Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Behavior, Psychology, Cognition, Sociology, Environment, Brain, Control, Affect

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/12


Behavior is a person’s response to stimuli. The response can be voluntary or involuntary, conscious and subconscious. Social behavior is responding towards other people. According to the social behavior one demonstrates, he or she gets perceived as a morally behaving person, logical, or malicious. Social behavior is mediated by the environment, biology and cognition. Past research carried out by other scholars, is used to test whether social behavior is influenced by either cognition, environment or genes. The paper will analyze under what circumstances is environment capable of mediating social behavior. In other words, is it possible that social behavior can be guided by the environment? Furthermore, we will answer the question, does cognitive mechanism mediate social behavior? Cognitive mechanism is the mental process of knowing, including perception, awareness, reasoning, and judgment. Moreover, it will answer the question, does biology mediate social behavior, in other words, whether neural structures guide the expressions of a particular behavior?


An environment automatically directs a normative behavior. An environment activates the mental representation of normative behavior and the behavior itself. Environments vary with situations giving rise to situational norms. Situational norms are the behaviors that people portray in a certain situation and environment. According to the present research, in social behavior, an environment can automatically trigger mental representations of normative behavior, as well as the behavior itself (Aarts & Dijksterhuis, 2003). In his experiments, participants were exposed to pictures of two different environments. The effects on approachability of images of normative behavior and actual behavior were weighed. Results indicated that illustrations of behavior and actual behavior itself are automated when;
(a) strong connections between normative behavior and environment are established and; (b) the objectives to visit the environment are active.

Testing the hypothesis

Experiments were carried out to investigate the processes underlying the role of situational norms in guiding social behavior. Questions addressed were; “Is the activation of a symbolic representation of an environment enough to activate the mental representatives of social behavior?” “Do the behaviors shown overwrite the expected behavior?” “Are the effects dependent on the associative strength between environment and normative behavior?”

Design and method

Aart and Dijksterhuis (2003), used two samples of undergraduate students. A sample size of 66 was in the first group and the second group had a sample size of 62. They were shown a picture of a library and an exclusive restaurant respectively. They answered questions regarding the set-up or the environment displayed in the picture. A question was used to measure the frequency of past visits to libraries. The question that assessed this was “How often do you visit the set up in the picture?” the response was on the scale of 1(never) to 10(very often). Attitude towards being in a silent place was measured using a one bipolar 10-point item having a range or 1(bad) to 10(very good). Subjective norm analysis was as the degree to which one believes other people should demonstrate a particular behavior in a certain environment. Descriptive norm was operationalized by asking the sample to what extent they believe that other people were silent in the library. The question that assess social behavior was to what extent do you observe silence when visiting the library. The response was weighed on a 10-point scale varying from never (1) to (10).


The participants were regular visitors to the library compared to the restaurant. The display of attitudes, beliefs, subjective norms, descriptive norms, and experience depended on the environment. Subjective norm and the descriptive norm correlated significantly with behavioral measures. In short, social behavior is mediated by the environment since the participants based their results on situational norms.

Social behavior mediated by cognition

Article rationale
Human cognition occurs outside the conscious control. Implicit social cognition describes cognitive processes that occur outside of the continuous control in relation to attitude, self-concepts, and stereotypes. The article focuses on the question whether behaviors tend to be more under cognitive control across people. The article informs us that cognition is important as a primary determinant of intentions or a particular behavior. Behavioral flexibility is increased by cognition. The article compares cognition to affect (environment) in mediating social behavior.
The questions addressed were whether affect or cognition was a better mediator of social behaviors or intentions. Subsamples were analyzed for cognition to determine whether a person’s personality or a type of behavior contributed to between-participants beta-weights.


The sample consisted of 87 undergraduate participants (students) from North American University. The group was blind to the purpose of the study. The participants were asked to generate behaviors at random. The participants also responded to questions measuring their intentions to generate these behaviors. For example, on a question concerning intention, the response was measured on the scale ranging from extremely not intended (-3) to extremely intended (3) such as keeping a room clean. Cognition was measured on a scale of -3(extremely foolish) to 3 (extremely wise). These were valid measures of cognition. Between-participants analysis of behaviors across all the participants and within-participants analysis on each participant across all the behaviors was carried out.


Between-participants analysis
The test showed the intention was moderately predicted by affect and cognition. Some behaviors were mediated more by affect than by cognition.

Within-participants analysis

The mediation of behaviors from affect and cognition were much better than for between-participants analysis. The results showed that affect and cognition were good mediators of social behaviors.

Separate analysis for people under affective or cognitive control

The statement in question here was “Is the influence of affect or cognition in mediating social behavior due to the inclusion of participants under affective or cognitive control in the sample?” To address the question people were categorized to be either under affective or cognitive control, and between-participant analysis was carried out. When the beta weight of a particular individual was greater that his or her cognition beta-weight the party was grouped less under cognitive control and being more under affective. He or she was then placed in the sub-sample of affective control. If the participant cognition beta weight was greater than his or her affect beta-weight, he was categorized being more under cognitive control than affective control and included in the cognitive sub-sample. The variances were calculated and a unique variance accounted for by cognition was greater for people under cognitive than affective control. It was clear that people under affective or cognitive control do not contribute to affect and cognition predicting specific behaviors. However, social behavior is guided by cognition and affect (environment) (Trafimow et al., 2004).


Cognition is important because it increases our behavioral flexibility. However, the environment provides the motivational power for behaviors. In addition, cognition is not important in mediating social behaviors when compared to the environment (affect). On the other hand, within-participants analysis tell us that cognition is as important as (environment) affect in guiding many intentions and social behaviors formed by particular individuals. Neural structures like cytoplasmic factors, environmental conditions, and genes are required in the expression of behavior.


Aarts, H., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2003). The Silence of the Library: Environment, Situational Norm, and Social Behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(1), 18-28.
Trafimow, D., Sheeran, P., Lombardo, B., Finlay, K., Brown, J., & Armitage, C. (2004). Affective and cognitive control of persons and behaviors. British Journal of Social Psychology, 43(2), 207-224.

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WePapers. (2020, December, 12) Sample Essay On Social Behavior. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/sample-essay-on-social-behavior/
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Sample Essay On Social Behavior. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/sample-essay-on-social-behavior/. Published Dec 12, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2024.

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