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Behavior of a person ought to be gauged according to the conformation to the common behaviors accepted and upheld by the society. However, it is inevitable for the behaviors to be consistent across the broad. Maladaptive behavior is the behavior that does not conform to the normal set of behavior. The paper conducts a research into perspectives into maladaptive behavior. The paper will cover depression as a maladaptive behavior.
Maladaptive behavior is any behavior that is contrary to the common. It is an outlier in the array of behavioral data in the society. There are many perspectives that can be used in the explanation abnormal behavior (Bonner, 2006). The viewpoints seek to offer more understanding on the causal agents for the behavior which is by large erratic and inconsistent with the expected behavior. The paper will focus on the perspectives on the maladaptive behavior. The two perspectives will be biological and psychodynamics (Caplan, 2008).
Biological perspective on the causes of the depression focuses on the role of the hereditary traits transferred to the genetically transferred material. It posits that the brain plays a vital role in the determination of the behaviors (Bonner, 2006). This perspective assumes that the malfunctioning of the body is the main cause of the depression. The role of the genetics makes the maladaptive behavior more of a permanent issue that cannot be corrected using the normal approaches (Smith, 2000). The biological factors are the most important in the diagnosis of the patients exhibiting depressive behaviour behavior (Bonner, 2006). Therefore, the perspective has wide applications in the diagnosis and treatment of the patients with maladaptive behaviors.
The second perspective on the depression posits that the behavior exhibited by the people comes from the notion that the thoughts and emotions of a person have a role to play in the determination of the maladaptive behavior (Caplan, 2008). Diagnosis of the patient also has to focus on the development of an opinion on the role of the psychodynamics. Emotional intelligence determines the effectiveness of the person in handling the issues.
Bonner, A. (2006). Social exclusion and the way out. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.
Caplan, T. (2008). Needs ABC. London: Whiting & Birch, Ltd.
Smith, I. (2000). The relationship between social problem solving skills, maladaptive behaviours, verbal skills and autobiographical memory retrieval style in a sample of people with mild learning disabilities.
While understanding anti-social behavior in the society, often comprised of violence, torture and terrorism, it is essential putting into context situational variables traditionally presented by psychology (Harding, 2006). The dominant orientation of an individual’s psychology focuses on internal factors brought into different situations such as character and personality present in the society. The perspective is essential while pursuing the integrity of individual functioning. Similarly, it is important appreciating the degree of influence of human actions by situational experiences in the day-to-day activities (Harding, 2006). However, psychology does not provide a comprehensive recognition of situational influences. Consequently, the society is taking the role of defining situational behaviors of individuals on a context of either evil or moral behaviors. Actions observed in prisons by military police guards are the building blocks towards the diversified approach to violence, punishment and evil behaviors. The discussion reviews an article by Gross on prison violence based psychological theories (Gross, Winter 2008).
Violence behaviors in the modern society are seemingly acts of indecent. However, people engaging in these behavior actions supports these actions by considering them as defense pursuits and right actions based on the situations facing them. These actions are common in situations where one individual is at a higher rank while compared with others in the environment. As in the article, prisoners and students are the intermediate people facing the wrath from their guards and teachers respectively.
The power and control wheel theory, which describe the abuse of power and maintain control over the partner describes the prevailing violent actions in prisons (Gross, Winter 2008). According to the author, during the orientation of guards, they have the obligation of ensuring they have full control over prisoners by enacting feelings of fear (Harding, 2006). According to Gross, governing powers in these situations contribute to the violent actions. Violent actions are inherent in nature. As perceived by the author, there are cases where guards fail to develop a shared identity of their authority over the prisoners. In these situations, they often face a challenge while maintaining order in prisons.
Violent behaviors have a high relationship with punishments. Under many contexts, punishments are corrective measures done on the wrongdoer (Gross, Winter 2008). However, as described in the article, Gross develops inhuman scenarios used by teachers and guards as punishments. Active punishments such as shocks used by teachers often raised the ‘learners’ risks of having a heart condition (Gross, Winter 2008). However, despite the prior knowledge on the hazardous punishing method, some teachers raised their shocking voltages from 300 to 450. Similarly, in prisons, their punishing methods involved removal of mattresses from the prisoners’ beds making them sleep on the cold floor. In addition, some guards forcefully simulated homosexuality acts with the prisoners. Despite raising the health risks of the prisoners, these punishing methods were unethical.
Evil behaviors are normal in the society. Evil behaviors as observed in the punishments used in schools and prisons raises concerns over the aspect of humanity in these contexts. However, according to the author, these actions resulted from social settings governed by these environments (Gross, Winter 2008). Surprisingly, during the BBC experiment, participants understood that their actions went publicly. Thus, they maintained a good conduct profile to the public. The social identity theory develops a cognitive attitude that analyses the situational influences of evil behaviors. While in prison, guards deprive prisoners from their freedom by exerting control over their lives.
In conclusion, individual’s behavior varies based on situations. Due to fear of public witness, as developed by Gross, good deeds replace these evil behaviors. Therefore, both social identity and situational determinants significantly lead to evil behaviors.
Gross, B. (Winter 2008). Prison violence: does brutality come with the badge? The Forensic Examiner. 17.4 , p21.
Harding, C. (2006). Aggression and destructiveness: Psychoanalytic perspectives. London: Routledge.
Deviance is defined as any behavior that goes against established social norms and in most cases is met with disapproval from most members of society. Deviant behavior can be non-criminal or criminal, and the characterization of these types of behavior depends mainly on cultural relativity – the idea that what is considered normal in one culture can be completely unacceptable in another. This notwithstanding, sociologists and behavioral scientists have developed several theories over the last five decades attempting to explain deviance in society. In this paper, we integrate several criminal theories to explain the anatomy of deviant behavior. While there are many abnormal behaviors that I have manifested during my life, I want to focus specifically on violence and drug use because these are the ones that I think are most noticeable.
The first theory is the differential association theory which posits that people learn deviant behavior from their environment that can include parents, siblings, friends, co-workers as well as the media. In this case, it is the people within a specific reference group that decides on the norms of deviance and conformity. For example, I was once convicted of rape, and on self-inspection, I traced to this deviant behavior to my childhood years and more specifically to the fact that I did not have parental love. I lived in a children’s home before I was adopted. As a person who has never known maternal affection, I missed that aspect in my life. Even though my adoptive father played his role excellently and treated me nicely, I still had a feeling that the experience would have been different from my biological father. Over time this void in my life pushed me to look for acceptance in women and which better place to find them than social places like music festivals like Coachella. Thus, for me, the Coachella has become a place where my deviance comes to the fore and the fact that I get other people who share similar intentions makes it all the more worthwhile.
According to the Control Theory, one’s behavior is controlled by a combination of inner and outer controls. People naturally want to engage in deviant behavior, but internal restraint such as values, morality, integrity, and conscience hold them back (Little & McGivern, 2013). When internal control mechanisms fail, external influences like police officers, friends, parents, and etcetera take over. In my case, both sets of controls failed because people tended to overlook my crimes believing that I would eventually outgrow them as I matured. However, the realization that I was going scot-free regardless of my actions took me to a place where I lost my self-control and the desire to align my behavior with socially acceptable norms. In other words, I entered a world where I believed I was no longer accountable to my actions.
Behavior theorists arguing from a social learning perspective on the role of the environment in child development brings into focus Bandura’s social learning theory. According to Bandura, social behavior is a ‘learned’ process in the sense that it is acquired by observing and copying what others are doing (Rear, 2014). Because moral development—differentiating between right and wrong— like learning, is a cognitive process, the social learning theory places a lot of emphasis on the social context and offers that moral development can occur simply from observation or taking direct instruction. Besides, Bandura opines that the learning process can also take place in the presence of external factors which he referred to as reinforcements.
The ‘reinforcement’ perspective is closely associated with B. F. Skinner of the operant conditioning theory which looks at the learning process as being facilitated by rewards or punishments (Miltenberger & Crosland, 2014). Thus, within the psychosocial domain of moral development, it is easy to fathom how rewards and punishments can be used by parents to teach morality to their children. Mostly, when I misbehave, and nothing is done, I get the impression that the behavior is inconsequential (positive reinforcement) and therefore repeat it. Social control factors such as the police are negative reinforcements because they seek to reduce the likelihood of deviancy by inducing unwanted consequences like going to jail.
Another deviant behavior that is prevalent in social gatherings is drug use. For someone like me, using drugs like marijuana, meth and etcetera served to reinforce my ‘bad boy’ image (defense mechanism). Some context here – in school I was bullied a lot because I often isolated myself from other students perhaps due to self-pity. To release my frustrations, I took up boxing as a hobby. I argued that I was never going to allow another person to victimize me unless I could not avoid it. The school environment and the bullying experience have played a critical role in shaping my involvement with deviance. Doing drugs is an activity that most teenagers engage in mostly to get acceptance and create a ‘cool’ image. During social events, drug and alcohol use is prevalent. Most adolescents cite social events as the places where they get their first exposure to drugs, alcohol, and etcetera. As a distinct field within psychology, behaviorism can be discussed using a behavioral theory like Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development.
According to this theory, persons between the ages of 13 and 19 years are in the Fidelity stage where the conflicting forces pits identity vs. role confusion. Adolescents are at a stage in life where they essentially occupy two worlds – childhood and adulthood – at the same time. This explains why peer pressure is a significant concern for parents during teen years because of the conflict going on between identity and role confusion. Erikson argues that each stage presents the individual with a psychosocial crisis pitting two conflicting forces. The ability of a person to reconcile these forces successfully (the attribute that is mentioned first) presents an opportunity to develop a positive virtue that will condition the way that an individual develops his/her personality (Sacco, 2013). For example, adolescents fall in the fidelity stage where the opposing psychosocial forces are identity versus role confusion.
If the teenager successfully reconciles these two forces, he/she will emerge from this stage with a stronger sense of self-worth (character). Conversely, an inability to merge the two forces will likely lead to role confusion where the person manifests behaviors that conflict his/her age.
Role confusion, in particular, plays a significant part in adolescent development and explains the role of peer pressure in personality development. Moreover, the fact that the adolescent’s brain is not fully formed in terms of being able to anticipate the full implications of their actions explains why they are likely to engage in deviant behavior. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (2016) contends that during adolescence the part of the brain that deals with reward processing—the striatum—is hyper-responsive to reward-inducing behavior and is subsequently reward-seeking and most teenagers experiences with peer pressure attests to the validity of this hypothesis.
Admittedly, during adolescence, the desire to ‘experiment’ and explore the world of adulthood sometimes overshadows the rational faculties and makes teenagers engage in activities such as smoking marijuana, skipping school, drinking alcohol, and engaging in sex just to be ‘part of the gang.’ One of the reasons why social functions like the Coachella pull in many teenagers is because it offers them a platform to ‘experiment’ and the numbers provide them with a false sense of security.
At the same time, nobody is interested in what another person is doing – everyone is left to his/her machinations. This is the sense of freedom that most adolescents yearn for – the freedom to engage in behaviors that they think are permissible within their ages. At the same time, we must remain alive to the fact that not all teenagers who attend the Coachella engage in one form of deviancy or the other. Indeed, there are those who participate in such social functions purely to take part in the official activities outlined in the program. This introduces the cognitive theory perspective and how it explains variance in the development of deviant behavior. Within this theoretical framework, psychologists opine that mental processes play an essential role in this regard. This theory looks at how deviant behavior is perceived and manifested by the minds of criminal elements. It also examines how such minds perform certain cognitive tasks such as problem-solving. Furthermore, there are two sub-theories within this theory – the first sub-theory investigates how criminal/deviant minds represent morals while the second sub-theory looks at the ways these minds engage in the process of information processing. On the domain of moral and intellectual development, psychologists argue that the reasoning process follows a pre-set order that is sequentially divided into different levels, stages and social orientation (Little & McGivern, 2013). Each of the three levels contain two stages which implies that there are six stages.
The 1st level in the first stage focuses on obedience and punishment and is the stage where children below the ages of 11 fall. In this level, psychologists argue that people concentrate on behaving within socially acceptable norms and that figures of authority such as the police, teachers and parents play a central role in enforcing good behavior through the reward-punishment system. In the second stage, scholars opine that the focus shifts to the individual where the overarching need is to meet one’s pressing needs. This stage is characterized by instrumentalism and exchange and while the individual is more aligned with going after his/her individual needs, they are equally concerned about other people meeting their needs as well. According to Little and McGovern (2013), this is the domain where people become defined by conventional moral reasoning where behavior is judged primarily by societal standards and viewpoints.
The 3rd stage marks the beginning of level II and here, Little and McGovern (2013) opine that the individual starts viewing himself/herself as part of the society. They rationalize that this awareness comes with expectations and roles. The individual strives to get the approval of society by constantly following customs, rules, and laws. The social learning theory conceptualizes this stage using the reward-punishment where good behavior is rewarded while bad behavior is punished. Therefore, the underlying idea here is that external forces play an important behavior formation. The 5th stage is called the social contract and 6th stage the principled conscience. An individual in this stage focuses more on societal macro issues such as human welfare, liberty, human rights and moral values that portend the greatest good for society’s wellbeing.
An important aspect of behavior formation is Information processing – which is essentially the processes involved in encoding pertinent information in order to make critical decisions. Scholars posit that good information processing skills are fundamental in preventing a person from engaging in criminal/deviant behavior. At the same time, social studies show that well-conditioned persons are not likely to engage in deviant behavior as well as making decisions that could be regarded as antisocial. For this reason, the consensus seems to be that underdeveloped cognitive processes are the main drivers of flawed reasoning and that these cognitive processes are formed during early childhood probably as a result of being exposed to bad peer influence, parental rejection and violence/abuse (Miltenberger & Crosland, 2014). Furthermore, research findings show that people who resort to deviant or criminal behavior in order to cope with co-occurring issues like trauma, lack of parental love and etcetera are likely to present a myriad of behavioral problems such as alcohol and/or dependency. This is evident in the mixed array of behavioral issues that are on display at social events like the Coachella. The fact that most of the deviants in these events have the same moral latitude to make better decisions but choose not to underscores the importance of information processing in the decision-making processes of adolescents and young adults.
Perhaps it is worth noting that this paper has consistently referred to deviant behavior as a characteristic feature in teen years. The implication is not that other people do not make mistakes but that the manifestation of deviant behavior in adulthood is always traced to incidences that happened during the formative years of one’s growth and development. Indeed, any person of any age is capable of engaging in deviance as is demonstrated by the large numbers of adults behind bars. However, research studies indicate that the formation of deviant behavior starts in pre-adult years and therefore focusing on this area is fundamental to understanding this crucial aspect in the development of the personality of an individual.
Because of the connection between decision-making and behavior, Freud’s psychoanalytic theory is widely embraced by behavior analysts and psychologists principally because it expounds on concepts of human personality that other approaches do not. Central to the psychoanalytic theory are the id, ego and super-ego which psychoanalysts opine play a fundamental role in the development of one’s personality (Lapsley, 2013). According to Freudian psychology, the id is the primitive part of one’s mental make-up and is very active at birth. It manifests one’s unconscious desires, e.g., for sex, food, etc. Freudian psychologists contend that the id prefers instant gratification and disregards other impulses. Moreover, the ego starts developing early and is tasked with for keeping in check the id’s urges. For example, there are some behaviors that children manifest early in life like throwing tantrums but later drop as they become older. Subsequently, the ego is reality-driven. how a person integrates moral standards and community values as they grow up determines how much their super-ego develops. Thus, the super-ego concerns itself with judging our moral turpitude.
Lapsley, D. (2013, December 3). The Id, Ego and Superego. Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 12-30.
Little, W., & McGivern, R. (2013). Chapter 21: Social Movements and Social Change. In 1. C. Edition (Ed.), Introduction to Sociology (pp. Chapters 20 - 21). Vancouver, Canada: Press Books.
Miltenberger, R. G., & Crosland, K. A. (2014). Parenting. The wiley blackwell handbook of operant and classical conditioning. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Rear, A. (2014). Monkey brains wired to share. Nature, 506(7489), 416–417.
Sacco, R. (2013). Re-envisaging the eight developmental stages of Erik Erikson: The Fibonacci Life-Chart Method (FLCM). Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology, 3(1), 140–146.
Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making. (2017, September). Retrieved April 25, 2019, from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:
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