Here is an essay on ‘Human Behaviour’ for class 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Human Behaviour’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Human Behaviour
- Essay on the Introduction to Human Behaviour
- Essay on the Research of Human Behaviour
- Essay on the Uniqueness of Human Behaviour
- Essay on the Measurement of Human Behaviour
- Essay on the Controversies in the Study of Human Behaviour
1. Essay on the Introduction to Human Behaviour:
After all, Homo sapiens has a science all its own, namely anthropology, and the other “social sciences” are almost exclusively concerned with this one species too. Nevertheless, many animal behaviour researchers, undaunted by all these specialists, have made Homo sapiens one of their study species, a choice justified by the fact that theories and methods developed by students of nonhuman animals can often illuminate human affairs in ways that escape scientists whose training and focus is exclusively anthropocentric.
The continuity of anatomy, physiology, brain, and human behaviour between people and other animals clearly implies that nonhuman research can shed light on human nature. Medical researchers rely on this continuity, using “animal models” whenever human research would be premature, too intrusive, or too risky. The same is true in basic behavioural research.
Consider, for example, the study of hormonal influences on human behaviour. The “activating” effects of circulating steroid hormones on sexual motivation aggression, persistence, and other behavioural phenomena were first established in other species and only then investigated in human beings.
Similarly, non-human research on the “organizing” (developmental) effects of these same gonadal hormones has motivated and guided human research on the behavioural consequences of endocrine disorders. In a more recent example, discoveries concerning the role of androgens in mediating tradeoffs between mating effort and male parental effort in animals with biparental care have inspired studies of the same phenomena in human fathers.
The situation is similar, but much more richly developed, in behavioural neuroscience, where virtually everything now known about the human brain was discovered with crucial inspiration and support from experimental research on homologous structures and processes that serve similar perceptual and cognitive functions in other species.
The fact that Homo sapiens is a member of the animal kingdom also means that it is both possible and enlightening to include our species in comparative analysis. A famous example is the association between testis size and mating systems. If a female mates polyandrously, i.e., with more than one male, and if she does so within a sufficiently short interval, then the different males ejaculates must “compete” for the paternity of her offspring.
Thus, although human testes are smaller than those of the most promiscuous primates, they are nevertheless larger than would be expected under monogamy; this observation has substantially bolstered the notion that ancestral women were not strictly monogamous in their sexual behaviour and hence that selection may have equipped the human female with facultative inclinations to cuckold their primary partners by clandestine adultery, or maintain multiple simultaneous sexual relationships, or both.
These ideas, which run contrary to the previous notion that only males would be expected to possess adaptive tendencies to mate polygamously, have had substantial impact on recent research into women’s sexuality.
2. Essay on the Research of Human Behaviour:
Getting involved in human research appears to be an occupational hazard for animal behaviour researchers. In his 1973 Nobel Prize autobiography, Niko Tinbergen revealed that he had long harbored a “dormant desire to make ethology apply its methods to human behaviour,” a desire that he acted upon, late in his research career, by studying autistic children.
Others made the move earlier in their careers, with greater impact. The British ethologist Nicholas Blurton Jones, one of the founders of “human ethology” and now a major figure in hunter-gatherer studies, did his PhD work on threat displays in the great tit (Parus major) but then began almost immediately to study human children.
He writes: “I studied at Oxford with Niko Tinbergen [who] shared the Nobel Prize with Konrad Lorenz for their demonstration that human behaviour should be studied in the same way as any other feature of an animal – as a product of evolution by natural selection.”
Just as they had done in their studies of other animals, Blurton Jones, Eibl-Eibesfeldt, and others who had begun to call their field of research human ethology initially concentrated on categorizing overt motor patterns and counting how often each behavioural act was executed.
Indeed, other scientists without animal behaviour training were coming to similar views about the need for a more objective observational approach at about this time, and a few even turned to Darwin for inspiration. An interesting example is the work of Paul Ekman, an American psychologist who traveled to highland New Guinea and other remote places to prove that facial expressions of emotion and their interpretations by observers is cross- culturally universal rather than exhibiting arbitrary cultural variation from place to place, as many anthropologists had supposed.
This research program was akin to that of Eibl- Eibesfeldt in its questions, its theoretical foundations, and its results, but perhaps because Ekman was trained in psychology, he was less reluctant than the ethologist to use elicited verbal data as his test of universality.
Of course, one might say that the classical ethological approach has withered in nonhuman research too, with the ascendancy of behavioural ecology, but the hallmark of classical ethology, namely observational study of human behaviour in its natural context, has not been forsaken.
3. Essay on the Uniqueness of Human Behaviour:
Another reason why treating human beings as “just another animal” can be problematic is that in many ways we are very exceptional animals indeed. Although other creatures can learn from conspecifics and may even have local traditions, human cultural transmission and the diversity of practices that it has engendered are unique, and how we should approach the study of human behaviour from an evolutionary adaptationist perspective is therefore controversial.
One approach to the issue of cultural diversity is to attempt to make sense of the distinct practices of people in different parts of the world as representing facultative adaptation to the diversity in local ecological circumstances.
A nice example is provided by demonstrations that cross- cultural variation in the use of spices is partly to be understood as response to variation in local and foodstuff- specific rates at which unrefrigerated foods spoil and in the antimicrobial effectiveness of particular spices.
Presumably, such cultural adaptations are usually the product of an “evolutionary” process that does not entail cumulative change in gene pools but only in socially transmitted information and practices, although there are certainly some cases in which there has been gene-culture coevolution. The best-known example of the coevolution of human genes and human culture concerns the variable prevalence of genes that permit people to digest milk and milk products beyond early childhood.
In populations that lack dairying traditions, most adults are lactose-intolerant and suffer indigestion if they drink milk, because they no longer produce lactase, the enzyme that permits us to metabolize lactose. But in populations with a long history of dairying, genotypes that engender persistent lactase production into adulthood predominate, apparently as a result of natural selection favouring those able to derive nutrition from their herds.
Enlightening as such approaches may be, however, they can never make functional sense of every particular cultural phenomenon, for it is certain that a great deal of cultural variability is functionally arbitrary in its details, and at least a few culturally prescribed practices have disastrous fitness consequences.
A famous example, of such a disastrous cultural practice is the transmission of kuru, a fatal prion- induced brain disease akin to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, among the Fore people of highland New Guinea. Like other prion-induced diseases, kuru is not easily transmitted under most circumstances, but as a result of funerary practices that included intimate handling of corpses and ritual cannibalism of parts of deceased kinsmen, the Fore suffered an epidemic resulting in high levels of mortality.
4. Essay on the Measurement of Human Behaviour
It is true that over the decades psychology has moved towards becoming a quantitative science which tries to introduce measurements with precision and accuracy comparable to measurements in exact sciences such as physics, chemistry, etc. There is no doubt that the acceptance of model of the exact sciences has contributed very much to the growth and development of scientific psychology.
It must be stated that modern psychologists have gone far ahead of other social and behavioural sciences. In fact other social sciences such as sociology and political science have tried to adopt the tools and techniques of psychology for their own research and study.
However, the particular problem of quantifying and measuring behaviour still has its own peculiarities. While we may accept the standards and norms of accuracy and prediction set by the exact sciences, nevertheless, psychologists have had and will have to develop their own approaches to measurement and quantification of behaviour because of the very nature and characteristics of human behaviour.
Some of the peculiarities of human behaviour are given below:
Firstly all types of human behaviour are not explicit or visible. Only some aspects of behaviour are capable of being measured with instruments and gadgets directly. Thus, the inner needs and motives are difficult to measure directly.
Secondly, the individuals themselves would not be willing or ready to reveal certain aspects of human behaviour such as inner conflicts, problems of adjustments etc.
Thirdly the psycho-analytic school demonstrated the importance of unconscious processes which are not open to the awareness of the behaving individuals themselves. Such aspects have to be mostly inferred or measured through indirect methods. Thus, we may broadly categories measurements in psychology into indirect and direct measures.
Early attempts at measurement in psychology were simple and direct and were concerned with those aspects of human behaviour that could be directly measured. Later, with the enthusiasm of psychologists to measure other aspects of human behaviour, indirect approaches were developed.
By and large, sensations, learning, remembering, perception and similar variables are measured through direct means whereas indirect measures are largely used in studying motivational, personality and attitudinal variables.
Most intelligence tests are direct measures of intelligence while all the projective tests are indirect measures. Direct measures have the advantage in that they are simpler or more objective and are easy to handle, whereas indirect measures, to a large extent, depend on the interpretation of the individual’s behaviour and inference based on certain guidelines.
Yet another point that may be borne in mind is that direct measures are largely independent of specific theories of behaviour or personality. In fact, psychologists with different theoretical approaches and biases employed the same direct measures.
Indirect measures are largely associated with specific theories. Thus, projective tests such as the Rorschach test and TAT rest on certain basic assumptions about human behaviour and personality. Therefore, it can be said that direct measures give us measures of behaviour as they occur, while indirect measures give us scores which are arrived at on the basis of inferences and interpretations based on particular theories. Indirect measures are based on particular rationales.
It is also possible to consider psychological measures as empirical measures and rational measures. Empirical measures are based on the occurrence of certain behavioural patterns and are statistically arrived at. They are not based on any theory. Logical measures are based on certain theories. The best instance of convergence of the two traditions is found in the construction of attitude scales.
Errors in Measurement of Human Behaviour:
It is apparent that there are many instances where behavioural measures can be contaminated by errors. The requisites of accuracy, validity and reliability were explained. Naturally, when a number of errors creep in, the characteristics are affected adversely.
Errors in psychological measures are of two types; systematic errors and random errors. Systematic errors are those which occur repeatedly and are constant. For example, if while measuring the intelligence of a person, we employ a test which is too easy, then the individual’s intelligence is overestimated. Such an error is called a systematic error.
On the other hand, even if we employ a proper test and measure the individual’s intelligence on different occasions it is possible that the measured IQ on these different occasions will not be the same. Such variations are occasional examples of random errors which result from factors such as the subject’s mood, motivation, skills of the tests, etc.
Whenever we measure human behaviour we should be aware of the presence of such errors. Systematic errors are avoided by a very careful choice and usage of the test.
Random errors are taken care of by making repeated measurements and taking the average of all these scores. Errors in measurement, therefore, result from the defects in the measuring tools, defects in the measuring conditions and also certain factors in the subject as well as the experimenter.
5. Essay on the Controversies in the Study of Human Behaviour:
There are a number of current controversies in the study of human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective, and most of them closely parallel ongoing controversies in animal behaviour more generally.
One perennial point of discussion is whether measures of reproductive success are essential for testing adaptationist hypotheses. Evolutionary anthropologists who reported that wealth and/or status is positively related to reproductive success in certain societies presented these correlations as testimony to the relevance of Darwinism for the human sciences, and this invited the rejoinder that a failure to find such a correlation in modern industrialized societies must then constitute evidence of Darwinism’s irrelevance.
Anthropologist Donald Symons then entered the fray with a forceful counterargument to the effect that measures of reproductive attainment are virtually useless for testing adaptationist hypotheses, which should instead be tested on the basis of “design” criteria.
These arguments are sometimes read as if the issue applies only to the cultural animal Homo sapiens but, as Thornhill has pointed out, the same debate can be found in the nonhuman literature, with writers like Wade and Reeve and Sherman arguing that fitness consequences provide the best test of adaptationist hypotheses, whereas Thornhill and Williams defend the opposing view.
A related point of contention concerns the characterization of the human behaviour “environment of evolutionary adaptedness” (EEA). This concept is often invoked in attempts to understand the prevalence of some unhealthy or otherwise unfit practice in the modern world, such as damaging levels of consumption of refined sugar or psychoactive drugs.
The point is simply that these substances did not exist in the selective environment that shaped the human adaptations they now exploit, and that this is why we lack defenses against their harmful effects.
Essentially the same point can be made about more benign modern novelties, such as effective contraceptive devices, telephones, and erotica- there is little reason to expect that we will use these inventions in ways that promote our fitness, since they have, in a sense, been designed to “parasitize” our adaptations, and there has not been sufficient time for natural selection to have crafted countermeasures to their effects.
The EEA concept has become controversial because several writers believe that it entails untestable assumptions about the past; presupposes that human evolution stopped in the Pleistocene; and is invoked in a pseudo-explanatory post-hoc fashion to dispose of puzzling failures of adaptation.
Yet it is surely not controversial that a world with novel chemical pollutants, televised violence, internet pornography, and exogenous opiates is very different from that in which the characteristic features of human psychophysiology evolved.
Once again, these debates about the utility of the EEA concept are read as if the issue were peculiar to the human case. But in fact, any adaptation in any species has its “environment of evolutionary adaptedness,” and the notion that some adaptations are tuned to aspects of past environments which no longer exist is as relevant to the behaviour of other animals as it is to our own.
Byers, for example, has argued that various aspects of the human behaviour of the pronghorn, a social ungulate of North American grasslands, can only be understood as adaptations to predators that are now extinct.
Similarly, Coss et al. have demonstrated that California ground squirrels from different populations, none of which presently live in sympatry with rattlesnakes, may or may not exhibit adaptive anti-predator responses to introduced snakes and that the difference reflects how many millennia have passed since the squirrel populations lost contact with the rattlesnakes.
Yet another issue of current controversy concerns the reasons why there is so much genetic diversity affecting behavioural diversity within human populations. Personality dimensions in which there are stable individual differences consistently prove to have heritabilities of around 0.5, which means that about half the variability among individuals in things like extroversion, shyness, and willingness to take risks can be attributed to differences in genotype.
The puzzle is why selection “tolerates” this variability- if selection works by weeding out suboptimal variants and thereby optimizing quantitative traits, how can all this heritable diversity persist? One possibility is that the diversity is a functionless byproduct of the fact that selection on many traits is weak relative to mutation pressure; in finite populations, not all attributes can be optimized by selection simultaneously.
Another possibility is that heritable diversity in personality represents the expression of formerly neutral, variants in evolutionary novel environments. Still another view, argued by Tooby and Cosmides, is that heritable personality diversity is indeed functionless “noise” but is nevertheless maintained by frequency-dependent selection favouring rare genotypes in a never-ending “arms race” with polymorphic rapidly evolving pathogen strains.
Finally, Wilson has defended the possibility that there is a substantial prevalence of adaptive behavioural polymorphisms maintained by selection on the behavioural phenotypes themselves.
The “evolutionarily stable” state in game-theory models of social behaviour is often a mix of different types. If most individuals are honest reciprocators, for example, this creates a niche for exploitative “cheaters” whose success is maximal when they are extremely rare and declines as they become more prevalent.
Once again, this is obviously an issue of relevance in other species as well as human beings, and it is not an easy issue to resolve. However, the right answer will influence how we should look at matters ranging from sexual selection to psychopathology. Gangestad has argued that there is an evolutionarily stable mix of women with distinct sexualities such that some are inclined to long-term monogamy and others are not.
Lalumière et al. present evidence that “psychopaths,” socially exploitative people who are lacking in empathy for others, are not suffering from pathology but are instead a discrete type of person that is maintained at low frequencies by selection. How such ideas will fare in the light of future theorizing and research is an open question.