Behavior is normally understood as the way in which a living being responds to stimuli in its environment , whether it does so consciously or unconsciously, voluntarily or involuntarily, proportionately or not.
In everyday speech, this term usually implies a more or less permanent or defining condition, that is, an individual has a certain behavior or way of behaving, and we usually expect it to always be more or less in the same way.
However, behavior is actually influenced by various mediate or immediate factors, of the genetic, social, cultural, psychological, economic and affective order.
Depending on the specific perspective from which behavior is studied or analyzed, we will have more or less specialized definitions of it, coming from psychology , statistics, politics , biology , etc.
In each case, an attempt is made to understand the set of evident behavior patterns of individuals, as a way of understanding their motivations , their desires, their characteristics.
Characteristics of behavior
The behavior refers, basically, to any action that is carried out in the world. Here are some of its main features:
- It is observable.
- It is an action and/or reaction to external or internal stimuli.
- There may be an orientation or pattern that is followed.
- It is influenced by the genetic makeup of an organism and by experience.
- It can be modified.
- It is possible to measure it.
The behavior is generally observable and it is estimated that it is related to the attitude that living beings take (or that motivates them) towards a pattern or orientation, causing them to act in a certain way. This takes into account an internal element of the subjects that controls their actions in the outside world.
That is, there may be a motivation behind an individual’s actions when faced with a stimulus . This means that behavior can be motivated by a purpose or objective.
Likewise, considering the internal motivations of a subject, behavior is also related to the way in which a person faces a context according to pre-established parameters.
For example, when talking about the actions that are accepted or must be followed in the classroom, we are talking about school conduct.
In this way, the behavior acquires an active sense, in which the subject demonstrates in his behavior a way of being when interacting with the environment in which he finds himself, be it social or natural.
However, the behavior is not only expressed in the observable actions carried out by a living being or organism, but also through the conduct or covert behavior (unobservable actions).
This covert behavior is only transmittable through a deep observation made by another person or if the subject communicates it.
The behavior is influenced by the genetic inheritance of the living being and the interaction that it has with the outside world and the internal changes. This means that, even though it is inherited, it can be modified (for example, through learning).
As the conduct or behavior is observable and translates into specific actions of a subject, it is measurable (it can be quantified and studied).
types of behavior
According to certain theories of social psychology, there are four different types of behavior, whose initials make up the mnemonic word “disc” (in English ). These are:
- Dominant. Typical of people who often take the initiative, who know what they want and where they want to go. They assume active roles, sometimes even aggressive, oriented more towards results and towards the “what”, than towards the “how”.
- Influential. Behavior very focused on interpersonal relationships , for which the concepts of empathy , openness and influence are central. Influential people easily build connections and can demonstrate great leadership skills , so they tend to surround themselves with people and be very “popular.”
- Stable. A type of calm, peaceful behavior that attaches great importance to their own safety and therefore tends to play a passive role in most situations. They can seem shy, insecure, and focus much more on the “how” than the “what”.
- compliant. Perfectionist behavior, with enormous capacity to contemplate details, typical of observant, methodical and analytical people, who can be perceived as “cold” by others, since they are not usually guided by their internal or emotional life.
Ethology is the discipline that studies the behavior of animals . It is a branch of biology and experimental psychology, which tries to perceive the behavioral changes of living beings in their habitats or in different environments.
Difference between behavior and conduct
Behavior refers to the reactions that a living being has depending on the environment or space in which it is found, and can be influenced by both organic aspects and the elements around it. For this reason, behavior occurs in social life, where there is an affective disposition prior to acting.
For its part, behavior is composed of a series of cognitive reactions that vary according to previous knowledge or experiences. The most primordial form of behavior is the reflexes, which are generated for survival.
For example, the interaction of a child in a space implies a behavior and this is established as behavior when it creates a series of constant and repetitive patterns.
Depending on the approach used, the terms behavior and conduct may or may not be synonymous . In principle, the word “conduct” comes from the Latin con- (“along with”) and ducere (“to guide”). So, in its original sense, it implies that individuals act motivated or guided by something punctual, internal or external, that takes place at the moment.
“Behavior” is a word used in biology, which tried to understand how animals thought, and then borrowed from psychology.
On the other hand, when thinking about behavior, the totality of the individual’s behaviors is usually covered, that is, it is a much more general concept, which covers the observable aspects of the individual’s way of acting (again, his behavior), and those non-observable aspects, such as mental or emotional ones.