From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Behavior refers to the actions of an organism, usually in relation to the environment. Behavior can be conscious or subconscious, overt or covert, and voluntary and involuntary.
In humans, behavior is controlled by the endocrine system and the nervous system. The complexity of the behavior of an organism is related to the complexity of its nervous system. Generally, organisms with complex nervous systems have a greater capacity to learn new responses and thus adjust their behavior. Behaviors can be either innate or learned.
More generally, behavior can be regarded as any action of an organism that changes its relationship to its environment. Behavior provides outputs from the organism to the environment.
Human behavior (and that of other organisms and mechanisms) can be common, unusual, acceptable, or unacceptable. Humans evaluate the acceptability of behavior using social norms and regulate behavior by means of social control. In sociology, behavior is considered as having no meaning, being not directed at other people and thus is the most basic human action, although can play a part in diagnosis of disorders such as autism. Animal behavior is studied in comparative psychology, ethology, behavioral ecology and sociobiology.
Behavior became an important construct in early 20th century Psychology with the advent of the paradigm known subsequently as "behaviorism". Behaviorism was a reaction against "faculty" psychology which purported to see into or understand the mind without the benefit of scientific testing. Behaviorism insisted on working only with what can be seen or manipulated and in the early views of John B. Watson, a founder of the field, nothing was inferred as to the nature of the entity that produced the behavior. Subsequent modifications of Watson's perspective and that of "classical conditioning" (see under Ivan Pavlov) led to the rise of operant conditioning or "radical behaviorism," a theory advocated by B.F. Skinner, which took over the academic establishment up through the 1950s and was synonymous with "behaviorism" for many.
For studies on behavior, ethograms are used.
- Behavioural sciences
- Cognitive bias
- Human sexual behavior
- Normality (behavior)
- Social relation