Unit 2.2 Explanation of human behaviour

Unit 2.2 Explanation of human behaviour

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Explanation of human behaviour
Characteristics of human and social behaviour
We sometimes say that we carry out an action or behave 'instinctively'. Basically, 'instincts' are not
learned. They maybe inherited patterns of responses or reactions to certain types of stimuli, but
human beings have the ability to reason and instinctive behaviour is more likely to be observed
among animals, perhaps in rituals of courtship or fighting. In Darwin's theory of evolution, the
members of a species whose instinctive behaviour makes them most likely to compete
successfully will have improved chances of survival.
Early psychologists in the late nineteenth century tried to identify what they considered to be human
instincts, but as psychology developed in the twentieth century it became less common to use
instinct as a way of trying to explain human behaviour. By the 1960s no human behaviour appeared
to meet the sort of criteria that were being used to define instinct, although a few psychoanalysts
have tried to link instinct to what they consider to be human motivational forces, or instinctual
drives, such as sex and aggression. Others continue to argue that humans do not have any
instincts that cannot be overridden.
Ask the examiner
Q. What is free will?
A. The issue of free will has long been debated by philosophers, although most people are
convinced that they have free will. They feel they have the capacity, unique to humans, to control
their actions and to choose a particular course of action they do not feel they are coerced to take a
particular course of action. What this actually amounts to is far less clear. Perhaps the two key
questions are: In what sense are we able to act, or choose to act, freely?' and 'In what sense are
we able to be morally responsible for what we do?'
The link between free will and moral responsibility has obvious importance. Without free will
it would be difficult to claim that someone is morally responsible for a particular action. Particularly
in what many see as our 'blame culture', the issue of moral responsibility is very important. Of
course, it is possible for somebody to take a very bad action that amounts to a serious criminal
offence because they suffer from a mental illness that leads to `diminished responsibility'.
Similarly, there is the issue of the age of criminal responsibility -- the age at which the law
considers a child is old enough to know that the action he or she is taking is wrong and possibly

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Clearly, young children have only a limited grasp of right and wrong. In England the
law states that the age of criminal responsibility is ten, but this is contentious and the age is set
lower than in many European countries. Critics argue that ten is too young and that support for
children at that age is more appropriate than punishment.…read more

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The aim of the immediate postwar generation, many of whom had experienced the poverty of the
1930s, was security. In a sense, that was what marriage brought. During the Second World War
many more women than before worked and achieved some measure of economic independence.
They worked, though, while the men were away in the services.…read more

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Perhaps such a picture was an overromanticised generalisation based on stereotypes. There
must have been many exceptions to this pattern of family life, but it did not seem the case at the
time, and reading books were based on the structure of the tightly drawn 'nuclear' family outlined
above. With limited social and geographical mobility, the 'extended' family was also common, and
aunts, uncles and grandparents were drawn into the wider family structure.…read more

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According to a 2007 report by the ONS, there were 17.1 million families of all types in the UK in
2006. Using detailed government data on family life, the report, titled Focus on Families, gave these
statistics for the period 19962006:
The number of marriedcouple families fell by 4% to just over 12 million.…read more

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Beveridge's 'five giants' -- want, squalor,
disease, ignorance and idleness -- are just as relevant.
A 2007 report by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) placed the UK at the bottom of a
table that sought to assess the wellbeing of a nation's children. This could not necessarily be
attributed to the UK's high rate of singleparent families.…read more

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Politicians usually like to be seen as promoters of marriage, and even David Cameron, the
'modernising' leader of the Conservative Party, has made it clear that he is a traditionalist on the
subject of marriage. When addressing Conservatives, he referred to marriage as 'a great institution'
while emphasising his view that if divorce rates came down and more people stayed together as
man and wife society would be better.…read more

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Another problem is the reduction in the time that working mothers can devote
to their children. The reality, according to the pressure group One Parent Families, is that most lone
parents with older children are working. However, there are threats that lone parents may lose
some of their benefits unless they look for work once their youngest child reaches the age of 12
instead of the present age of 16.…read more

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Britain was near the bottom of the rankings for material wellbeing. When it came to the
proportion of children living in households where the income was less than 50% of the
national average, only the USA was below Britain.
British children did reasonably well on assessments of reading, maths and science, but the
country had a poor record on the number of those remaining in education or training beyond
the age of 16.…read more

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Critics say that our laws were framed in a
different age and that the reasons for marriage breakdown are complex. If couples try to maintain a
marriage that has effectively broken down this is not good for their physical or mental health or that
of their children.
Ask the examiner
Q. Is divorce too easy today?
A. Legally, divorce is easier to obtain and it can be argued that people enter into marriage too easily
and are not sufficiently committed to making it work.…read more


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