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The Concept of Social Behavior Explained in a Lucid Manner

Neha Gohad Apr 19, 2019
Social psychology is a relational behavioral science which is based on 'social actions'; acts of an individual pertaining to the behavior of society members. Social behavior is a concept defined in social psychology as an individual's conduct towards members of the same society.

Is it genetic or learned?

According to statistical tests, tendency to be antisocial is a result of both genetic and environmental factors. But the only influence on altruistic or prosocial behavior was found to be environmental.
"We will rock you" is a popular song by Queen, which blares out of speakers at college concerts and art and music fests has the crowd singing in unison. The song which depicts revolutionaries singing that they will bring down the emperor has the swarm clapping and stomping the drum beat.
'Mob mentality' or 'bandwagon effect' are the terms that pop up in our mind when we are at such gatherings. These are terms in social psychology related to 'social behavior'.
This is basically what people do to adhere to the norms of society. Though we may not necessarily like what we have been brought up to believe, people tend to emulate others around. Just the way kids grow up aping their elder siblings, having the same tastes in music and fashion. Now, let us take a closer look at the two perspectives of social behavior.

Antisocial Behavior or Aggression

Aggression can be physical or verbal violence. Based on the 'cognitive theory of aggression', it can be defined as any action intended to harm others. The theory states that children emulate their role models in interpreting the outcome of their actions.
Aggression can be impulsive, predatory (revengeful), or instrumental (bullying). There are two approaches to aggression. Some theorists put forth the concept that aggression is innate and based on Darwin's theory of natural selection (survival of the fittest).
Others argued that it is a learned behavior. Those who believe that aggression is an innate drive state that a release of energy called 'catharsis' would alleviate aggression. For example, channel or divert aggression into appropriate activities like sports instead of war. But then it was argued that this would lead to more aggressive behavior.
According to 'social learning theory', exposure to violence through media, such as TV and video games, leads to an increase in aggression in children. A few examples of antisocial behavior are littering, bullying, alcoholism, violence, racism, sexism, scapegoating, shyness, etc.

Prosocial Behavior

Helping a person in distress, empathy, and making amends for wrongdoings are examples of 'altruism', which is prosocial behavior. At a basic level, it is argued whether altruism even exists, i.e., will anyone help someone if there isn't any gain. 'Kin altruism' is a theory in which only genetically related people are helped.
The 'social exchange theory' suggests that altruism involves perceived gains―social rather than genetic. Empathy-induced altruism is considered genuinely selfless. The 'bystander effect' states that people in a group are less likely to help someone than when they are alone.
It is a result of pluralistic ignorance, social inhibition, diffusion of responsibility, and deindividuation. Prosocial behavior is subject to the positive mood of the altruist. It is a result of both egoistic and altruistic motivations. Internal moral reasoning, social responsibility, empathy, and reputation benefits lead to prosocial behavior.
A few examples of prosocial behavior are helping, volunteering, philanthropy, sharing, co-operation, etc. 'The helper's high' is the virtuous cycle of helping others, doing good, and subsequently feeling good.
Personality studies focus on the person, while social behavior studies focus on the situation. The 'Big Five' personality traits include openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, extroversion, and neuroticism.

Examples of Social Behavior

Divorce was considered socially unacceptable a mere 30-40 years ago, whereas today, it is more accepted.

Two cyclists bumping into each other and then having an argument is any example of social behavior.
● Another classic example of social behavior is peer pressure. It might influence someone to start smoking.

● Communication between members of the same species exemplifies social behavior.

Social Behavior in Animals

The sociality in animals is classified as eusocial, prosocial, subsocial, and parasocial. Eusocial animals display the highest level of social organization with overlap of adult generations, reproductive division of labor and co-operative care of young.
Prosocial animals do not display all these characteristics but just one or two of them. Subsocial is when parents interact with the young, while parasocial is when all generations live in the same dwelling and interact.
Starlings fly in a synchronized formation.

Dolphins surround a school of fish and take turns darting at the center.

A domestic dog is loyal to its owner.
● Vampire bats bring swallowed blood up to the mouth to share with a fellow bat who has been unable to find food. This is called reciprocal altruism.

● Bonobos aid injured or handicapped bonobos.
Thus, all social animals display social behavior, which forms the crux of their social life.