Human behavior is a complex function. Each individual’s behavior differs from another’s and is based on several factors such as biological, social and cultural environment, cognitive and psychodynamic influences, etc. Biological behavior is behavior that is rooted in human instinct. No learning is necessary for this kind of behavior. Examples of such behavior are behavior triggered by self-preservation, hunger, sex etc.
Learning is the process where the human being learns new behavior or modifies existing ones depending on whether events in their environment reward or punish these behavior patterns. Further, there are social and cultural influences on human behavior as we have seen that individuals from different social and cultural backgrounds behave in very different manner under similar circumstances. The cognitive aspects of our behavior examines how we process, store, and use the information available to us, and how this information influences what we perceive, learn, remember, believe and feel.
Finally the psychodynamic approach is a study of particular psychology traits and psychological problems and identifying how unconscious fears and desires are often the cause of these and how very often it is our childhood experiences that greatly influence such behavior. In this essay we shall examine these different aspects of human behavior and study how they impact our relationships. We shall take as an example the relation between a couple who have been together for nine years.
We shall look into how their relationship began, what are the factors that contributed to the maturing of the relationship and what are the challenges they experienced and how they dealt with them. And in this process, we shall find out how the biological, socio-cultural, cognitive and psychodynamic perspectives of human behavior influence each of their behavior and thinking. Any relationship that is not handed down to us like a blood relationship often needs a trigger and the most important of such relationships is a love relationship.
Even when we walk into a party full of unknown people, there are some people who we immediately feel attracted to and others whom we don’t. In a love relationship, the initial attraction is often rooted in biological behaviour, or it is the biological nature of any animal to find a sexual partner. Sex is a fundamental cause that fuels biological behaviour. The couple here met during college days when they both signed up for a dance competition. They met at an age when sexual needs dominate human behavior the most. They both confess to have felt an immediate attraction and an urge to “know the other better”.
It helped that their dance required them to be physically close to each other. They started looking forward to their evening practice and soon found out that the attraction was mutual. Biological behavior is also rooted in each partner looking for a partner who will be a good parent to father or mother the children. Life’s natural course is procreation and very often in searching for a partner who can fulfill one’s own needs one is also looking for someone who will have the ideal qualities to be a parent to one’s children.
The next level of their relationship was when they actively started meeting and spending more time with each other. It is interesting to note that it was the girl who took the initiative at this stage. The guy was hesitating since his past experience of taking the first step had often resulted in rejection. This is a classic case of learning, where his current behavior is a result of his past conditioning. For the girl, however, it was only natural to approach him. Her behavior pattern has made her a direct, outspoken somewhat impulsive person who did not think about the consequences before jumping into an action.
Perhaps, if she had not taken the first initiative, their relationship would have gone unrealized. Sometimes it is single impulse that causes an action that has a long term consequence. It is interesting to note here that this single response can be a result of all of the above factors, the biological, social and cultural influence etc playing their own role to make an individual behave in a certain way. This action in this case became the foundation stone for a long and fruitful relationship in the years to come. The wedding happened four years later after a long courtship.
They had a very satisfying sexual relationship during these four years and it was during this period that the relationship graduated from being a mere physical one to one that could satisfy the emotional and mental needs of the partner. Our needs are more than the sexual and mere sexual satisfaction cannot sustain a long term relationship. They found out that they had a good time with each other and each one enjoyed the other’s company and sense of humor. The girl found her boyfriend intelligent and she especially liked the fact that he loved spending and enjoyed living in luxury.
Now this factor had a big role to play in her getting closer to him, not so much because spending money was the greatest of virtues, but because in the home she had grown up in, luxury was not encouraged. Life was lived at the level of comfort and her father had been very strict with the use of money. This shows how one’s economic environment also shapes one’s belief and concept patterns. The economic environment had affected her cognitive learning, where her father’s behavior had created a deep longing in her to live her life with one who would share her belief that money was meant to be spent and enjoyed and not be stored away in banks.
Cognitive learning is one of the greatest forces affecting human behavior and not the easiest to understand as there are several factors that contribute to the this aspect of one’s behavior. Our expectations are almost completely formed by our cognitive learning and the success or the failure of a relationship is hugely determined by each other’s expectations. Especially in a love relationship, it is our expectations that determine whom we choose to be a partner and with whom we nurture a long term relationship.
For the boy, being with her made him feel loved and needed. This is one driving force in any relationship. Especially for the boy, since he had grown up in a hostel, away from his parents the assurance that his presence was desired and needed by someone was a great reassurance. Once more we see how one’s desires and expectations play a major role in determining one’s relationship, especially during the early stages of development of the relationship. This couple has been married for five years now which gives their relationship an age of nine years.
The years after marriage saw complete different aspects and behavior patterns of both of them. While during the dating period, it was easy for each one of them to overlook the weaknesses and only see the qualities that they wanted to see, after the honeymoon period was over, they soon found about each other’s drawbacks and weaknesses and there came a period when it became difficult for them to see what it was that had attracted them to each other in the first place. Now every relationship, no matter how successful, goes through troubled waters and theirs was no exception.
It was interesting to note that while it was the girl who was primarily responsible for developing the relationship and getting them closer to each other, she was also the one who was first to pull away. In fact it was the boy who nurtured the relationship through the difficult times. To the boy, a relationship was meant to be for keeps. Having seen his parents separate when he was very young and having experienced the pain of that separation, having played with friends who had loving parents and seeing how they cared about each other, he knew how important it was to save a relationship.
He knew that finding a new partner cannot ever replace the old one or solve the problem. Again, it was his childhood experiences, his social background that had formed these concepts in his mind and has therefore been responsible for his behavior. His wife however had a more impulsive personality. She was demanding and easily upset when those demands were not satisfied. Such behavior came from psychodynamic influences that resulted from having had a restricted childhood and a very strict father.
The feeling of not having been allowed enough freedom made her desire for more. She was also the one among the both of them to get easily angry and had the lesser amount of patience. To her husband however, these were mere personality traits in her and did not make any difference to the fact that he loved her. And it was this sensitivity, this maturity in his outlook that saved their relationship and took it from an immature pleasure-seeking activity to one that had depth, maturity, companionship and the ability to withstand stormy weather.
Sometimes the same personality traits that bring us together are the ones that drive us apart. For example, it we like the passion, the fire, intelligence and wit in the other, we often see that they also come with a quick temper, impulsiveness and short sightedness. While we like the former we cannot withstand the latter. Similarly, someone seems calm, composed, silent and patient, qualities that we really like. Soon they become boring, too quiet, passive and dull. Again, when like the former but when the latter start manifesting we need fresh air.
Behavioral traits are like that and to really make a relationship successful we need to be able to look beyond the behavioral characteristics alone. Like the way a mother loves her baby has nothing to do with how the baby behaves. The baby may throw up on her but still he is the apple of her eye. There is no effort in that relationship. One can completely be his own self with people he is closest to. Loving someone for who he or she is rather than how he or she behaves is of key importance here.
Because while behaviors, belief, ideas, concepts may change the person still remains who he or she is. Acceptance of the other person for all this qualities as well as the drawbacks is essential. Such a relationship has compassion and understanding, qualities that can sustain a relationship rather than mere passion and fervor, qualities that can make for a wonderful experience in the short while but cannot sustain for a long period. Also, to have a healthy relationship it helps to have been around healthy relationships and a loving environment.
Good communication is almost a pre requisite, because a person’s behavior can often get misinterpreted and one needs to be able to communicate properly to avoid that. For good communication it is also essential to spend time with each other and do enriching activities like playing sports, exercising, listening to music etc together which was something both of them indulged in. Also important is having mutual respect for each other and the belief to make it work. ? References 1. “Introduction to Human Behavior” by Jeffrey Eric Criste