Humans and human behavior are deeply rooted in the genetic makeup and environmental conditions. Several key theories and research within biological, cognitive, and social psychology can explain the strong biological influence of nature on human behavior. The latter implies a complex set of various psychological factors, including group processes and decision making, the linkage between brain and mood, neuroscience and plasticity, and ethical issues in psychology. This essay argues that nature is the biggest influence on human behavior according to in-depth psychological research and the biological basis of the human mind and body.
The Power of Groups
The psychological approach to studying the group process and decision-making is inherently embedded at the core of the social sciences. The relationship between the individual and the group of people is considered a highly critical aspect of human life and behavioral process in terms of social psychology. In 1954, Festinger developed a social comparison theory, which indicates that individuals compare their “abilities and opinions” to those of other people to understand how to behave in modern society (Capdevila, 2014, p. 87). In addition, Buss (1995) states that groups engaged in constant cooperation with one another have a better chance of surviving in terms of an evolutionary vision. More specifically, humans who were able to control adaptions, including “cooperativeness, loyalty, and fear of being socially excluded,” were more likely to reproduce and transfer such qualities to future generations (Capdevila, 2014, p. 88). The existing research argues that long-term self-isolation from other individuals might lead to detrimental consequences, even if it was a person’s own choice.
Generally speaking, psychological studies repeatedly demonstrate that human beings equally require time spent alone and in the company of other people. In the history of psychological science, there is a critical distinction in understanding the emergence of groups and their impact on one’s behavior. In one respect, individual behavior can be interpreted in relation to social. In contrast, groups are considered not more than a gathering of people. More particularly, LeBon developed the concept of the “group mind” in 1896 to define the behavior of crowds. His theory of crowd behavior is based on the loss of individual rationality by establishing a group mind. Moreover, this process involves three primary mechanisms, such as “anonymity, contagion, and suggestibility” (Capdevila, 2014, p. 89). However, LeBon’s theory is developed only within the context of a group mind and presents a vague and metaphysical notion that is difficult to examine from the scientific scrutiny perspective.
Studying groups is crucial for comprehending human behavior both inside a particular group or when the individual is alone. A better understanding of the group processes helps make a pivotal distinction between task-related (instrumental) behavior and social-emotional (expressive) behavior. The ingroup conflicts might constrain it from achieving the specific goals, which can be addressed by processes focused on interpersonal relations and managing emotions. Such tensions are believed to be promoted by instrumental, goal-directed behavior. For instance, Bales claimed that all groups should “tend towards equilibrium,” since the imbalance between the task-oriented and social-emotional concerns can lead to severe tension. Therefore, there is an evident differentiation of the roles within a group, given that some individuals undertake more task-oriented roles, while others are focused on social-emotional behaviors. Another critical psychological approach to explaining group behavior implies Tuckman and Jensen’s five-stage model of group development. The model serves as a convenient and efficient approach in understanding and planning workgroups and teams.
Intragroup and Intergroup Processes and Decision-Making
In the early stage, psychology mostly concentrated on productivity, as well as comparing group and individual performance. Norman Triplett initiated such research based on social facilitation, which represents how a particular person is influenced by
other people’s presence. Also, social loafing by Ringelmann illustrates one’s disposition to put less effort during collective work compared to the work conducted in isolation (Capdevila, 2014). However, these notions are regarded as highly individualistic they cannot provide a theory of groups because they are mainly concerned with the individual behavior within groups. Furthermore, three psychological theories examine the processes engaged in group decision-making in the real world, which are closely intertwined concepts (Capdevila, 2019). They include social comparison theory, persuasive arguments theory, and self-categorization theory. Each of them refers to the space for arguments and self-identification with a specific group. With this said, the fundamental concept of social identity theory indicates that interpersonal behavior is based on individual characteristics oneself, whereas intergroup behavior is defined by membership in the group and relations with others.
The Relation between Brain and Mood
Humans’ ability to experience a broad spectrum of moods refers to a state of the brain and mind. Different moods are closely related to different patterns of activity by the brain. Mental events are considered to comply with brain events and the moods that one experiences, which are, in turn, impacted by both external (social) and internal (biological) factors (Toates, 2014). Concerning the biological structure of the human body, the brain and spinal cord form the central nervous system (CNS), which extends across the body through nerves. Neurons that represent a specific type of cells in the nervous system communicate with other cells at synapses. A neuron releases neurotransmitters at a synapse, which can excite or inhibit. On the contrary, hormones are released at one site in the human body and are transferred to another site, engaging receptors and affecting the action. Therefore, both the biology and psychology of an individual play a fundamental role in understanding the nature of mood within the social context.
A biopsychosocial model is associated with the determination of moods by internal and external factors and implies biological, psychological, and social aspects. Such a model emphasizes the crucial role of biology, psychology, and social factors in determining mental states and behavior. Toates (2019) also explores the impact of psychoactive drugs on altering the activity of neurons and the nature of depression, as the result of internal or external events. Toates (2014, p. 257) refers to the findings that depression can result from “biological and social factors,” supporting a biopsychosocial model of the condition. Moreover, the self-harming behavior oneself triggers the release of opioids, causing a mood elevation and can be characterized by a biopsychosocial model. In addition, the human brain has hedonic hotspots, which can be identified by neuroimaging. The various activities can stimulate these areas, resulting in the experience of a positive mood. Exercise and humor can also facilitate a positive mood by releasing due to endorphin release.
The science of cognitive neuropsychology aims at explaining the relationship between cognitive impairment and brain injury. The cognitive models endeavor to describe the functional architecture to understand better a system, such as a language or memory. According to Tree (2014), the features of patterns regarding patient impairment can educate about a normal cognitive process and the different ways it can collapse. Cognitive neuropsychology can also be highly useful for the experimental psychologist and the clinicians. A powerful tool in cognitive neuropsychology is called double dissociations; it determines the sub-processes that may act independently. Numerous conventional perceptions of cognitive neuropsychologists remain undecided concerning linking cognitive function to specific brain areas. Therefore, they tend to focus more on the behavioral impairment instead of the “neurological lesion” (Tree, 2014, p. 288). Considering multiple methodological and theoretical assumptions, there is still a controversy about whether observed behavior in a recovering patient manifests functional reorganization or the normal cognitive system’s processing under some level of disruption.
The presentation of cognitive function to neural regions of the brain might be dynamic, which refers to neural plasticity’s central issue. As described by Tree (2014), the degree of brain plasticity in relation to language function diminishes with brain maturity. It is evident that cognitive models need to manage to capture such dynamic qualities possessed by the human brain. Modern cognitive models are based on developing computational simulations of neural networks that can address such problems. They can also address the issues of human learning of information that one subsequently stores in the brain. Another critical concern is “semantic memory,” which serves as a vital element of human experience comprising the sum of all the things one has learned during life (Tree, 2014). From the psychological perspective, studying semantic memory is crucial for understanding the challenging organization of vast information storage.
Examining External Psychological Research
Based on the above analysis, it is a long-standing approach to explaining and understanding the authentic nature of human behavior considering the biological aspects of the human brain, central nervous system, mood experience, group engagement, and neuropsychology. In her research, Hutchison (2018) investigates the complexity of the biological environment and claims that biology cannot be analyzed from a dualist perspective. Such a vision separates the human body from the external world in which it continually functions. Therefore, biology should be regarded as “inextricably intertwined with experience, behavior, objects, and environmental influences” (Hutchison, 2018, p. 79). Moreover, individual factors imply the biological and psychological realms. Revelle (2020), instead, examines the psychological oeuvre of Eysenck grounded in the biological basis of personality and behavior genetics. Such a biological basis encompasses classic learning principles aiming to define the behavioral correlates and consequences.
To conclude, the discussed intergroup and intragroup social behavior help understand the relationship within and between the social groups and their substantial impact on individual human behavior. The analyzed biological aspects of the brain and its functional role in the human body are closely intertwined with the psychological aspects of the relationship between the brain and mood. A collaborative work of neuropsychology, neuroscience and computational modeling can help elevate the further perception of semantic memory organization and broader aspects regarding the relations between the brain and human behavior. The vast number of research mainly advocates for the multiple nature of human behavior caused by the common impact of external and internal factors and shaped by the biological processes in the human body.
Capdevila, R. (2014) ‘Are you with us or against us? Group processes and decision making’, in Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. and Briggs, G. (eds.) Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 1. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 85–123.
Capdevila, R. (2019) DE200 Investigating psychology 2. Week 3 Study Guide. Maidenhead: The Open University.
Hutchison, E. D. (2018) Dimensions of human behavior: Person and environment. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Revelle, W. (2020) ‘Hans J. Eysenck’, in Carducci, B. J., Nave C. S., Mio, J. S., and Riggio, R. E. (eds.) The Wiley encyclopedia of personality and individual differences: Models and theories. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., pp. 51-55. Web.
Toates, F. (2014) ‘Why do I feel this way? Brain, behaviour and mood’, in Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. and Briggs, G. (eds.) Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 1. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 215–271.
Toates, F. (2019) DE200 Investigating psychology. Week 17 Study Guide. Maidenhead: The Open University.
Tree, J. (2014) ‘How does my brain work? Neuroscience and plasticity’, in Capdevila, R., Dixon, J. and Briggs, G. (eds.) Investigating psychology 2: From social to cognitive, volume 1. Maidenhead: Open University Press, pp. 279–317.