Behaviour individuals can be compared because it assumes

Behaviour has been a phenomenon studied
extensively by many and can be defined in numerous ways, some very general and
vague. However, as scientists, precise definitions are needed to suitably
understand issues to be able to apply and measure them effectively. Behaviour can
be viewed not only as actions we see, but also as what we failed to see.
Behaviour can also be voluntary or involuntary and is influenced by both
internal or external factors. Starr and Taggart published a definition for
behaviour in 1992, ‘A response to external and internal stimuli, following
integration of sensory, neural, endocrine, and effector components. Behaviour
has a genetic basis, hence is subject to natural selection, and it commonly can
be modified through experience’ (Levitis, Lidicker
and Freund, 2009). This definition indicates the complexity of behaviour and
the combination of various factors that produce it. In response to Marvin
Bowe’s statement, this essay will aim to discuss and deliberate whether people
should be judged on their performance or internal factors, by focusing on what
can be understood both through examining behaviour independently and comparing
it to what can be understood from internal factors. I think people should be
judged on a range of different things as behaviour can be affected by various
factors and are not always consistent.

Personality is ‘the dynamic organisation within
the individual of those psychophysical systems that determine his
characteristics behaviour and though’
(Simplypsychology.org,
2018). Personality is unique for each individual as it reflects the experiences
and environment a person has developed within. The idiographic approach to
personality focuses on the uniqueness of individuals as it assumes each person
has a unique personality structure. On the other hand, the nomothetic approach
states ‘we all have a number of traits in common, and we differ only in the
amount of each trait we posses’ (Sagepub.com, 2008). It concentrates on how
individuals can be compared because it assumes that different personality
traits mean the same thing for everyone, so individuals can be placed within
personality variables.

Caspi et al 2003 conducted a longitudinal study
to investigate whether children’s behavioural styles are linked to their
personality as adults. They tested the temperament types of over one thousand
three-year olds through observation and rated them on 22 behavioural
characteristics. They were then able to recognise five types of children: the
well-adjusted who could have self-control when needed, didn’t become upset in
new situations and were sufficiently confident. The under controlled children
‘were impulsive, restless, negativistic, distractible, and labile in their
emotional responses’. The confident type quickly adjusted in different situations
and were eager to explore the testing material, were not concerned about the
location of their caregiver and were slightly impulsive and very friendly. The
inhibited children ‘were socially reticent, fearful, and easily upset by the
examiner’ and the last category of ‘reserved children’ were timid and
uncomfortable about being tested but their shyness and caution was not extreme
and so the task was not affected. When the participants were 26 they had
several interviews and examinations, they completed the Multidimensional
Personality Questionnaire which gave a profile of 10 distinct personality
traits that reflect three super factors of personality. The study demonstrated
that personality is established as a child and doesn’t change; therefore, it
would make sense to judge a person on their personality as it reflects who they
are. This provides empirical support of personality being a good indication of
a person, in the study the scales were correlated with informant reports which
further confirmed that they were accurate representations.

Personality and personality traits can help to
understand behaviour which allows behaviour to be predicted. Ulleberg and
Rundmo (2003) aimed to examine how important personality traits are in
influencing risk related behaviour in drivers. They carried out a
self-completion questionnaire survey on adolescents in Norway. The participants
were tested on personality traits that have a significant relationship with
risk taking behaviour in traffic such as sensation taking. Their risk
perception was also tested by two 1-7 scales, an attitude scale measured their
risk-taking attitudes related to driving and three behavioural scales were used
as a self-report measure. The personality traits were significantly correlated
to the participants perceptions of risk for example ‘Altruistic
and anxious individuals tended to perceive the risk related to traffic
accidents as high, as well as having a positive attitude towards traffic
safety’. The results indicate that personality influences behaviour through
affecting the behaviour’s attitude factors and personality traits have an
indirect effect on behaviour. Therefore, as the nomothetic approach states
depending on the group of personality traits an individual can be placed in
their behaviours can be predicted.

On the other hand, it is credible to judge a person
based on their behaviour alone as behaviour can be observed then described
because it can be measured objectively unlike personality. Behaviour initiates
performance as it is what you do in comparison to personality being who you are.
Personality may influence behaviour, but behaviour is the action taken in
situations. In certain circumstances performance must be judged alone for
example in sportspeople and other professions that have clear criteria on being
successful or failing because there are specific things that are necessary to
do the job effectively. For example, in medicine doctors must be judged on the
basis of their performance this includes assessing mortality rates, readmission
of patients, the quality of the information on discharge forms which reflect the
quality of care and the length of stay (Nguyen et al., 2014). Therefore, to be
successful in the role, we need to know the behaviour that is required by the
role, thus personality in this context will have no benefit in understanding
the behaviour.

Examining behaviour by itself however is
inadequate, the Social Learning theory proposed by Bandura states the
environment has a role in influencing the behaviour produced due to the process
of observational learning. Bandura et al 1963 carried out a lab experiment to
investigate if aggressive behaviour was reinforced through observing aggressive
behaviour. 72 children aged three to five were split into three conditions, two
of the groups had a role model and the third was a control group. They were
then further split into gender groups to match the gender of their role models.
The children observed their models in a room with various toys including a Bobo
doll, after they went into the room. Those that had witnessed their models
being aggressive resembled the behaviour by producing a significant amount of
physical and verbal aggressive behaviour, the non-aggressive group did not
produce aggressive behaviour towards the doll. The boys imitated more
physically aggressive behaviour than girls imitating their male models. This
illustrates the aggressive behaviour was learned through observation and cannot
be used as an accurate way to judge a person as the performance of the children
is not related to them as individuals whereas studying their personality may
provide better insight into who they are.

Likewise, the deindividuation theory provides
further evidence as to why behaviour itself cannot be used as judgement of an
individual. The theory states the presence and size of a group can cause social
arousal and physical anonymity in a person resulting in their self-awareness
decreasing. Their normal inhibitions which would be an accurate representation
of them is lost and replaced with them becoming increasingly responsive to
situational cues, so they pay more attention to external factors over internal
factors. Deindividuation can be caused by a large group size, not being
responsible for their behaviour, how anonymous the individual is and a strong
collective identity. Zimbardo et al., 1973 carried out a prison experiment that
aimed to test how willingly people would conform to the roles they were given.
He was interested in whether the brutality inflicted by prison guards was due
to the personalities of the guards (dispositional) or the prison environment
(situational). Participants were male college students who were screened for
psychological normality then randomly assigned to be a guard or prisoner. They
ensured the simulation was kept as close to real life as possible; prisoners
were treated like normal criminals, by being arrested in their homes, taken to
the police station, fingerprinted, photographed and booked. They were
de-individuated as soon as they got to the prison, prisoners were given prison
clothes bedding and a number they would be referred by and the guards were
given a uniform, whistles, handcuffs, dark reflective glasses making eye
contacts impossible. Participants were then observed, both prisoners and guards
settled into their roles then the guards started to harass the prisoners
behaving brutally and sadistically. The participants behaved in ways they
normally wouldn’t because they had lost their self-identity and had become
their roles. At that end of the study when Zimbardo told a participant who they
were they became themselves again.’ “you are not #819. You are his name,
and my name is Dr. Zimbardo. I am a psychologist… this is not a real prison.
This is just an experiment” He stopped crying suddenly, looked up and
replied, “Okay, let’s go, “as if nothing had been wrong.’  (McLeod, 2017). This reveals the
inaccurate representation the behaviour provides as all the behaviour was
caused by conforming to the social roles. The study highlights that it would be
naïve judging the behaviour alone as humans have a ‘good/evil’ dichotomy which
emphasizes the influence of dispositional factors on behaviour.

Similarly, stereotypes have been recognised as influencing
behaviour. Stereotype threat ‘is defined as a situational predicament in which
individuals are at risk of confirming negative stereotypes about their group’ (Inzlicht
and Schmader, 2011). The stereotypes are usually social perceptions of
individuals who belong to a certain group or have certain physical
characteristics. Steele and Aronson (1995) examined the role and effect of the
stereotypes on intellectual test performance of African Americans. In the first
study, black and white college students were given a 30-minute test and in one
condition they were told the test was testing intellectual ability which
highlighted the racial stereotype of the black participants’ ability. In the
other condition participants were told it was a problem-solving task to make
the stereotype irrelevant to participants. They found that the black
participants performed worse than the white participants when test was said to
be measuring ability but performed drastically better and matching the
performance of the white participants when the test was presented as problem
solving. These results illustrate the unreliability of performance as
participants were able to dramatically improve on the same test by not knowing
about the stereotype. In this situation it would be unfair to judge the people
in the first condition by their performance as it does not realistically
reflect their ability. If a person is judged on their performance several
factors should be taken into consideration: if the negative performance is
expected in the setting, if the person is the only representative of the
stereotyped group because this can create pressure on the person as they feel
responsibility for their whole group and whether they are performing in front
of people who believe in the stereotype for example if they are racist or
sexist. These factors may lead to the self-fulfilling prophecy.

When attempting to understand behaviour, the
behaviour itself can be examined or the internal factors can be taken into
consideration to understand the behaviour better. In relation to Bowe’s
statement, the above findings suggest that a person cannot be judged on
behaviour alone or their internal factors alone. Personality is studied to
understand the individual differences between people therefore when people are
judged I believe a range of factors should be considered to achieve a holistic
understanding of the person. Behaviour is a complicated phenomenon therefore performance
can be attributed to personality which is determined as a child, social
influences which may or may not reflect the values of the individual, or both.