The Recipe for Behaviors

19 Feb 2021 1:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

How we feel, think, and behave can vastly differ from others in society. We experience this every single day, even when we interact with people online. Being highly evolved mammals, we do share a set of personality traits, but other than that, one person is entirely different from the other. Understanding our personalities can be a great exercise towards bettering our lives, but understanding others' can be even more rewarding. Unlocking the psychological mysteries that shape our personalities is not only a fascinating endeavor but also helps us create an understanding and empathetic society. In this article, we attempt to lift the veil slightly and set you on a path of further studies and ponder. We will also focus here on intrinsic personality characteristics. Our behaviors are entwined with so many external factors and variables that it is often challenging to separate one factor from the other. Therefore the study of psychological characteristics can be challenging and rewarding at the same time.

Psychology of Personality

According to psychologists, 'Personality' refers to a set of psychological characteristics or traits that defines how we interact with the world around us. All of us have a distinct yet effective and stable way of responding to external situations and stimuli. While none of us behave the same way all the time, if we observe our behaviors and responses over a long period, specific patterns seem to emerge.

Stable and socially well-adjusted people can change or model their personalities according to the demands of a situation. We exhibit different personas depending on the situation. For instance, our social persona might be different from our work personal. And we will probably exhibit different behaviors when we're stressed.

Despite differences in how we perceive and respond to things, we have certain tendencies in terms of how we view certain events or actions, what motivates us, how to handle different emotions, and how we behave under certain situations. Some of these tendencies are common and shared between virtually all human beings across the globe. But to get a complete picture of your personality, it is paramount to understand those that are part of basic human nature.

Apart from the common traits, many other characteristics differentiate us. Whether you are a morning or an evening person, your choice when it comes to attending a party or staying at home, and whether you are quiet or talkative all contribute to the kind of person you are and how you lead your life. Despite those differences seeming to be inconsequential, their influence creates many significant differences in the lives of individuals, which is why psychologists study the differences in peoples' thoughts, values, preferences, behaviors, actions, and emotions.

To understand someone's behavior, it is important to be aware of their psychological traits along with the demands of their situation. Regardless of the situation, our complex set of psychological characteristics always accompany us. These include our belief, traits, thoughts, preferences, values, emotions, and motivations, prime us to respond in specific ways.

Based on the situation, your psychological traits trigger responses; however, your actual behavior will depend upon your level of emotional intelligence. You will act based on the social situation, your role in that situation, other people present, their relationships with you and each other, whether your actions are appropriate or not in the context of the situation. All this information is factored in before ascertaining whether you will be welcomed or shunned.

Personality psychology focuses on the inner psychological characteristics and mechanisms. Social psychology focuses on the social context and demands behind a behavior. Our curiosity, values, and preferences often take us to new experiences where certain social stimuli prompt a response that we have never encountered before. Experiencing how we feel in new situations is the reason that we are ever-changing.

Psychology as a Science

Psychology does not snugly fit the conventional notion of scientific disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and biology. One of the primary reasons behind this is the sheer volume of factors psychological researchers must deal with in each study. The science of psychology must deal with the ambiguity of several factors being in play at any given moment. And even when separated, many of them are difficult to measure accurately and study. Unlike chemical compounds that always have the same molecular structures or physical events where the same laws of physics work every time, when psychologists deal with a person, they are working with a complex set of personality traits modeled by years of internal and external influences that cannot be isolated, understood or measured fully.

But that does not immediately diminish psychology as a science. Psychological studies are based on scientific principles where subjects are carefully and systematically studied to arrive at science-based conclusions. Via these studies, we have understood a great deal about human personality mechanisms and the psychological processes that take place inside a human brain. It is now possible to predict how a person would behave under certain predesigned situations. But error rates are significantly higher than other disciplines due to people being vastly different from one another and their thought processes and personalities changing constantly.

Due to these factors, psychological science is fundamentally probabilistic, much like weather forecasting. Meteorologists try to understand a dynamic, ever-changing system that interacts with each other and try to come up with a model to predict near-future events. Via decades of studies and advances, it is more accurate than ever before but still with significant errors.

Influenced by Proportions of Variables

There is an ongoing debate as to the amount of influence each personality factor has on our behaviors. Some psychological researchers claim that the social context or pressure is the primary influence, and others suggest that individual personality traits are at the helm. But the current consensus is that it depends on the situation. For example, imagine a fine dining restaurant. There are social pressures of behaving in a certain way in a restaurant. Hence everyone behaves similarly. On the other hand, on a beach, you see all sorts of people doing different things and interacting differently because the social pressure is less.

How a person responds to a social demand is also a personality trait. Some people are more flexible in adhering to the current social context, while others mostly rely on their personality characteristics to behave in a specific situation.

To identify which factor is more critical in determining our responses, scientists use statistical analysis. In studies called the variability of proportions, scientists take emotion and calculate its variability to determine whether the personality traits or social demands were the causes of that emotion. When we take an emotion like anger, we see some people who seldom get angry and others get angry regularly. This gives us a variability that ranges, let's say, from 0 to 100%. Studies have observed that the proportion of variability for emotions such as anger is close to equal for internal and external influencers. This means our behaviors are equally influenced by external social situations and inner personality.

Situational and Personality Factors Work in Conjunction

Situation and personality are more complex. In most cases, one factor can't exist without the other also influencing the outcome. Several studies have observed that people respond differently to the same situational factors eliciting completely different issues. This means that both situational and personality factors are at play at any given time.

A pertinent study was concerned with teenage delinquency. Two significant factors behind juvenile delinquency are assumed to be growing up in a poor crime-ridden social environment and adolescent impulsiveness. Impulsive teenagers are more prone to commit crimes, and kids who grow up in poor neighborhoods littered with criminals. But the study observed that impulsiveness did not factor much in delinquency when it came to more desirable neighborhoods. A more impoverished neighborhood contributed more to delinquency but only with impulsive kids. This is a classic example of personal and social factors working in conjunction because the social stimuli of living in a poor neighborhood affected only the kids with a particular personality trait. Non-impulsive kids did not respond similarly, even under similar social pressure. Given the difficulty of isolating one factor from the other, scientists must study and consider both influences to paint a clearer picture.

About the Talent Transformation Guild

The Talent Transformation Guild provides resources for professionals that are preparing for upskilling being triggered by 4th industrial revolution and accelerated by Covid-19. Members include c-level executives, human resource professionals, consultants, and coaches. As a member-driven organization it promotes best practices via webcasts, webinars, podcasts, articles, white papers, research and conversations to improve and make the best of the talents of individuals for the benefit of themselves and the organisations they work for.

The Guild enable stimulating and meaningful discussions to help professionals prepare for talent transformations at individual, team and organizational levels. The Guild supports the Talent Transformation Pyramid, an open source model, designed specifically to recognize the widest possible range of talent influencers and skills. To date many decision-makers are caught in traditional, linear thinking and immediate concerns to consider this. The Talent Transformation Pyramid enables you to address the challenge by promoting more strategic thinking with a focus on an organization’s readiness to perform.

About the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum, new and emerging technologies are affecting our lives in ways that indicate we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. This new era will build and extend the impact of digitization in new and unimaginable ways. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving new capabilities for people and machines. This will see new ways for technology to become embedded within societies and even our bodies.

With process automation, robotic automation, the internet of things the nature of work will change. Some analysts predict that more than 40% of tasks currently performed by humans will be delegated to machines. This does not mean that 40% of people will be put out of work but it does mean that most workers will have to upskill. HR experts are predicting this will dramatically change the landscape of our workforce.

About the Guild's Founders

Eric Shepherd an accomplished leader of international businesses and associations focused on talent, assessments, and success. Eric recently stepped away from a CEO role where he worked to build a SaaS company into a multi-million-dollar international assessment software business. Eric has also led industry and standards initiatives to promote best practices for assessments, learning, and interoperability. He currently serves as Chair of the IEEE P1484.20.2 working group developing Recommended Practice for Defining Competencies. Eric has previously served on Boards and working groups for:

  • HR Open Standards that defines interoperability standards for HR technology.
  • Association of Test Publishers and the European Association of Test Publishers that represents providers of tests and assessment tools.
  • The IEEE P1484.20.1 Standard for Learning Technology—Data Model for Reusable Competency Definitions working group.
  • IMS which defines interoperability standards for educational technology. 

Eric was instrumental in developing the IMS QTI interoperability standard and assisted with the US Department of Defense Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative to define the Sharable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) and the Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee (AICC) to define launch and track standards for Learning Management Systems.

Martin Belton has provided marketing solutions to organizations supplying HR and Learning solutions throughout Europe. After working with some of the UK’s leading PR Consultancies, he joined Questionmark where he was Sales and Marketing Director working alongside Talent Transformation’s co-founder Eric Shepherd. He was also Sales & Marketing Director at Kallidus (formerly e2train) for seven years before working as a marketing consultant to organizations supplying talent and learning systems including Netex and Saba. Most recently Martin has organized the eLearning Network Annual conference and exhibition.

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