Human behavior can be explained through both through the study of the brain and through examination of the environment in which an individual exists. One or both can contribute to behavior. Psychologists study both in an effort to understand what motivates people to act the way to do and what methods can be effective in changing that behavior.
Behavioral psychology is the most elementary aspect of that field of study, and one that involves enormous discipline. Psychologists employ a number of methods to explain human behavior, but before detailed analytical understanding of an individual or group can be attained, underlying physiological conditions must first be detected and addressed. That is the medical component of the field as opposed to the sociological component, which involves itself more with how people respond to external stimuli based upon environmental factors, like upbringing, exposure to certain phenomena and the like. Each individual’s brain, unsurprisingly, is unique in terms of development of personality and character traits. Through imaging of the brain and, when necessary, the broader neurological system, abnormalities or particular physical characteristics that contribute to behavior can be detected. In those instances when abnormalities or certain characteristics are discovered, they can often be address through a combination of therapy and medications, a wide range of which exists and finding the ideal one for a specific individual can take months or years.
Psychologists also explain human behavior through the study of how individuals respond to external stimuli, for example, images intended to evoke different emotions. How individuals respond across a range of emotions helps explain their behavioral patterns. Studying individual behavior involves discussions with the individual in question regarding upbringing, relationships with friends, family, coworkers, bosses, etc., circumstances under which various emotions like fear and anxiety occur, and so on, all of which helps the psychologist determine the root causes of certain behavioral characteristics, for example, the so-called “fight or flight” response to uncomfortable situations. These discussions are supplemented by surveys to which the individuals in question answer a lengthy series of written questions intended to further isolate the key factors motivating behavior.
Understanding how individuals process information is vital to understanding their broader behavioral patterns. As noted, how individuals respond to stimuli or process information is, or can be a product of both physiological and environmental factors. Psychologists study both in order to explain human behavior.