Behaviour has been a phenomenon studiedextensively by many and can be defined in numerous ways, some very general andvague. However, as scientists, precise definitions are needed to suitablyunderstand issues to be able to apply and measure them effectively. Behaviour canbe viewed not only as actions we see, but also as what we failed to see.Behaviour can also be voluntary or involuntary and is influenced by bothinternal or external factors. Starr and Taggart published a definition forbehaviour in 1992, ‘A response to external and internal stimuli, followingintegration of sensory, neural, endocrine, and effector components.
Behaviourhas a genetic basis, hence is subject to natural selection, and it commonly canbe modified through experience’ (Levitis, Lidickerand Freund, 2009). This definition indicates the complexity of behaviour andthe combination of various factors that produce it. In response to MarvinBowe’s statement, this essay will aim to discuss and deliberate whether peopleshould be judged on their performance or internal factors, by focusing on whatcan be understood both through examining behaviour independently and comparingit to what can be understood from internal factors. I think people should bejudged on a range of different things as behaviour can be affected by variousfactors and are not always consistent.Personality is ‘the dynamic organisation withinthe individual of those psychophysical systems that determine hischaracteristics behaviour and though'(Simplypsychology.
org,2018). Personality is unique for each individual as it reflects the experiencesand environment a person has developed within. The idiographic approach topersonality focuses on the uniqueness of individuals as it assumes each personhas a unique personality structure.
On the other hand, the nomothetic approachstates ‘we all have a number of traits in common, and we differ only in theamount of each trait we posses’ (Sagepub.com, 2008). It concentrates on howindividuals can be compared because it assumes that different personalitytraits mean the same thing for everyone, so individuals can be placed withinpersonality variables.Caspi et al 2003 conducted a longitudinal studyto investigate whether children’s behavioural styles are linked to theirpersonality as adults. They tested the temperament types of over one thousandthree-year olds through observation and rated them on 22 behaviouralcharacteristics. They were then able to recognise five types of children: thewell-adjusted who could have self-control when needed, didn’t become upset innew situations and were sufficiently confident. The under controlled children’were impulsive, restless, negativistic, distractible, and labile in theiremotional responses’. The confident type quickly adjusted in different situationsand were eager to explore the testing material, were not concerned about thelocation of their caregiver and were slightly impulsive and very friendly.
Theinhibited children ‘were socially reticent, fearful, and easily upset by theexaminer’ and the last category of ‘reserved children’ were timid anduncomfortable about being tested but their shyness and caution was not extremeand so the task was not affected. When the participants were 26 they hadseveral interviews and examinations, they completed the MultidimensionalPersonality Questionnaire which gave a profile of 10 distinct personalitytraits that reflect three super factors of personality. The study demonstratedthat personality is established as a child and doesn’t change; therefore, itwould make sense to judge a person on their personality as it reflects who theyare. This provides empirical support of personality being a good indication ofa person, in the study the scales were correlated with informant reports whichfurther confirmed that they were accurate representations.Personality and personality traits can help tounderstand behaviour which allows behaviour to be predicted. Ulleberg andRundmo (2003) aimed to examine how important personality traits are ininfluencing risk related behaviour in drivers.
They carried out aself-completion questionnaire survey on adolescents in Norway. The participantswere tested on personality traits that have a significant relationship withrisk taking behaviour in traffic such as sensation taking. Their riskperception was also tested by two 1-7 scales, an attitude scale measured theirrisk-taking attitudes related to driving and three behavioural scales were usedas a self-report measure. The personality traits were significantly correlatedto the participants perceptions of risk for example ‘Altruisticand anxious individuals tended to perceive the risk related to trafficaccidents as high, as well as having a positive attitude towards trafficsafety’. The results indicate that personality influences behaviour throughaffecting the behaviour’s attitude factors and personality traits have anindirect effect on behaviour. Therefore, as the nomothetic approach statesdepending on the group of personality traits an individual can be placed intheir behaviours can be predicted.
On the other hand, it is credible to judge a personbased on their behaviour alone as behaviour can be observed then describedbecause it can be measured objectively unlike personality. Behaviour initiatesperformance as it is what you do in comparison to personality being who you are.Personality may influence behaviour, but behaviour is the action taken insituations. In certain circumstances performance must be judged alone forexample in sportspeople and other professions that have clear criteria on beingsuccessful or failing because there are specific things that are necessary todo the job effectively.
For example, in medicine doctors must be judged on thebasis of their performance this includes assessing mortality rates, readmissionof patients, the quality of the information on discharge forms which reflect thequality of care and the length of stay (Nguyen et al., 2014). Therefore, to besuccessful in the role, we need to know the behaviour that is required by therole, thus personality in this context will have no benefit in understandingthe behaviour.Examining behaviour by itself however isinadequate, the Social Learning theory proposed by Bandura states theenvironment has a role in influencing the behaviour produced due to the processof observational learning.
Bandura et al 1963 carried out a lab experiment toinvestigate if aggressive behaviour was reinforced through observing aggressivebehaviour. 72 children aged three to five were split into three conditions, twoof the groups had a role model and the third was a control group. They werethen further split into gender groups to match the gender of their role models.The children observed their models in a room with various toys including a Bobodoll, after they went into the room. Those that had witnessed their modelsbeing aggressive resembled the behaviour by producing a significant amount ofphysical and verbal aggressive behaviour, the non-aggressive group did notproduce aggressive behaviour towards the doll.
The boys imitated morephysically aggressive behaviour than girls imitating their male models. Thisillustrates the aggressive behaviour was learned through observation and cannotbe used as an accurate way to judge a person as the performance of the childrenis not related to them as individuals whereas studying their personality mayprovide better insight into who they are.Likewise, the deindividuation theory providesfurther evidence as to why behaviour itself cannot be used as judgement of anindividual. The theory states the presence and size of a group can cause socialarousal and physical anonymity in a person resulting in their self-awarenessdecreasing. Their normal inhibitions which would be an accurate representationof them is lost and replaced with them becoming increasingly responsive tosituational cues, so they pay more attention to external factors over internalfactors. Deindividuation can be caused by a large group size, not beingresponsible for their behaviour, how anonymous the individual is and a strongcollective identity. Zimbardo et al., 1973 carried out a prison experiment thataimed to test how willingly people would conform to the roles they were given.
He was interested in whether the brutality inflicted by prison guards was dueto the personalities of the guards (dispositional) or the prison environment(situational). Participants were male college students who were screened forpsychological normality then randomly assigned to be a guard or prisoner. Theyensured the simulation was kept as close to real life as possible; prisonerswere treated like normal criminals, by being arrested in their homes, taken tothe police station, fingerprinted, photographed and booked.
They werede-individuated as soon as they got to the prison, prisoners were given prisonclothes bedding and a number they would be referred by and the guards weregiven a uniform, whistles, handcuffs, dark reflective glasses making eyecontacts impossible. Participants were then observed, both prisoners and guardssettled into their roles then the guards started to harass the prisonersbehaving brutally and sadistically. The participants behaved in ways theynormally wouldn’t because they had lost their self-identity and had becometheir roles. At that end of the study when Zimbardo told a participant who theywere they became themselves again.’ “you are not #819. You are his name,and my name is Dr. Zimbardo.
I am a psychologist…
this is not a real prison.This is just an experiment” He stopped crying suddenly, looked up andreplied, “Okay, let’s go, “as if nothing had been wrong.’ (McLeod, 2017). This reveals theinaccurate representation the behaviour provides as all the behaviour wascaused by conforming to the social roles. The study highlights that it would benaïve judging the behaviour alone as humans have a ‘good/evil’ dichotomy whichemphasizes the influence of dispositional factors on behaviour.Similarly, stereotypes have been recognised as influencingbehaviour.
Stereotype threat ‘is defined as a situational predicament in whichindividuals are at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group’ (Inzlichtand Schmader, 2011). The stereotypes are usually social perceptions ofindividuals who belong to a certain group or have certain physicalcharacteristics. Steele and Aronson (1995) examined the role and effect of thestereotypes on intellectual test performance of African Americans. In the firststudy, black and white college students were given a 30-minute test and in onecondition they were told the test was testing intellectual ability whichhighlighted the racial stereotype of the black participants’ ability. In theother condition participants were told it was a problem-solving task to makethe stereotype irrelevant to participants. They found that the blackparticipants performed worse than the white participants when test was said tobe measuring ability but performed drastically better and matching theperformance of the white participants when the test was presented as problemsolving. These results illustrate the unreliability of performance asparticipants were able to dramatically improve on the same test by not knowingabout the stereotype.
In this situation it would be unfair to judge the peoplein the first condition by their performance as it does not realisticallyreflect their ability. If a person is judged on their performance severalfactors should be taken into consideration: if the negative performance isexpected in the setting, if the person is the only representative of thestereotyped group because this can create pressure on the person as they feelresponsibility for their whole group and whether they are performing in frontof people who believe in the stereotype for example if they are racist orsexist. These factors may lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy.When attempting to understand behaviour, thebehaviour itself can be examined or the internal factors can be taken intoconsideration to understand the behaviour better.
In relation to Bowe’sstatement, the above findings suggest that a person cannot be judged onbehaviour alone or their internal factors alone. Personality is studied tounderstand the individual differences between people therefore when people arejudged I believe a range of factors should be considered to achieve a holisticunderstanding of the person. Behaviour is a complicated phenomenon therefore performancecan be attributed to personality which is determined as a child, socialinfluences which may or may not reflect the values of the individual, or both.