Factors Affecting Behaviour

Update: Dr Robert Sapolsky has done a TED talk which puts these factors of human behaviour into great context, focused around the timeframes with which they have an effect. Check it out

Below is an edited comment of what I posted to http://tacsi.org.au/family-by-family-prototype-week-1/
For the last few years I’ve had an active interest in Human Behaviour.
I’ve spent hundreds of hours hours reading books, watching recorded uni lectures (in psychology, neuro-biology and the like), some awesome TED talks, audiobooks, white papers, general social analysis and lots of conversations. From all of that I’ve noticed there are a range of factors affecting peoples behaviour.
In approximate order they are :
  1. Situation [Role] – The current situation the person is in. e.g being in a prison vs being at an office, a pool party or walking past a house on fire. Special mention should be given to ‘normal’ social situations and crisis situations.
  2. Environment [Resources] – Beyond just the situation, this is what resources someone has access to, e.g if you can already hear the fire fighters sirens, if it is dark and the guards aren’t looking, or if there are nice windows with trees to look out at when stressed.
  3. Habits [Triggered/Automatic Responses] – Habits are usually those things which you do without really thinking about anymore. BJ Fogg lists this as the BluePath, doing a familiar behaviour from now on. An example might be brushing your teeth before you go to bed. At some point you had to learn the habit, but now you do the behaviour almost instinctively.
  4. History [Knowledge and experience] – How/Have you been trained to deal with the situation? Have you been in a similar situation, what did you do and did it work?
  5. Perspective [Time, Beliefs] – What is your Time Perspective (past positive/negative, present headonistic, deterministic, future oriented, afterlife). What is your religious and moral beliefs. Do you align yourself to an emo, punk, hippy, military or some other stereotype? This is very similar to the cultural expectations, but regarding the specific sub-group to the general culture.
  6. Culture [Expectations] – What the general expectations are for a person in that situation and environment. If your sub-group hasn’t specified what it’s stance is, then what is generally considered morally justified? Stopping CPR on the random homeless guy on the street after 4mins might be seen as fine, whilst stopping CPR after 20mins on a child who’s drowned in a pool might cause outrage.
  7. Emotions [Mood] – Was the person happy or sad at the time?
  8. Hormones [Emotional propensity] – If you are a teenage male you are likely to have a surge in testosterone which will amplify the likelyhood of aggression (assuming the situation is one that involves violence or aggression). This can be thought of as shortening the ‘fuse’ so to speak. Pregnant women can be particularly susceptible to stress and may become even more irritable due to lack of food than normal… Drugs can also have a similar although usually more profound but short lived effect.
  9. Pre-natal [How birth affected you] – Humans are far more susceptible to conditioning during birth than most people realise. When your mother was pregnant with you, if she was heavily stressed then it can have negative consequences. If she was obese then you are more likely to be obese { http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNjlcGikW_0 }. A child after birth also needs the right amount of care and attention. They need to be held and touched and talked to.
  10. Genetics [Physical propensity] – There is barely a 0.5% difference in genetic material between humans and we are only 4-6% genetically different from apes. Our DNA is 90% similar to cats. Given such similarity it is generally said that genetics can cause a propensity for a particular behaviour or physical attribute, but it is the environment which which has the most impact. { http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=25335 }

Different circumstances will mean the resulting behaviour is influenced by the factors above in differing amounts. Whilst normally the situation and environment will be the most influential  a strong enough culture and belief can over-ride that. If you want to change peoples behaviour you need to work out which are the most important factors involved or which other factors can over-ride those and you can try to change or at least deal with them.

An example is the selfish-gene concept. That humans are simply a mechanism by which genes can make a copy of themselves. Whilst this may be the default behaviour of people it is not the absolute only factor which affects our behaviour. Another important thing to note is that the concept of our ‘kin’ or family is very important in many cases. Who are people that we should help and be around, versus those that are against us. Our understanding of kin has grown larger over time, from immediate family to village, group (e.g religious group or work colleges) to nations and at the present rate will soon encompass the world. Doing so helps reduce the violence within our species. We will likely need to expand kin to include other animals and should we meet friendly alien entities it may have to include even them.

I do have a question. Are morals another factor which affect behaviour? Or are they a product of a combination of the above factors?

For a quick overview of social thinking, including the Stanford Prison Experiment, check out the video below :

If you enjoyed the above then some resources that may be of interest include :

More in depth resources :

Name : Human Behavioral Biology by Dr Robert Sapolsky.

There’s plenty of other resources. If would like like more please comment below or email michael@zeitgeist-info.com

NB : Added Habits above History. Because habits can be done without thinking they are more than just memory recall they almost like muscle memory.. if you could call it that. – 7th Jan 2012

Note : Knowing that there is a different way of doing something and changing peoples values and mindset is one of the most important but usually hardest steps when moving forward.

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    • Grant
    • February 12th, 2011

    Just watched first 10 mins of The Lucifer effect & IMHO it’s a load of crap, if this is the best that MIT can do then we’re all in trouble, the entire premise is based on someone consciously doing an evil thing, without considering how easy it is for soldiers to view humans who they are trained to kill as much less than human, the perpetrators had collectively simply disassociated their victims from any link to being sentient beings. Is this Evil or something else ?
    I think religious people should keep out of Social Philosophy/Psychology, history tells us they’re crap at it.

    • Hi Grant,
      I think you should watch the rest of the video. Professor Philip Zimbardo goes on to explain that the main cause of the problem with the Abu Gharib prison wasn’t a few bad apples (prison wardens) but a bad barrel (the situation). He explains how that situation was created by those in the top rungs of power (bad barrel makers). As such it includes what your comment talks about, the military officers training was to see the prisoners as less than human, as animals. They also had no training to deal with the situation they were in.
      Dr Zimbardo was talking as a scientist, not a religious person (I don’t actually know his views on religion, they aren’t relevant to the evidence and topic).

      I think you might like ‘The Biology of Human Behaviour’ by Dr Robert Sapolsky. It’s 12 hours long, but goes into amazing detail about human behaviour, from how neurons work to how a group of apes were able to change from an an aggressive alpha male dominated social structure to an almost violent free, more feminine based structure in only a generation.
      URL : http://www.archive.org/details/RobertSapolsky-BiologyAndHumanBehavior (Free Archive.org version)
      URL : http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=1597 (USD$254.95 Teach12 version)

    • March 30th, 2011

    it will be greater if social factors are discussed here for which information behaviour may dependent

    • Jas
    • April 2nd, 2011

    What about the well documented, intentional manipulation of thought and behaviour by societal designers/religions? Public relations people like Edward Bernays, nephew of Freud, Hollywood, Murdoch, Bilderberg Group, Bill Gates, Public school systems, the psychological industrial complex; those who omit, distort or fabricate information for specific thought and behavioural outcomes. This phenomena could potentially account for the first 6 of your factors in a given behaviour. Methods for the preservation and abuses of power in hierarchical societies. This acknowledgment reminds me of something Alan Watt said in the June 22, 2010 Alex Jones interview:

    “What you’ve got is an institutionalized sadomasochistic society. And this is well proven with scientific studies on dictators, and all those who follow and obey the dictators. At the Nuremberg trial for instance, they found out that all of the officers immediately around Adolf Hitler still adored him, up until their deaths. They thought he was a god, pretty well.”

  1. basically im stuck on my health and social and really donnay now what to do?

    • диети за отслабване
    • August 23rd, 2014
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