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The Influence of Environment on Human Behaviour

This essay is going to discuss the importance of internal factors in shaping human behaviour and performance. Personality, attitudes and beliefs are internal factors which some people believe are the reason for people’s behaviour and performance. However, others believe that external factors such as social pressure and surroundings explain human behaviour and performance too. The first few paragraphs are going to have examples of the importance of internal factors and the paragraph’s after that are going to be opposing paragraphs.

The essay will end with a clear conclusion.

Personality refers to individual differences in the characteristic that lead people to behave the way they do. Moreover, personality appears to be central to the way in which many people view and interpret the causes of other people’s actions, attitude’s, choices etc. It would seem that personality is widely acknowledged as playing a significant role in the way individuals are and how they associate with their surroundings. Sigmund Freud was a psychoanalysis that had a theory that personality consists of two broad elements: the conscious and the unconscious.

In addition to this, he had a psychoanalytic theory of personality that argues that human behaviour is determined by drives, impulses and motivations that are not accessible to conscious awareness. According to this theory, the adult personality develops from childhood experiences and based on how these experiences are consciously and unconsciously processed within human developmental stages. Another theory, which aims to explain behaviour is the personality theory put forward by Paul Costa and Robert Mcrae (1992).

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The personality theory has five factors and depending on someone’s position on the scales, their personality and how they would behave in specific situations can be predicted with great accuracy.

There have also been more theories about personality, for example, the authoritarian personality. The authoritarian personality refers to a specific personality held by people which makes them more prone to obedience. Adorno et al (1950) devised a test Called the California f scale, that asked the participants to state how much they agreed with particular statements, to measure levels of an authoritarian personality. The higher the person scores on the test the more authoritarian personality they had. The individuals who are said to have the authoritarian personality become vulnerable to extremists’ ideologies and this predisposes them to commit acts of violence in the name of political ideology. furthermore, Individuals with this personality tend to be rigid thinkers, who have a strict adherence to social values, and show hostility to inferiors, but servility to others.

However, it may be argued that personality is shaped by external factors such as the environment. As the questionnaires did not explain where the authoritarian personality developed from and why some individuals presented the characteristics and some did not Adorno et al (1950) conducted interviews to look for the underlying causes of authoritarianism. The interviewers asked the participant’s a wide range of questions about their opinions on various subjects, such as his or her childhood, family, work, politics and attitudes towards minority groups, his or her ambitions, goals and fears. A sample of 150 participant’s, half from those who scored high on the authoritarianism scale and half that scored low was picked and interviewed to find out why or why they did not develop an authoritarian personality. Adorno compared the data from the two groups and observed that the personality is formed through childhood as a result of strict parenting. The children that grew up in stricter family environments also tended to have parents who gave out harsher disciplinary, who were quick to punish infractions and who demanded obedience. This caused the children to grow up with love and hate towards their parents. Even though the feelings of anger and hostility are hidden away in the unconscious they continue to have influence, so as hostility could not be expressed towards the individual’s parents, it is expressed towards others during adulthood. Do these findings suggest that external factors such as environment shape personality itself so is it really internal factors that play a more important role in shaping human behaviour and performance?

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The Influence of Environment on Human Behaviour. (2020, Sep 04). Retrieved from

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