Violence is a behavior that is dominant in most people in the human population. Violent behavior can either be viewed as a natural behavior, whereby an individual is born with, or an acquired behavior which an individual can acquire through human development. Violent behavior is performed by brutality towards properties or people and it is considered to be a crime in the law.
Behavioral changes are inevitable in the human development from childhood to adulthood. The main factor contributing into behavioral change is the social environment whereby an individual learn new behaviors. These learnt behaviors eventually lead to a behavioral change of an individual. The environment behavior acquiring method is known as social learning and has two major principles which are observing and cognition.
Observing and cognition principles play a major role in the family environment which is a crucial environment to growth and development of an individual. If family environment has problems it is most likely that this individual will suffer the consequences. The family environment either makes a person to be either social or antisocial. For instance a researcher found that family environment that influences the hyperactivity of children.
Family environment with problems such as low literacy level, poor parenting practices, and bad family structure will negatively affect the child psychological environment. A research on the relationship between individual behavior shows that family environment characterizes an individual’s well being. This can either be negative or positive. For instance, with a positive and caring parent-child relationship, a stimulating home environment, and consistent disciplinary techniques the individual will have positive social characteristics. Those families who have weak family communication technique and bonds have been seen to have a strong relationship with the individual’s growth and development of violent behavior. It is logical to making a conclusion that poor family environment have a greater likelihood of promoting violence behavioral change in an individual. That will eventually influence antisocial behavior.
A greater indicator of future violence behavior is the abuse during individual’s childhood. Child abuse is said to cause anger and depression into a child’s mind that grows and develops with unsuitable psychological environment. This makes an individual to have hatred against other persons and strongly believe that other persons have hatred against them too. This eventually leads to this individual becoming violent and antisocial.
The research finding of the argument between genetic and environmental influences on violent behavior has to deal with the age of the individual or not seems to be consistent in recognizing that genes influence adult behavior more than the environment. For children and teenagers the environment greatly influences their behavior. Adult individuals have the ability to select the environment in which to live in and this will either positively or negatively affect our individual traits, such as violence. Young individuals are limited to the extent of selecting an environment, which can accounts for the great influence of environmental factors in childhood behaviors.
A significant factor in the development of violence behavior in adolescence is peer groups. It is said that there is a strong relationship between the involvement in an antisocial peer group and violence behavior. A primary causes as to why this happens can be the aggressive behavior in young individuals. There is likelihood that when a child turns aggressive toward their peers be deemed as an outcast. This will create a poor peer relationship and obliges such children to be with others who share such behaviors.
Social learning theory is cited as way to explain how the environment can influence an individual’s behavior. Using this theory to explain the violent or antisocial behavior of an individual it means that an individual observes violent behavior between parents, siblings, or both. This will eventually make an individual believe that this violent behavior is normal and can therefore adopt it by emulating their family members.
Interaction between family environment and disciplinary techniques are influential in creating a violent behavior. Using the social learning theory these two factors are very critical in the development of violent behavior in an individual in case of either failing. Individuals who are raised in a violent family environment where there is lack of parental monitoring, permissiveness or inconsistency in punishment, parental rejection and aggression most likely they end up being violent (Larsen, 2005).
The exposure to such high levels of domestic violence and other environmental factors negatively influences and reinforces an individual’s behavior. A significant point that should be known is the fact that other researchers have supported the notion that genetics do influence levels of violence in an individual. This stands in opposition to the social learning.
However there are theories concerning genetic and environmental influences, which seem to suggest an existence of interaction between the two and one such theory is the general arousal theory of criminality. Personality psychologist Eysenck happened to create a model based on three factors known as psychotics, extraversion, and neuroticism, or which is now referred to as the PEN model.
Psychotism was associated with the traits of violence, antisocial, impulsive, cold, impersonal, and not empathetic. Extraversion had a strong relationship with the traits of sociable, lively, active, sensation-seeking, carefree, dominant, and assertive. Finally, neuroticism was associated with anxious, tense, low self-esteem, depressed, irrational, emotional, and moody. Through researching and surveillance, Eysenck found that these factors could be used as indicators of violent behavior.
Eysenck believed that this to be true of the psychoticism factor and that measuring it could determine the difference between violent and non-violent. Extraversion was a better determiner in the cases for young individuals, while neuroticism was a better determiner for adult individuals. Important point about these factors and the individual traits associated with them is that most of them have already been found to be genetic.
Understanding Eysenck’s original model is important into assessing the general arousal theory of criminality, which suggests an interaction between the three factors. Research has shown that criminality is strongly related with low arousal levels of the individual’s brain. Characteristics related to low arousal levels are sleepiness, lack of attention, lack of interest and loss of vigilance. Eysenck believed that those characteristics were similar to the personality factor of extraversion.
Individuals who have low arousal levels and those who are extraverts need to seek out arousal stimulation because they already do not have enough already in their brains. Therefore, the backbone of the general arousal theory of criminality is that individuals do inherit a nervous system which is unresponsive to low levels of stimulation. The consequence is these individuals having to seek out stimulation to enhance their arousal.
Under the general arousal theory, proper stimulation includes risky activities associated with violent behavior, which consists of substance abuse, sexual promiscuity and crime. An important fact that must be pointed out though is that not all individuals with low arousal levels or either those who are extraverts will seek those antisocial activities. It only need the right environment and socially acceptable personality to create such an individual and with thus this theory can be considered to have taken into account both factors of environmental influences and genetic (Carey, 1997).
There exists no enough evidence to conclude that the point that genetics play the most important role in the result of an individual’s behavior. The opposing point of view of environmental factor is not without doubts either as to being the prominent factor influencing violent behavior of an individual. In many researches done, there seem to be more evidence that support genetics point of view, but that does not necessarily mean that it is more important.
However, researchers have certainly done well in their progress, to the point where there is a huge consensus of the fact that genes influence behavior of an individual up to a certain level. Although not widely publicized, there is also believed that environmental factors account for what cannot be explained by genes. Therefore it is logical to conclude that an individual’s violent behavior can be the result of both the environment in which they were raised and their genetic background.
A researcher proposed a theory relating to individuals’ sociopaths and their antisocial behavior. According to that theory, a primary sociopath is lacking in individual’s moral development and one does not feel socially responsible for their actions. This sociopath is a product of the individual’s character, genotype and physical type. A secondary sociopath develops in response to individual’s environment because of the negative impacts of social competition.
Social competition comes in when and individual has to compete in order to lead a good life .For instance, living in urban residence, being in a low socioeconomic status, or poor social skills can lead individuals not being capable in reaching their needs in a socially desirable way, which can turn into antisocial behavior as an alternative method of reaching their needs so that an individual may feel socially satisfied.
The primary sociopath is dependent on their genetic makeup and personality, while certain factors of the secondary sociopath are also heritable. Notwithstanding, the secondary sociopath has a greater dependence on environmental factors. From the review of both environmental and genetic factors, it is clear to support the idea of the secondary sociopath type. An individual may inherit certain socially acceptable genes and if combined with hostile environmental factors lead them to engage in antisocial or criminal behavior.
I think there is a great need to put effort into identifying those individuals, especially children, who may become victims of certain genes or personal characters that can lead into violent behaviors. Society should try to treat and rehabilitate these individuals because they are needy. There existed certain educational, environment enrichment programs which have a lasting effect on children if given by a certain age. If more programs like these could be developed, society could be saved from future antisocial or criminal behavior individuals (Sloan, 2000).
Social learning theory is a better way to explain the influence of environment on violent behavior in children, but it does not have to oppose the genetic influence on behavior as well. Rather, it should be considered as part of a larger theory or model that describes how environment and genetics interact on an individual’s character. Eysenck’s general arousal theory that suggests that such an interaction can be modified to encompass the social learning theory provides a more complete model to explaining how inherited traits and upbringing interact so as to influence unsocial behavior.
In conclusion, I view both environmental factors and genetic factor as the main cause of individual behavior. However, I emphasize that genetic behaviors are dominate in an individual development contradicting researchers who found them to be dominant at adulthood. Environment factors may highly influence a child behavior than it can to an adult but all the same environment affects individual’s c behavior irrespective of the age.
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