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Biological Explanations of Human Behavior

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Biological Explanations of Human Behavior



Biological Explanations of Human Behavior

Thinking is a normal process that all humans undergo, and it helps in various cognitive processes such as decision making and resolution of environmental challenges. Critical thinking takes different stages and processes, which are explained differently based on different conceptual frameworks, which define the human thought process. There are varying perspectives, which can be used to analyze and review human thinking. The biological perspective is one among the most popular perspectives and conceptual frameworks. The perspective defines human behavior and thought through biological explanations. The biological perspective holds that a person’s behavior and thought processes are a product of different biological factors such the genetic make-up, neurological brain and endocrinal functions as well as evolutionary functions (Kassin, 2003). According to this perspective human behavior is a result of biological processes, which should be treated in a scientific manner. The perspective holds that behavior is a pure result of biology, and as such it should be explained and determined biologically by biological scientific means. Common featured beliefs in the perspective include heredity and evolution. This perspective holds that human behavior is inheritable and it also undergoes evolution with time to fit the person and his surroundings. From these believes there emerge three popular biological concepts of behavior, which include evolutionary psychology, behavioral neuroscience and behavioral genetics.

Evolutionary Psychology

Evolutionary psychology is one of the biological perspectives used to explain human behavior. Like in cognitive psychology, believers in evolutionary psychology believe that much or nearly all of human behaviors can be understood in relation to internally possessed psychological mechanisms. The only differentiating factor for evolutionary psychologists is the proposal that the relevant internal processes, which determine behavior, are adaptations. According to evolutionary psychologists the adaptations confer behavior, which is a product of natural selection (Kassin, 2003). Behavior therefore develops from adaptations that helped human ancestors to reproduce and survive in the world. Evolutionary psychology therefore seeks to identify and explain psychological traits, which develop out of evolutionary adaptations, which include sexual selection and natural selection (Kassin, 2003). Adaptations thought about physiology and its mechanisms, such as the immune and heart systems, are a common feature in evolutionary biology. In a similar manner evolutionary psychologists use similar thinking in relation to psychology, and they argue that the human mind consists of a modular structure, akin to that of the human anatomy, where different modular adaptations serve differing functionalities. Therefore, according to evolutionary psychologists, much of human behavior is the result of psychological adaptations, which have evolved through time to solve recurring problems within the human environment. This perspective thus holds that human experiences and every day’s recurrences are a significant element in determining behavior. It is thus expected that regularly recurrent happenings shape behavior significantly by developing specific behaviors that relate to the happenings. On the other hand, less recurrent happenings tend to get extinct or rather diminished because they are least experienced. Therefore, regular stimulation of certain neuronal activity leads to an in-built system adapted to dealing with similar situations. This may psychologically prove the theories on extinction of certain behaviors. The less recurrent certain happenings are, the more extinct the associated habits become.

The elevation or recurrent behaviors and extinction of less recurrent behavior seems a powerful prove in support of evolutionary psychology. However, it significantly fails in relation to some aspects such as in explaining aberrant behavior. There are certain aberrant behaviors such as homosexuality or aggression, which develop without there being a precedence of recurrence. The perspective fails to offer an explanation in relation to how such behaviors may develop even when they are not known to run in families or even at least without stimulatory exposure, which may lead to their development.

Behavioral Genetics

Behavioral genetics is one of the biological perspectives used to explain human behavior. The perspective is often associated with the ‘nurture’ versus ‘nature’ debate. The field of behavioral genetics evaluates the role of genetics in human and animal behavior (Kassin, 2003). This perspective is highly interdisciplinary and it involves contributions from epigenetics, genetics, biology, statistics, psychology and ethology. Behavioral geneticists generally believe that most behaviors, if not all, are inherited (Kassin, 2003). The inheritance of behavioral traits as believed implies that a person’s behavior is a result of pre-disposure to some genetically based traits, which are inherited at the genetic level. Studies on humans and the gathering of information are often carried out through the use of adoption studies or twin studies. In animal models of study gene knock out, transgenesis and breeding techniques are often employed as potential study paths (Kassin, 2003). There are a number of signs, which show that behavior is biologically based and these include the facts that behaviors are often specific to a certain species. For example, the behavior of chickadee birds is often different from Finches even when undertaking a common action such as feeding. Additionally behavior is often bred true, and thus proving that behavior is gene-based because of its ability to be reproduced in successive generations (Kassin, 2003). In humans it has been observed that some behaviors normally run within families. This can be exemplified by the clear familial aggregation of mental conditions. Relations across closely related relatives among different species also show that behaviors may be gene-based. For example, humans share a lot of behavioral characteristics with members of the chimpanzee family, whose DNA is different from humans by an estimated 2% (Kassin, 2003). The two species show common characteristics of being highly social, including showing altruism, cooperation and even showing a nurturing spirit. Due to this fact, closer genetic relation among the species or families that share genetic commonalities leads to higher chances of similarity in behavior between the related parties. This fairly explains the relations of behaviors that run in families and commonality of behaviors among species. Unlike the evolutionary perspective it fails to highlight the environmental aspect of recurrent happenings that may shape behavior.

Behaviour may indeed be gene based, but many people fail to grasp the reality that


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