioral changes.

All most all diseases affecting the personality, mood, affect, thinking emotion etc can cause behavioral disturbances.

Important types of behavioral therapy
Behaviour therapy is based on learning principle. Its aim is to change the mal adaptive behaviour to adaptive behaviour. The procedures are used according to the environment and problems. Not all the procedures are used for all the problem.

Classical conditioning learning technique
a.Systematic de sensitization – Useful in cases fear, anxiety to appear examination, apprehensions etc.
b. Flooding – for to get rid of fear of heights etc.


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