General Psychology and the Study of Human Behavior

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 November 2016

General Psychology and the Study of Human Behavior

Psychology is the study of the human behavior especially how the mind of the human beings works. For many years, the behavior of human beings has been studied by very many scholars and they have come up with very many reasons as to why people behave in such a manner. However, as a student my main ambition is to become a drug and alcohol counselor. Therefore, this class of general psychology has helped me in building my career very much due to the course content value. Variation is one of the most obvious characteristics of human behavior. An individual’s every day life is marked by an expansive fluctuation in almost every aspect of behavior such as the intelligence he exudes, the speed with which he moves, his expression of emotions, goals he pursues, humor, energy, anxiety, shyness, among others.

Even the most intelligent of human individuals have ordinary thoughts most of the time as they too are confronted with the normal activities like choosing the right mode of dressing, brushing in the morning and carrying out normal transactions. There is sufficient evidence towards the fact that one of the most striking features of a child’s behavior is its dynamic aspect of the stream of behavior recorded continuously (Barker, 1968). Any individual with no knowledge of psychology comprehend this dimension of human variation from their observation and experience. However, this is not prominent in scientific psychology. The concern of scientific psychology is another dimension of behavior variability with emphasis on individual differences.

This is a major step in psychology that despite the variations that occur within every individual’s behavior, the methods for measuring and identifying individual behavior constants have been devised. Scientific psychology’s concern is with the varied number of constants measured and how they relate with each other. There is however a difficulty in achieving a stable behavior measurement. For the stability of behavior measurement to be achieved, their must be an imposition of stable measurement upon the individual, land the same conditions must be reintroduced every time the measurement is being repeated. The employment of this method offers measures of individual constancies under certain conditions but terminates individual variations under varied conditions thereby destroying the such contexts of behavior that occur naturally. This problem is not however unique to psychology.

A beam’s strength can be measured under given specific conditions and under this very condition each time the measurement is being carried out. However, depending on the structural context, a beam possesses many strengths. This is also true for the meaning of words since words too have a range of meaning, the actual one being determined by the context in which it has been used. With this regard, an individual is like a beam or a word, possessing many strengths, intelligences, moralities, speeds and social maturities. However, it is clear where this intra-individual behavior variation comes from. An individual’s behavior is both internally and externally connected, though in a very complicated way. The internal parts of an individual such as the neurons, hormones or muscles and the external context such as the class, field or the game he is playing has a complex connection.

The psychological individual who reads a book, plays some game and walks on some road poses as an identifiable entity between the interior parts and the exterior contexts that are unstable, being linked to both the entities, yet profoundly separated from them. This separation emerges from the fact that the internal parts and the external contexts of an individual involves an entity that functions according to laws that are not the same as those that govern his behavior (Cromwell-Davis, 2008). Such things like the actions of the brain, contraction of muscles and the concentration of hormones are not psychological phenomena. With the current state of understanding, the operation of such phenomena involve laws that are not compatible with that of psychology.

The same applies to the environment with which an individual operates. The school or class where an individual is a student, the library he studies and the road he walks operates according to laws that are foreign with regard to that govern his behavior as an individual. The external context involves what has been referred to as the molar ecological environment which includes those phenomena that occurs naturally outside an individuals skin with which his molar actions are incorporated but operate according to laws that are incompatible with those laws that dictates his molar behavior (Baker, 1965). There is a difference between the psychological and ecological environment. One of the interesting aspects of human behavior is the course it takes when different variables are introduced within the environment. In the study below, behavior of individual was observed with regard to the distance between them and other human subjects.

Theory Statement

An individual’s mode of behavior is dictated by the distance between him and other subjects. According to Adam Kendon, every human behavior is located (Kendon 1990, p. 210). Human behavior takes place within a given space which has objects and people upon which the behavior is directed. The space and what it contains on the other hand influences the behavior of an individual. The space occupied and maintained by an individual’s behavior can in this respect be termed as the transactional space. The transactional space between two individuals influences their behavior.


In the following experiment, a study was conducted to investigate the extent to which transactional space influences the behavior of individuals in college. The investigator walked through the college in different areas where different activities were being carried out. The exercise took three hours and findings were recorded. The experiment was conducted in the campus park because of the diversity of activity and human interactions that takes place in it.


Since the study involved the study of behavior in face to face interaction, a major problem encountered was how to define the structural units in which the subjects were organized. In particular, it became difficult to delineate the distinct units of interaction with regard to the organization of observable behavior into their components for analysis. However, the observations were made randomly with neither of the subjects aware of the experiments. As such, the experimenter walked from one point to another, looking at the group formation and identifying individuals who did not have any company. The behavior which was recorded included eye focus, body movement and the degree of engagement in a particular action. In particular, the reaction of the subjects were observed whenever the experimenter approached an individual or a group of individuals. In all the instances, the experimenter did not engage the subjects in any form of conversation.

Observations and results

Behavior of individuals was varied depending on the activity and whether one was alone or in groups. Among the individuals who were alone, there seemed to be an absorption with either something that was going on around them or an absorption with an activity that they were involved with. They also seemed to react whenever an individual came within three meters of their transactional space. Of the notable behaviors, five out of six subjects looked directly at the individual who came within three meters of their transactional space.

Among groups of individuals, there was a variation in behavior with regard to the number. In a group of two, the subjects engaged in conversation with momentous eye contact. Whenever one passed within a distance of three meters, they all turned and depending on the behavior or gender of the individual, some responded with either greeting the individual or looked briefly and continued with their conversation. The latter instance was rare with groups of three or more.


A behavior setting is composed of one or more standing patterns of behavior. There are numerous patterns of behavior that have been recognized such as a molar unit or group activity. This is a bounded pattern in holistic human behavior. It is thus a discrete behavioral unit with coordinates which are univocal within space and time. As such, a standing pattern of behavior cannot be said to be a character of the subjects involved but rather, it is a phenomenon outside the individual with unique characteristics which remain whenever there is an alteration of the participants. One apparent thing among the subjects observed is that their behavior with regard to reacting to an individual coming within their transactional space is dependent among various factors which may not be open to the experimenter as human behavior is derived from both external and internal conditions.

As such, every observable behavior exhibited by an individual has various roots even though behavior can be predicted to some extent. The first thing that the course has helped to understand in relation to drug and alcohol is the different terms that are used when counseling a person. This are the general terms that are used when counseling a patient. For example, it is not good to use terms like “you are wrong,” “you do not know” or “you are foolish.” The course has helped to learn the new terms that I will be using like, “instead of saying you are wrong,” you can say, “that is another good reason.” Additionally, it has helped us to learn the tone of language that is to be used. When counseling a patient, one should always be calm and always be positive about what the patient is feeling and thinking.

It is also in this unit of general psychology that we have learnt how very different people behave in the different ways. This is where the course has taught me why different people behave as they do and why they end up drinking. Stress is one factor that makes people to end up becoming alcoholic or turning into drugs. Additionally, drug abuse and alcoholism has also been known to be hereditary from the resent research studies that have been done by the different scholars. It is through this course that we have learnt the very many reasons as to why people behave in different ways and why they take drugs or alcohol.

I have learnt the different forms of therapy that are used in counseling in this course. This is where the introduction to therapy is done. One way of helping a drug or an alcohol addict to stop the addiction is through therapy. Therapy is the solving of personal problems of a person that occurs daily. In therapy, talking with a trained professional is the method that is usually used to solve the different problems. Therefore, this unit of general psychology is helping me gain that knowledge and become a professional therapist in treating the different problems that different drug and alcohol addicts have.

It is also in this lesson of general psychology that I have learned the intelligence of the human thinking. In the growth graph, since the time somebody is born, the brain usually undergoes several stages intelligence. For example, when somebody is at the age of the teenage the brain starts to develop the ability to solve problems in reality. This means that the thinking capacity has grown and the person is able to think critically as compared to the person was young. Therefore, this lesson has helped me understand the different stages of intelligence in the human beings, making it easy for me when it comes to counseling the different people.

Motivation is another very important factor in counseling especially in the counseling of drug abusers and alcoholics. It is in this class where the subject of motivation is introduced and taught in detail to prepare the students as they go ahead with the studies of psychology. I have learnt the different methods that are used in motivating the different drug and alcohol addicts. This is very important because when counseling people who are drug or alcohol addicts, the people need to be motivated so that they can be able to quit easily without the need of turning back. Therefore, this lesson of general psychology has taught me a greater lesson in motivation and how it should be applied in the field of practice.

This class of general psychology has taught me a great number of different personalities that different people tend have. It is important to note that there is no way that two people can have the same personality. According to this chapter, it is because of how the different kinds of people have very different thoughts from one another. For this reason, the study of this lesson has been a very influential topic in my career as a counselor of drug addicts and alcoholics

In addition, this class has opened up my mind on the different perceptions that I always had about drunkards. When I had started this class, I had the wrong impression/perception of how the drug addicts and alcoholics behave. I thought that this people, are people who are just lazy in life and they only abuse drugs as an excuse to their many problems. However, this class of general psychology has changed my perception about the different drug addicts and alcoholics and it has given me an open mind, which is required by counselors when it comes to helping others during therapy.

Lastly, this lesson has been able to introduce some of the topics that are very useful in the study of counseling, and they are going to be learnt deeply in other classes especially at the level of specialization. Additionally, it is this unit, which has helped me realize that people are not always drug addicts or alcoholics because they want to be, but it is because of the different behaviors that they exhibit, which are affected by external factors like stress. These external factors can drive somebody crazy leading to drug abuse or alcohol abuse. Therefore, this subject has introduced me into the topic of human behavior in relation to drug abuse, alcoholism and how the following problems can be solved by the use of counseling.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 19 November 2016

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