The purpose of understanding human behavior and the attempt of its predicting demands a multidimensional approach to it. Various sciences may contribute to such understanding, and each of them considers the causes of behavioral patterns and, thus, the methods of altering them differently. In this paper, specificities of the major approaches to the explanation of human behavior, such as biological, psychological, and sociological aspects, will be discussed. It will further allow making the conclusion about their difference.
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A Specific Biological Explanation of the Behavior
Biology is considered a crucial component that shapes human behavior. The biological approach is based on the idea of the link between mind and body, where the former provides the initial stimuli to the actions of the latter. Biologists’ “basic assumption” about human behavior is that it is “result of both cause and effect of certain biological conditions that exist or develop” (Wormer 46).
One of the theories that contribute to studies of the human behavioral issues is biogenetics, which connects behavior to hereditary characteristics, based on personal genomes (a whole set of DNA) of the individuals. This theory explains mental disorders, problems of aging, health issues, deviant behavior, or addictions as an outcome of the specific configuration of genes.
According to this approach, the psychological attributes of the people have biological roots. As some scientists note, “we are, after all, animals – members of a species – and we bring into the world, encoded in our bodies… the history of our species and the history of our family” (Wormer 46). While taken to its extreme, this view leads to complete biological determinism; however, the existence of the other theories prevent this extreme, challenging the primacy of the physiological factors in human behavior.
A Specific Psychological Explanation of the Behavior
It is recognized by scientists, that the biological attributes of the behavior should be considered along with psychological, with the aim to understand mind-body nexus. It is not only biological factors that influence human behavior, as it cannot explain the development of moral sense, or the reason for unhealthy addictions, which are contradictory to the biological survival mechanism. Along with that, the irrationality of human actions, inability to explain their motives by an actor, refers to some other roots of behavior except physiological determination.
In the theory of the psychologist Abraham Maslow, the human needs form a pyramid-like hierarchy (Wormer 101). At the bottom of it are physiological needs, such as feeding or reproduction, which form the primary base of the behavior; further, it is followed by the necessity of safety. However, once these needs are fulfilled, the others emerge, which are the need for belongingness and love, self-esteem, self-actualization, and transcendence. These factors obviously belong to the psychological realms, as well as social.
A Specific Sociological Explanation of the Behavior
While in the psychological explanation, the accent is made of the individual drives of behavior, the sociological approach focuses on its rootedness in the community. In other words, a human is considered not as mere “animal,” but as a “social animal.” Referring to Maslow’s paradigm, some opponents point out his “neglection of socio-cultural attributes related to race and gender,” as well as some socio-economic matters (Wormer 102).
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Sociologists study the impact of such factors as social status, belonging to particular racial, economic, age, gender groups, or explicit public ideology, on the individuals. However, these issues are often intermingled with psychological reasons, again proving the complexity of human behavior.
In summary, the difference between biological, psychological, and physiological explanations of human behavior must be outlined. The biological approach considers the factor of “nature” as the most essential. At the same time, the psychological aspect generally agrees with that but goes further and studies not only “physical nature,” but more complex, subtle mental level.
The sociological theories focus on the “nurture” instead of “nature,” looking at the social influence on the individual as the crucial factor that forms behavior. However, at present, scientists of different areas share the opinion that only the holistic approach, which combines all aspects, can bring the perspectives for understanding human behavior in all its complexity.
Wormer, Katherine van. Human Behavior and the Social Environment, Micro Level: Individuals and Families. Oxford University Press, 2017.