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Behavior can be defined as the dynamics of a system or organism in relation to the environment surrounding it or other organisms and/or systems. Normal behavior refers to lack of deviation from what is generally accepted as average. Normal behavior may also mean conforming or subscribing to a particular standard or to a predominant behavior in society, what is normally referred to as societal norms. Norms are the specific standards or ways in which people are expected to act or paradigms for predictable and expected behavior in society.
Human behavior can be tolerable, common, unusual, acceptable, or unacceptable. Evaluation of acceptable behavior in society is done with the help of well defined societal norms and regulates behavior by means of social control. Deviation from these norms is usually considered abnormal behavior. Norms are contextual because they are not universal, what is considered a norm here may be not apply in other areas. Abnormal or abnormality may also refer to behavior that is not typical. In the practice of psychology, abnormal has come to refer to mental illness.
Society does influence what is regarded as normal or abnormal behavior. This can be done through passing laws through government institutions, creating certain punishments for certain ‘abnormal’ or ‘antisocial’ behavior or by following traditions in a given society. (Visser 1991) states that many traditions are rituals and are conducted in order for everyone to behave in socially acceptable ways. In most societies, there is what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ based on the norms of that particular society. A good example of this particular in this scenario is the controversial topic of same sex relationships sometimes referred to as gay behavior. In some societies, this kind of relationship or behavior is not tolerated and is not acceptable because they are considered a deviation from what is generally accepted (normal). Some societies have learnt to accept this kind behavior and hence have taken it to be normal. Still, some societies or social groupings are yet to accept same sex relationship. This, to me, is a classic example of how a society can influence behavior, or how society does influence behavior (normal or abnormal).
Sometimes attitudes affect our behavior and sometimes they don’t. Attitude is all about a person’s inner thoughts or perceptions, while behavior is usually an outward expression of a particular inner thought. It is expected that all things in the mind should concur/agree with one another, though this might not be the case at all times. When there are two conflicting thoughts in the mind, dissonance is said to occur. Dissonance may occur, for instance, when a friend doesn’t like an event that you enjoy. The friends, being good in the mind; so is the event, but these two good things are not related because your friend does not like the event; a conflict of interest occurs referred to as dissonance. Changing an opinion or behavior to one of the items, may help resolve this conflict and hence doing away with the resonance.
Attitude can be influenced by society. A society can be viewed as people related to each other through some kind of relation or by having something in common (such as social status, roles or social networks). Every society has different facets and setups that are in interplay with each other. In most societies, there exist the mass media, a political or ruling class and other organizations that facilitate or are tasked to ensure that proper social standards are upheld or that social norms are followed. These organizations sometimes are responsible for influencing to a larger or small extent the attitudes of the societies in question. The mass media stands out as a unique feature in modern society; arguably and rightly so, its development has led to an increase in the volume and complexity of societal actions and engagements, escalating social change, increased technological innovation and the reduction of some conventional forms of control and authority. The exact association between the development of mass media and the social change brought forth is still a subject of intense debate even after several studies into this relationship. Most of the effects that the media has been attributed to are almost certainly due to other trends within society and not exclusively contributed by or related to the media. In other words, it is not only the mass media that is solely responsible for all the emerging tendencies as pertains to behavior change.
Abnormal behavior is behavior that is socially unacceptable, distressing, maladaptive (or self-defeating), and often the result of distorted thoughts. Psychology studies are majorly concerned with mind and behavior. The psychological study views abnormal behavior as the kind of behavior that largely deviates from the norms, be it statistical, social norms, maladaptive behavior or personal distress. Abnormal psychology is a theoretical field that has been tasked to study people's emotional, cognitive, and/or behavioral problems. Psychologists tend to look for “clinical” or medical explanations to conditions regarded as not normal. These include psychodynamic where there is a conflict within an individual, humanistic where a person does not accept the self as it is, behavioral that which pertains to what has been learned from the surroundings, cognitive which relates to perceptions of a particular person especially those perceptions that are not ‘normal’. Psycho-physiological is the abnormal occurrences in the nervous system.
Some abnormal behavior may be considered as disorders. This categorization is based on the underlying perspective that is used to describe the underlying abnormal behavior or disorder. The medical perspective focuses on biological and physiological factors as a cause of abnormal behavior, which is treated as a malady, or mental ailment, and can be diagnosed through symptoms and cured through treatment. An example of such kind of disorder is schizophrenia. The psychodynamic perspective contends that psychological disorders are the consequence of anxious produced by unresolved, unconscious conflicts. Most remedies focus on identification and resolution of these conflicts.
The behavioral perspective contends that abnormal behavior results from faulty or ineffective learning and conditioning, to treat such kind of abnormalities, efforts are made to redesign and reshape disordered behavior and, use traditional learning methods, teaching new, appropriate and more adaptive responses. The cognitive perspective argues that people engage in abnormal behavior because some thoughts and behaviors are often based upon their false assumptions and shortcomings emanating from their thoughts. Treatments are oriented towards helping the individuals to develop new thinking processes and new values. Therapy is used to help in unlearning maladaptive behavior. Lastly, the social-cultural perspective is of the view that abnormal behavior is learned from a particular social contexts ranging from the family, community to the culture.
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