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. (registration required)
  7. ^ Kechmanovic, D. (1969). "The paranoid attitude as the common form of social behavior. Sociologija, 11(4), 573–85".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.

External links

Attention seeking

Attention seeking behavior is to act in a way that is likely to elicit attention, usually to elicit validation from others. People are thought to engage in both positive and negative attention seeking behavior independent of the actual benefit or harm to health. Most behavior that is motivated by attention seeking is considered to be driven by self-consciousness and thus an externalization of personality rather than internal and self-motivated behavior. This type of influence on behavior can result in a potential loss of a person's sense of agency, personality disorder and the behavior associated with these conditions.Enjoying the attention of others is socially acceptable in some situations. In some instances, however, the need for attention can lead to new difficulties and may highlight underlying, preexisting ones. However, as a tactical method, it is often used in combat, theatre (upstaging) and it is fundamental to marketing. One strategy used to counter various types of attention-seeking behavior is planned ignoring.

Behavioral modernity

Behavioral modernity is a suite of behavioral and cognitive traits that distinguishes current Homo sapiens from other anatomically modern humans, hominins, and primates. Although often debated, most scholars agree that modern human behavior can be characterized by abstract thinking, planning depth, symbolic behavior (e.g., art, ornamentation), music and dance, exploitation of large game, and blade technology, among others. Underlying these behaviors and technological innovations are cognitive and cultural foundations that have been documented experimentally and ethnographically. Some of these human universal patterns are cumulative cultural adaptation, social norms, language, and extensive help and cooperation beyond close kin. It has been argued that the development of these modern behavioral traits, in combination with the climatic conditions of the Last Glacial Maximum, was largely responsible for the human replacement of Neanderthals and the other species of humans of the rest of the world.Arising from differences in the archaeological record, a debate continues as to whether anatomically modern humans were behaviorally modern as well. There are many theories on the evolution of behavioral modernity. These generally fall into two camps: gradualist and cognitive approaches. The Later Upper Paleolithic Model refers to the theory that modern human behavior arose through cognitive, genetic changes abruptly around 40,000–50,000 years ago. Other models focus on how modern human behavior may have arisen through gradual steps; the archaeological signatures of such behavior only appearing through demographic or subsistence-based changes.

Eccentricity (behavior)

Eccentricity (also called quirkiness) is unusual or odd behavior on the part of an individual. This behavior would typically be perceived as unusual or unnecessary, without being demonstrably maladaptive. Eccentricity is contrasted with normal behavior, the nearly universal means by which individuals in society solve given problems and pursue certain priorities in everyday life. People who consistently display benignly eccentric behavior are labeled as "eccentrics".

Evolution and Human Behavior

Evolution and Human Behavior is a peer-reviewed academic journal covering research in which evolutionary perspectives are brought to bear on the study of human behavior. It is primarily a scientific journal, but articles from scholars in the humanities are also published. Papers reporting on theoretical and empirical work on other species may be included if their relevance to the human animal is apparent. The journal is published by Elsevier on behalf of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

Evolutionary psychology

Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach in the social and natural sciences that examines psychological structure from a modern evolutionary perspective. It seeks to identify which human psychological traits are evolved adaptations – that is, the functional products of natural selection or sexual selection in human evolution. Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Some evolutionary psychologists apply the same thinking to psychology, arguing that the modularity of mind is similar to that of the body and with different modular adaptations serving different functions. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments.Evolutionary psychology is not simply a subdiscipline of psychology but its evolutionary theory can provide a foundational, metatheoretical framework that integrates the entire field of psychology in the same way evolutionary biology has for biology.Evolutionary psychologists hold that behaviors or traits that occur universally in all cultures are good candidates for evolutionary adaptations including the abilities to infer others' emotions, discern kin from non-kin, identify and prefer healthier mates, and cooperate with others. There have been studies of human social behaviour related to infanticide, intelligence, marriage patterns, promiscuity, perception of beauty, bride price, and parental investment, with impressive findings.The theories and findings of evolutionary psychology have applications in many fields, including economics, environment, health, law, management, psychiatry, politics, and literature.

Criticism of evolutionary psychology involves questions of testability, cognitive and evolutionary assumptions (such as modular functioning of the brain, and large uncertainty about the ancestral environment), importance of non-genetic and non-adaptive explanations, as well as political and ethical issues due to interpretations of research results.

Hanlon's razor

Hanlon's razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways, including:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."An eponymous law, probably named after a Robert J. Hanlon, it is a philosophical razor which suggests a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for human behavior.

Human Behavior and Evolution Society

The Human Behavior and Evolution Society, or HBES, is an interdisciplinary, international society of researchers, primarily from the social and biological sciences, who use modern evolutionary theory to help to discover human nature — including evolved emotional, cognitive and sexual adaptations. It was founded on October 29, 1988 at the University of Michigan.The official academic journal of the society is Evolution and Human Behavior, and the society has held annual conferences since 1989. As of 2015, the president is anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan of the University of Utah. Past-president include biologist Randy Thornhill of the University of New Mexico and Mark Flinn of the University of Missouri. The president-elect is psychologist Robert Kurzban of the University of Pennsylvania.

The membership in broadly international, and consists of scholars from many fields, such as psychology, anthropology, medicine, law, philosophy, biology, economics and sociology. Despite the diversity, HBES members "all speak the common language of Darwinism."

Margo Wilson

Margo Wilson (1942 – 2009) was a Canadian professor of psychology.

Martin Daly (professor)

Martin Daly is a Professor of Psychology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and author of many influential papers on evolutionary psychology. His current research topics include an evolutionary perspective on risk-taking and interpersonal violence, especially male-male conflict and family violence. He and his wife, the late Margo Wilson, were the former editors-in-chief of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior and former presidents of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society.

He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1998.Daly is one of the main researchers of the Cinderella effect, and has been interviewed in the press about it.


Misanthropy is the general hatred, dislike, distrust or contempt of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word's origin is from the Greek words μῖσος (misos, "hatred") and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, "man, human"). The condition is often confused with asociality.

Obedience (human behavior)

Obedience, in human behavior, is a form of "social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure". Obedience is generally distinguished from compliance, which is behavior influenced by peers, and from conformity, which is behavior intended to match that of the majority. Depending on context, obedience can be seen as moral, immoral, or amoral.

Humans have been shown to be obedient in the presence of perceived legitimate authority figures, as shown by the Milgram experiment in the 1960s, which was carried out by Stanley Milgram to find out how the Nazis managed to get ordinary people to take part in the mass murders of the Holocaust. The experiment showed that obedience to authority was the norm, not the exception. Regarding obedience, Milgram said that "Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the man dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, through defiance or submission, to the commands of others." A similar conclusion was reached in the Stanford prison experiment.


Obfuscation is the obscuring of the intended meaning of communication by making the message difficult to understand, usually with confusing and ambiguous language. The obfuscation might be either unintentional or intentional (although intent usually is connoted), and is accomplished with circumlocution (talking around the subject), the use of jargon (technical language of a profession), and the use of an argot (ingroup language) of limited communicative value to outsiders.In expository writing, unintentional obfuscation usually occurs in draft documents, at the beginning of composition; such obfuscation is illuminated with critical thinking and editorial revision, either by the writer or by an editor. Etymologically, the word obfuscation derives from the Latin obfuscatio, from obfuscāre (to darken); synonyms include the words beclouding and abstrusity.


A pedant is a person who is excessively concerned with formalism, accuracy, and precision, or one who makes an ostentatious and arrogant show of learning.

Pet peeve

A pet peeve, pet aversion, or pet hate is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly irritating to them, to a greater degree than would be expected based on the experience of others. The phrase analogizes that feeling of annoyance as a pet animal that one does not wish to give up, despite its objective lack of importance.

Religious behaviour

Religious behaviours are behaviours motivated by religious beliefs. Religious actions are also called 'ritual' and religious avoidances are called taboos or ritual prohibitions.


Role-playing is the changing of one's behaviour to assume a role, either unconsciously to fill a social role, or consciously to act out an adopted role. While the Oxford English Dictionary offers a definition of role-playing as "the changing of one's behaviour to fulfill a social role", in the field of psychology, the term is used more loosely in four senses:

To refer to the playing of roles generally such as in a theatre, or educational setting;

To refer to taking a role of an existing character or person and acting it out with a partner taking someone else's role, often involving different genres of practice;

To refer to a wide range of games including role-playing video game (RPG), play-by-mail games and more;

To refer specifically to role-playing games.

Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is a research institute of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). It includes a number of centers, including the "Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics", which uses DNA sequencing, gene expression studies, bioinformatics, and the genetic manipulation of model organisms to understand brain and behavioral phenotypes.

Victim playing

Victim playing (also known as playing the victim, victim card, or self-victimization) is the fabrication of victimhood for a variety of reasons such as to justify abuse of others, to manipulate others, a coping strategy, or attention seeking.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.