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Human behaviour

Humans show many of the same types of behaviour as other animals. But human behaviour is often more complex because we are more intelligent and aware of ourselves.


Humans have instincts, but it is possible for us to overcome natural urges to follow a certain behaviour. For example, a hungry person might want to start eating immediately when they sit down at the dinner table, but they have learned that good manners mean they should wait until everyone is seated and ready to eat.


cigarette packets

Most people start smoking before they are adults

People often imitate each other. This can help them learn something new and useful, such as new skill in lessons, sport or at work. It can also lead them to show less useful behaviour. For example, young people may start smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs as a result of copying each other to ‘fit in’.


Conditioning can be used to change the behaviour of people. Advertisers are very skilled at this. They use pictures of their products which make the them look glamorous or exciting, often by using famous actors or sports people.

By associating the product with attractive images the advertisers are trying to set up a conditioned response to their product. People will respond positively and buy the product.


Behaviour activity

Is it instinct or conditioning that makes you study science?



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