I promised to finish the previous Analyzing Shifts in Human Behaviour article, so here it is. Actually, this Part II post doesn’t even come close to completing any analysis of human behaviour, but at least I can finish my talk about ‘variables’.
Additionally, some examples show that religious/ideological/theological values are often applied to other aspects of life:
- Use of time — I have rarely encountered a person devoted to their faith who does not spend considerable time developing or spreading their faith; however, if one’s values are much less religious in nature, and more ideological — for instance, if one is supports abortion on scientific grounds — it is nevertheless possible that one does not devote much of one’s time to promoting one’s cause
It should be irrefutable by now that these variables are demonstrated visibly in every person’s external behaviour. Now let’s analyze how these variables gain their values, and what impacts those variables.
Three Main Types of Influences
I believe that every person’s personality is developed with these three influences:
- Environmental — the circumstances in which a person develops is a crucial influence on the shaping of one’s values and one’s personality.
- Intrapersonal — one’s values are all interlinked, and strong values (like religion) can shape the development of other variables (like music preferences).
- Interpersonal — it is evident that one’s close friends and family all play roles in the development of one’s character.
Let’s take the example of musical preference and see how these three types of influences affect one’s musical tastes:
- Environmental: suppose a child grows up in a Chinese ethnic enclave. The result is inevitably that the child becomes accustomed to various aspects of Chinese culture, including music. Now, suppose another child grows up in a higher-class family in a mostly Caucasian neighbourhood and goes to a school that is not racially diverse. This child is not likely to appreciate world music, or specifically appreciate Chinese music.
- Intrapersonal: many devout Christians listen to music with lyrics that reinforce and resonate with their beliefs. Those with substantial musical education are also more likely to develop a special appreciation for professional musicians; those that study classical music are also more likely to develop a classical taste.
- Interpersonal: teens that spend a significant amount of time together experience the curious phenomena of ‘bonding’, ‘persuasion’, and ‘conversion’. Bonding establishes the rapport that is needed for someone’s persuasion to be taken seriously, leading to the conversion. For instance, a teenager whose best friend is a fanatical listener of heavy metal may learn to accept, if not like (over time), similar genres.
What is immediately evident is that there must be a fine balance of these three types to lead to a certain result in the variable. It is impossible to predict which type takes precedence if two or three clash, but it is possible to ‘engineer’ (as it were) the influences to generate a certain desired variable. (One blog reader and commentator correctly predicted this.)
It is sometimes easier to generate certain variable values than others, and it is often easier to influence someone at an early age.
Let’s see what it would take for deeply devout, Christian parents to influence a child’s religious values:
- Environmental: require weekly church attendance, require frequent prayer, decorate house with religious ornaments, observe religious holidays, send to Catholic educational institutions, etc…
- Intrapersonal: [it is typically not possible to shape a person using their own values]
- Interpersonal: frequent regulation of activities, encourage friends of the same beliefs, and disapprove of friends who have opposing views
Indeed, if the above influences are present over a period of more than a decade, the result will be a young adult of similar religious values.
I will have you understand that it is not my intention to ever use these conjectures in real life; in other words, I would never think of consciously abusing trust and influence to shape another person. Actually, a ‘social’ experiment in the next little while will put these things to the test.
However, as I am being subject to shifting environmental and interpersonal influences, there is the possibility that I will be shaped by my peers.