Human behavior

Human behavior is the response of individuals or groups of humans to internal and external stimuli. It refers to the array of every physical action and observable emotion associated with individuals, as well as the human race. While specific traits of one's personality and temperament may be more consistent, other behaviors will change as one moves from birth through adulthood. In addition to being dictated by age and genetics, behavior, driven in part by thoughts and feelings, is an insight into individual psyche, revealing among other things attitudes and values. Social behavior, a subset of human behavior, study the considerable influence of social interaction and culture. Additional influences include ethics, social environment, authority, persuasion and coercion.

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 beyond acceptable limits. In sociology, behavior in general includes actions having no meaning, being not directed at other people, and thus all basic human actions. Behavior in this general sense should not be mistaken with social behavior, which is a more advanced social action, 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 social sciences, which include psychology, sociology, economics, and anthropology.

Behavior changes throughout an individual’s life, as they move through different stages of life. For example, adolescence, parenthood and retirement. Human behavior is shaped by psychological traits. For example, extraverted people are more likely to introverted people to participate in social activities like parties.[1] Personality 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 pressured into following certain rules and displaying 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.



Long before Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species in 1858, 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 behavioral genetics is still developing steadily with new methods such as genome-wide association studies.[2] Evolutionary psychology studies human behavior as the product of natural selection. Human psychology and behavior is shaped by our evolutionary past. According to evolutionary psychology, humans try to increase their social status as much as possible. This increases their chances of reproductive success. They may do this by fighting, amassing wealth or helping others with their problems.

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 their norms to 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. attending birthday celebrations, dressing warm in the winter) and negatively (e.g. racism, drug use).


Creativity is a fundamental human trait. It can be seen in tribes' adaptation of natural objects to make tools, and in the uniquely human pursuits of art and music. The creative impulse explains the constant change in fashion, technology and food in modern society. People use creative endeavors like art and literature to distinguish themselves within their social group. They also use their creativity to make money and persuade others of the value of their ideas.

Religion and Spirituality

Another important aspect of human behavior is religion and spirituality. According to a Pew Research Center report, 54% of adults around the world state that religion is very important in their lives.[3] Religion plays a large role in the lives of many people around the world, and it affects their behavior towards others.[4]. For example, one of the five pillars of Islam is Zakat. This is the practice whereby Muslims who can afford to are required to donate 2.5% of their wealth to those in need.[5] Many religious people regularly attend services with other members of their religion. They may take part in religious rituals, and festivals like Diwali and Easter.


An attitude is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing, or event;[6] 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 different attitudes do not interact, the fact is 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 behaves depends a lot on how they look at the situation and what they expect to gain from it.[7]

Weather and Climate

The weather and the climate have a significant influence on human behavior. The average temperature of a country affects its traditions and people's everyday routines. For example, Spain used to be a primarily agrarian country, with much of its labour force working in the fields. Spaniards developed the tradition of the siesta, an after lunch nap, to cope with the intense midday heat. The siesta persists despite the increased use of air conditioning, and the move from farming to office jobs. However, it is less common today than in the past.[8] Norway is a northern country with cold average temperatures and short hours of daylight in winter. This has shaped its lunchtime habits. Norwegians have a fixed half an hour lunch break. This enables them to go home earlier, with many leaving work at three o'clock in the afternoon. This allows them to make the most of the remaining daylight.[9] There is a correlation between higher temperatures and increased levels of violent crime. There are number of theories for why this is. One theory is that people are more inclined to go outside during warmer weather, and this increases the number of opportunities for criminals. Another is that high temperatures cause a physiological response that increases people's irritability, and therefore their likeliness to escalate perceived slights into violence.[10][11] There is some research detailing that changes in the weather can affect the behavior of children.[12]

See also


  1. Argyle, Michael; Lu, Luo (1990). "The happiness of extraverts". Personality and Individual Differences. 11 (10): 1011–7. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(90)90128-E.
  2. Anholt, Robert R.H.; McKay, Trudy F.C. (2010). Principles of behavioral genetics. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-372575-2. Lay summary. Plomin, Robert; DeFries, John C.; Knopik, Valerie S.; Neiderhiser, Jenae M. (24 September 2012). Behavioral Genetics. Shaun Purcell (Appendix: Statistical Methods in Behaviorial Genetics). Worth Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4292-4215-8. Retrieved 4 September 2013. Lay summary (4 September 2013).
  3. "'How religious commitment varies by country among people of all ages". Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
  4. Spilka, B., & McIntosh, D.N. (1996). The psychology of religion. Westview Press
  5. Noor, Zainulbahar; Pickup, Francine (2017). "Zakat requires Muslims to donate 2.5% of their wealth: could this end poverty?". The Guardian.
  6. 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), 480–86. ProQuest 60622726. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) (registration required)
  7. Kechmanovic, D. (1969). "The paranoid attitude as the common form of social behavior. Sociologija, 11(4), 573–85". ProQuest 60877639. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)7 (registration required)
  8. Yardley, Jim (2014). "Spain, Land of 10 P.M. Dinners, Asks if It's Time to Reset Clock". The New York Times.
  9. Gorvett, Zaria (2019). "The Norwegian art of the packed lunch". BBC News.
  10. "Heatwave: Is there more crime in hot weather?". BBC News. 2018.
  11. Rath, Arun (2018). "Heat And Aggression: How Hot Weather Makes It Easy For Us To Offend". WGBH.
  12. Dabb, C (May 1997). The relationship between weather and children's behavior: a study of teacher perceptions. USU Thesis.
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