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Variation is one of the most obvious characteristics of human behavior. An individual’s every day life is marked by an expansive fluctuation in almost every aspect of behavior such as the intelligence he exudes, the speed with which he moves, his expression of emotions, goals he pursues, humor, energy, anxiety, shyness, among others. Even the most intelligent of human individuals have ordinary thoughts most of the time as they too are confronted with the normal activities like choosing the right mode of dressing, brushing in the morning and carrying out normal transactions. There is sufficient evidence towards the fact that one of the most striking features of a child’s behavior is its dynamic aspect of the stream of behavior recorded continuously (Barker, 1968). Any individual with no knowledge of psychology comprehend this dimension of human variation from their observation and experience. However, this is not prominent in scientific psychology.
The concern of scientific psychology is another dimension of behavior variability with emphasis on individual differences. This is a major step in psychology that despite the variations that occur within every individual’s behavior, the methods for measuring and identifying individual behavior constants have been devised. Scientific psychology’s concern is with the varied number of constants measured and how they relate with each other. There is however a difficulty in achieving a stable behavior measurement. For the stability of behavior measurement to be achieved, their must be an imposition of stable measurement upon the individual, land the same conditions must be reintroduced every time the measurement is being repeated. The employment of this method offers measures of individual constancies under certain conditions but terminates individual variations under varied conditions thereby destroying the such contexts of behavior that occur naturally.
This problem is not however unique to psychology. A beam’s strength can be measured under given specific conditions and under this very condition each time the measurement is being carried out. However, depending on the structural context, a beam possesses many strengths. This is also true for the meaning of words since words too have a range of meaning, the actual one being determined by the context in which it has been used. With this regard, an individual is like a beam or a word, possessing many strengths, intelligences, moralities, speeds and social maturities. However, it is clear where this intra-individual behavior variation comes from. An individual’s behavior is both internally and externally connected, though in a very complicated way.
The internal parts of an individual such as the neurons, hormones or muscles and the external context such as the class, field or the game he is playing has a complex connection. The psychological individual who reads a book, plays some game and walks on some road poses as an identifiable entity between the interior parts and the exterior contexts that are unstable, being linked to both the entities, yet profoundly separated from them. This separation emerges from the fact that the internal parts and the external contexts of an individual involves an entity that functions according to laws that are not the same as those that govern his behavior (Cromwell-Davis, 2008). Such things like the actions of the brain, contraction of muscles and the concentration of hormones are not psychological phenomena.
With the current state of understanding, the operation of such phenomena involve laws that are not compatible with that of psychology. The same applies to the environment with which an individual operates. The school or class where an individual is a student, the library he studies and the road he walks operates according to laws that are foreign with regard to that govern his behavior as an individual. The external context involves what has been referred to as the molar ecological environment which includes those phenomena that occurs naturally outside an individuals skin with which his molar actions are incorporated but operate according to laws that are incompatible with those laws that dictates his molar behavior (Baker, 1965). There is a difference between the psychological and ecological environment. One of the interesting aspects of human behavior is the course it takes when different variables are introduced within the environment. In the study below, behavior of individual was observed with regard to the distance between them and other human subjects.
An individual’s mode of behavior is dictated by the distance between him and other subjects. According to Adam Kendon, every human behavior is located (Kendon 1990, p. 210). Human behavior takes place within a given space which has objects and people upon which the behavior is directed. The space and what it contains on the other hand influences the behavior of an individual. The space occupied and maintained by an individual’s behavior can in this respect be termed as the transactional space. The transactional space between two individuals influences their behavior.
In the following experiment, a study was conducted to investigate the extent to which transactional space influences the behavior of individuals in college. The investigator walked through the college in different areas where different activities were being carried out. The exercise took three hours and findings were recorded. The experiment was conducted in the campus park because of the diversity of activity and human interactions that takes place in it.
Since the study involved the study of behavior in face to face interaction, a major problem encountered was how to define the structural units in which the subjects were organized. In particular, it became difficult to delineate the distinct units of interaction with regard to the organization of observable behavior into their components for analysis. However, the observations were made randomly with neither of the subjects aware of the experiments. As such, the experimenter walked from one point to another, looking at the group formation and identifying individuals who did not have any company. The behavior which was recorded included eye focus, body movement and the degree of engagement in a particular action. In particular, the reaction of the subjects were observed whenever the experimenter approached an individual or a group of individuals. In all the instances, the experimenter did not engage the subjects in any form of conversation.
Observations and results
Behavior of individuals was varied depending on the activity and whether one was alone or in groups. Among the individuals who were alone, there seemed to be an absorption with either something that was going on around them or an absorption with an activity that they were involved with. They also seemed to react whenever an individual came within three meters of their transactional space. Of the notable behaviors, five out of six subjects looked directly at the individual who came within three meters of their transactional space.
Among groups of individuals, there was a variation in behavior with regard to the number. In a group of two, the subjects engaged in conversation with momentous eye contact. Whenever one passed within a distance of three meters, they all turned and depending on the behavior or gender of the individual, some responded with either greeting the individual or looked briefly and continued with their conversation. The latter instance was rare with groups of three or more.
A behavior setting is composed of one or more standing patterns of behavior. There are numerous patterns of behavior that have been recognized such as a molar unit or group activity. This is a bounded pattern in holistic human behavior. It is thus a discrete behavioral unit with coordinates which are univocal within space and time. As such, a standing pattern of behavior cannot be said to be a character of the subjects involved but rather, it is a phenomenon outside the individual with unique characteristics which remain whenever there is an alteration of the participants. One apparent thing among the subjects observed is that their behavior with regard to reacting to an individual coming within their transactional space is dependent among various factors which may not be open to the experimenter as human behavior is derived from both external and internal conditions. As such, every observable behavior exhibited by an individual has various roots even though behavior can be predicted to some extent.