HSP3M Grade 11 Anthropology – Psychologic Behavior

Section 5.2—Psychology and Behaviour

Psychology Influences Behaviour

  • behaviour is influenced by a variety of factors
  • psychological influences on behaviour are: attitude, motivation, mental health, and social thinking

How Does Motivation Affect Behaviour?

  • what motivates an athlete to put so much effort in; what motivates our parents to go to work
  • motivation can’t be seen, but it can be assumed/inference
    • we can assume what motivates our parents to go to work (money)
  • psychologists wonder how someone is motivated
  • there are 3 factors to motivation: biological, cognitive, and achievement


Biological Motivation

  • we do some of the things we do because we have to—it’s a biological necessity (eat, sleep, drink)
  • early ideas on biological motivation is made of two theories:
    • instinct theory
      • the theory that believes involuntary and unlearned processes direct our behaviours (instincts are involuntary and unlearned processes direct our behaviour)
      • instinctively, we drink water when we’re thirsty; babies instinctively cry
      • belief that many decisions are made by the unconscious mind
      • criticism: fails to explain how psychological wants motivate us to do what we do; theory no longer popular/used
    • drive reduction theory
      • based upon the instinct theory
      • theory is based upon belief that the our physiological needs create drives that need to be reduced, which motivates us to satisfy this need
      • ex: if you haven’t eaten all day, your hunger drive will increase, and you’ll be motivated to reduce the drive by getting food
      • criticism: doesn’t explain why our drives don’t run our lives (why does a hungry person not eat until the table is set and everyone is sitting)
  • it is believed we use reason and emotion to make decisions; we aren’t always rational (meaning unconscious mind rules our decision making)
    • gut feelings help us make decisions


Cognitive Motivation: Rewards and Punishments

  • there are two forms of cognitive motivation:
    • intrinsic: desire to perform a task for its own sake
      • wanting to do something because you want to get better at it
    • extrinsic: desire to perform a task due to external factors, such as reward or the threat of punishment
      • wanting to do something because there’s a reward; doing something because if you didn’t there would be punishment
      • ex: cleaning your room because only when your room is clean do you get to hang with friends
  • many researchers believe intrinsic is better than extrinsic motivation (getting good grades because you want to do well vs. getting good grades because you’ll be given money for straight A’s)
    • ex: businesses realise that year end bonuses/compensation aren’t as effective at getting employees to work well
    • rewards are known to backfire (kids were asked to draw; some were told they’ll get a prize for drawing, other weren’t told; eventually, those who were told they’d get a prize were less motivated to draw again)
  • a negative bias exists—the tendency to recall and react to unpleasant events than pleasant ones
    • therefore motivation that uses threat of punishment has potential for negative consequences—if you’re stuck at home because you didn’t clean your room, your less likely to clean your room next time by instinct


Achievement Motivation

  • each of us have the need to master certain skills and to achieve certain goals (be the best at a video game; be the top scorer of the team)
  • achievement motivation can be based on extrinsic motivation, but it’s definitely not based on biological motivation
  • those who have high levels of achievement motivation simply have a desire to accomplish a goal to a high standard
  • Alfred Adler (founder of birth order) believed there to be a universal drive in all humans: striving for perfection
    • Maslow’s hierarchy: the different levels represent needs which motivate behaviour
  • achieving goals is an important part of human nature and leads to success in and out of school
    • there are short and long term goals—typically short term goals (graduating high school) are stepping stones for long term goals (getting a good job)

The Roots of Intelligence Testing

  • Sir Francis Galton (Charles Darwin’s cousin) was determined to find out if intelligence runs in families
    • by applying Darwin’s theory, he believed smart people should only mate with smart people, in order to produce smart offspring
    • he developed various ways of measuring intelligence, but wasn’t successful
  • Galton’s work influenced Alfred Binet to create the Binet Intelligence Test
    • Binet’s test was modified by Lewis Terman of Stanford University, and it became known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test
  • the Stanford-Binet is a standardized test—it’s first given to a representative sample of people and the results from the sample are used to compare those who take the test
    • majority of people have IQs between 85 and 115, with the average being 100
    • superior intelligence is above 120, while developmental disability is below 70
  • twins tend to have the same IQs—but it’s hard to determine if intelligence is environment or genetics because twins have the same genetics and are raised in the same environment typically (the same house)
    • however, twins who were raised apart still have similar IQs
    • adoptive children have more similar IQs with their biological parents than with their adoptive parents
  • environmental influences can affect IQ scores—the type of schooling, housing, nutrition
    • in the USA, IQ scores are on the rise, and since the genetics haven’t changed, it must mean that the environment Americans are being raised in are better (high quality homes, smaller family sizes, nutrition)
    • also, twins raised together have much more similar IQs than twins raised apart (meaning environment is a big influence)

How Does Attitude Affect Behaviour?

  • the way in which you perceive and react to a situation is influenced by a variety of things, including attitude
  • your beliefs and feelings (attitude) guide your responses toward certain people and events
    • your attitude is reflected in your behaviour
    • ex: if your attitude is that fairness is important, it’ll impact your behaviour to not cut lines in the cafeteria


How Are Attitudes Formed?

  • a person’s environment influences attitude more than genetics
  • Leon Festinger created the term cognitive dissonance—the theory that people are motivated to reduce the discomfort they feel when their behaviour doesn’t match their attitude
    • to relieve this discomfort, we usually change our attitude
    • ex: you don’t like fishing but you’re forced to help promote a charity fishing trip; you’re slightly uncomfortable because you’re behaviour doesn’t reflect your attitude; chances are you’ll change your attitude to match your task of promoting fishing trip


Types of Attitudes

  • psychologists typically classify attitudes as: positive, negative, and sometimes ambivalent (both + and -)
  • we have either implicit or explicit attitudes
    • explicit: based on our conscious thoughts and beliefs
    • implicit: based on unconscious thoughts and beliefs
      • ex: businesses are more likely to hire men as leaders than women—this is because unconsciously, we have the belief leaders are usually male


Can Attitude Predict Behaviour?

  • there are times when we don’t act the way we think, meaning sometimes our attitudes don’t math our behaviours (in the example of cognitive dissonance—we behave in a way that contradicts our attitude)
  • sometimes, we behave differently because of the situation we’re in (someone who doesn’t smoke might try it because of peer pressure/friends are doing it)
  • general attitudes don’t predict behaviour (just because someone likes the environment, doesn’t mean they’ll recycle)
  • attitudes to specific situations can affect behaviour (someone who believes in recycling, will likely recycle)
  • Walter Mischel conducted the marshmallow experiment in the 1960s
    • he gave kids a marshmallow and told them that if they waited 15 minutes to eat it, they’ll get a second marshmallow
    • he interviewed the same kids 18 years later—30% of the kids waited the 15 mins, and 18 years later, they were more successful in life
    • this experiment shows that attitude affects behaviour
    • extension to experiment: David Walsh believes children need to be taught self-discipline, as it involves better behaviour (ex: no self discipline people will buy with credit cards and not be able to pay the bill at the end of the month)


Can Attitudes Be Changed?

  • there are four major theories which show attitude can change:


THEORY INFO assumes that individuals need consistency between attitude and behaviour (cognitive dissonance theory) stimulus influence other stimulus to create an emotional response prior attitudes change the perception of persuasive messages and influence that persuasion questions the purpose of attitudes
HOW IT CHANGES ATTITUDE create an inconsistency in knowledge and behaviour; consistency is restored by changing attitudes change attitude by using classical and operant conditioning techniques change attitude by taking in fair and unbiased messages creating inconsistency between an attitude and its functions
EXAMPLE students are asked to present a topic which is opposite their own beliefs students are rewarded for good behaviour; punished for bad behaviour evaluate new opinions for fairness and bias students may think uniforms are nerdy but learn they contribute to safety



The Psychology of Marketing: How It Changes Our Minds

  • marketing experts are able to change attitudes in order to have people but their products
  • ex: Volkswagen’s Fun Experiment: people changed their behaviour, as they were more likely to go up the stairs than the elevator, when the stairs were in the design of a piano keyboard, and made sound as people went up the steps/keys
  • government campaigns have changed our attitudes on garbage and recycling (more people recycle now a days)
    • they’ve also changed our attitudes on smoking with warning labels on cigarette packs

Social Thinking

  • social thinking involves wondering why a person does what they do (ex: did that person hug you as a friendly gesture or do they have a crush on you)
  • Fritz Heider’s attribution theory: a person’s behaviour is the result of his/her disposition (character) or an external situation


How Do We Explain Behaviour?

  • we are more likely to attribute a person’s behaviour to his/her internal disposition rather than to the situation
  • fundamental attribution error: the tendency to overestimate the impact of personal disposition and underestimate the impact of social influences when analyzing the behaviours of others
    • ex: if someone is quiet in class you expect them to be shy (their disposition/character); however, they could just be shy in class and be the life of parties
    • we never male attribution error when we explain our own behaviour, because we understand how our behaviour changes according to the situation we’re in (polite to teachers; use swear words with friends)


Examining Stereotypes

  • stereotypes are our preconceived beliefs about someone/group of people
  • John Bargh performed an experiment with stereotypes (preconceived beliefs)
    • had 3 kinds of scrambled word worksheets: one with rude words (disturb,, bother bold), one with polite words (nice, courteous, kind), and one with neutral words (cat, apple)
    • individuals were randomly given a kind of worksheet
    • when they were done they had to hand it in to Bargh; however, he was in a lengthy conversation, so they were kept waiting
    • majority of those who did the rude word scramble interrupted the conversation; majority of those who did the polite scramble didn’t interrupt
    • experiment shows that people can be unconsciously cued to have certain beliefs and behave towards others in accordance to those unconscious beliefs)


Positive Attraction

  • people are often attracted to those who have found meaning in their life (they’re thought of as more likeable, better friends, and have more desirable conversations)
  • how you see others affect how you react to them—your reaction to a person who smiles at you vs. someone who’s frowning at you


How Do We Change Our Behaviour?

  • Carlo DiClemente and James Prochaska identified 5 stages of change (the transtheoretical model of change)
    • stage 1: pre-contemplation
      • has not yet acknowledged problem in behaviour (smoking, video game addiction)
    • stage 2: contemplation
      • acknowledges problem but isn’t sure what to do
    • stage 3: preparation
      • commits to change and gets plan of action
    • stage 4: action
      • changes behaviour
    • stage 5: maintenance
      • keeps new behaviour
      • if behaviour is stable, and you stay at maintenance long enough, transcendence occurs (find it hard to imagine you had such a “stupid” problem)
      • if you can’t keep up the new behaviour, you go into relapse—cycle starts again at stage 1

How Does Mental Health Affect Behaviour?

  • mental illness can affect anyone—20% of Canadians will get it
  • psychology tries to understand these illnesses and find therapies and approaches to resolve the problems
  • there are two types of mental health: psychotic and neurotic


Psychotic Disorders

  • a severe mental disorder characterized by a break from reality
  • involves hallucinations, delusions and it impairs the sufferer’s ability to cope socially, academically, or in life
  • ex: schizophrenia—involves delusions disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions
  • those who live in urban areas are more likely to have a psychosis (due to poverty and poor social cohesion; city life is more stressed and aggravates existing mental issues)


Neurotic Disorders

  • an emotional disorder that can have physical, mental, or physiological symptoms
  • a person with this disorder can think rationally and function socially
  • phobias (anxiety about a specific object, activity, or situation)
    • ex: fear of spiders doesn’t stop you from functioning normally
    • can cause physiological symptoms like sweating or increased heart rate when exposed to phobia
  • neurotic disorders are either caused by learned or biologically based
    • learned: you learn that airplanes can crash; therefore you can develop a fear of flying
    • biological—attributed to genes
  • treatment includes cognitive behavioural therapy, drugs, psychotherapy etc.


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the reliving of traumatic events through flashbacks and nightmares
  • can commonly lead to insomnia and depression, and can result in increased aggression; also commonly found with alcohol abuse
  • was first known as shell shock (when soldiers returned from WWI); after Vietnam War became PTSD and a mental disorder
  • typically experienced by war veterans; however it can be experienced by anyone who undergoes a traumatic event
  • treatment for PTSD:
    • cognitive behavioural therapy
    • medication
    • group therapy (for mild and moderate symptoms only)
    • exposure therapy (commonly used in military): a person retells the traumatic event in detail again and again until the stress is reduced when they retell it
  • after a traumatic event (hurricane, rape), an approach is critical incident stress debriefing where people are encouraged to talk about their feelings immediately after the trauma
    • however, it`s shown this increases chances of PTSD as people are given enough time to naturally process all emotions
  • virtual therapy is being tested with American veterans of Iraq—a form of exposure therapy where the veteran enters a 3D virtual simulation of combat, providing hands on experience similar to what the veterans experienced in combat
    • hope that virtual experience will help them work through their combat trauma


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • a type of developmental disorder characterized by inattention, impulsiveness, and over activity
  • problem is based in the brain but affects how a person acts—inattention, impulsiveness, over activity (usually beginning at age 7)
  • twice as more boys get it than girls
  • symptoms include: procrastination, accident proneness, boredom, nervous energy, inability to finish projects
  • there is no `test` for ADHD—is diagnosed by psychologist or psychiatrist
  • children with ADHD have slower cognitive and thinking skills (these skills are key to managing and regulating behaviour and performing the tasks necessary for academic success—memorizing facts, remembering homework, completing projects, being on time, finishing work etc.)
  • ADHD kids are more creative and link various ideas together, and looking at the big picture
  • ADHD can be caused by a mother who smokes or drinks during pregnancy; can be genetic
  • medication is used to treat symptoms; therapy involving behavioural interventions.

New Research in Mental Health

  • understanding of mental issues have greatly expanded over last century


Nature-Deficit Disorder

  • a lack of nature in a child`s life leads to obesity, attention deficit disorders (ADHD), and depression
  • spending time outdoors is important to our mental and physical well being
  • disorder increases as people have less access to the natural world
  • studies show kids with ADHD are calmer in natural environments


Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

  • aka sensory integration disorder and sensory integration dysfunction
  • a disorder in the processing of sensory information (typically occurs in boys)
  • not yet identified as a disorder, but people with SPD have difficulty taking in or interpreting the inputs from the 5 senses
    • impairs a person`s daily function—object to new foods, dislike loud noises, shay away from cuddling etc.
  • can cause low self-esteem and difficulty with relationships to behaviour and learning problems
  • disorder is diagnosed using the `Sensory Integration and Prazis Test`
    • because it isn`t recognized as a disorder, lack of funding, and many don`t take it seriously
  • one strategy that helps is using sensory integration activities—as child`s neurological systems develop, they do fun activities with objects that cause them difficulty



  • affects 40% of Canadians
  • is an indication of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • compulsive hoarding is the excessive collecting of items and not being able to throw them away (causes cluttered home and the house is hard to navigate because there`s so much stuff)
    • people become emotionally attached to their items, and find it scary when asked to throw them away
    • can be hazardous—rodents, mould can grow; fire hazard
    • known to end marriages and alienate friends
  • most hoarders don`t recognize their behaviour as problematic
    • many don`t seek help until they`re threatened with eviction, divorce, or a cleanup order from the Health Dept.
  • cyberpsychology can help hoarders (a new field of psychology that studies the influences of technology on people and the ways it can be used to treat mental illness)
    • a virtual home of their junk is shown to the hoarders; the hoarders practice throwing away junk
    • eventually people are able to move away from the computer to doing it in their own home