In social situations, most people behave differently depending on the situation, the environment, and psychological factors. Behaviors can steam from many aspects of a person’s life and surroundings. There are many psychological reasons why the behaviors are present and many times the behaviors will come with precursors or consequences. Sometimes these behaviors may lead to therapeutic intervention and sometimes the person will simply outgrow the behaviors. In order to analyze the behaviors, a psychologist needs to first study the behaviors that are present in social situations.

Behaviors in Social Situations

Different social situations bring about many unique behaviors in people. One such behavior is that of a person who uses foul language in the privacy of his or her home yet will speak perfectly acceptable language when in public. This is a normal change in behavior; however, there are more serious social behaviors that may need to be studied further. Antisocial personality disorder is an illness that shows when people are aggressive and mean to others around them. People who suffer from this disorder are also called sociopaths. According to Kowalski & art of sociopathWesten (2009), people who suffer from antisocial personality disorder often have “minimal conscience and a tendency toward aggressive or criminal behavior,” which means that they will likely say things that are inappropriate and have no feelings of remorse afterwards (p. 27). It is said that many people with antisocial personality disorder are prone to harming others simply to see the reaction the inflicted person displays. Other social behaviors, such as social anxiety disorder, are disorders that instill an irrational fear of being in social interactions into the people who suffer from this disorder.

anxietyAccording to WebMD, LLC (2005-2012), social anxiety disorder is when “a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations” (para. 1). An “intense nervousness” or anxiety may overwhelm the person and “self-consciousness [will likely] arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others” (WebMD, LLC, 2005-2012, para. 1). In social situations, a person with this disorder may feel as if he or she is drowning or may feel physically ill. The person is more likely to
hide in his or her home without much, if any, outside communication. It is very difficult for a person with social anxiety disorder to maintain relationships and hold employment. A person with this disorder is likely to harm him or herself in order to get away from a social situation that is overbearing. Most, if not all, social behaviors have reasons behind the actions, as well as, precursors or consequences of the appropriateness or inappropriateness or the behaviors.

Context of Behaviors and Precursors or Consequences

In many adults who suffer from antisocial personality disorder there are precursors that can be traced back to childhood and the parental guidance that they were shown at early ages. Many times, people with antisocial personality disorder will have parents who were verbally, physically, or sexually abusive. The person may also have had an unstable home life or may have lost a parent due to death or divorce. Sometimes, a person can show symptoms of antisocial personality disorder if there are serious and persistent conduct issues, such as antisocial personality disordertrouble playing with other children, the lack of emotions of love or kindness, and opposition to punishment. There are major consequences involved with antisocial personality disorder, such as constant punishment, being arrested, and imprisonment. However, there are methods that may treat this disorder, which will be discussed later. Social anxiety disorder also has precursors and consequences.

There are three major factors that may play a role in the development of social anxiety disorder. Biologically, an imbalance of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, can be linked to the development of social anxiety disorder. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger, of sorts, that helps the brain impulses move from nerve cell to nerve cell throughout the brain. According to WebMD, LLC (2005-2012), when the proper messages cannot be clearly defined by the brain it “can alter the way the brain reacts to stressful situations, leading to anxiety” (What Causes Social Anxiety Disorder?, p. 2, para. 1). There is also a psychological reason APDsocial anxiety disorder may affect a person, such as a traumatizing event from a social situation. This type of event may cause the person to avoid any further social situations or may cause the person to actually fear a social gathering. Being humiliated or embarrassed can cause the onset of social anxiety disorder. The third factor that plays a role in the development of social anxiety disorder is environmental. If a person sees an event that instills fear into him or her, he or she may develop this disorder. The actions of others can cause irrational fears to evolve by mistreating other people, laughing at them, or bullying them. If a person witnesses these behaviors, it can cause the person to fear that he or she will be placed in the same kind of situation. Both of these social disorders may be associated with phenomenon, such as social facilitation, social loafing, groupthink, among others that may have caused the disorders to take place in the people.

Associated Phenomenon

Antisocial personality disorder may be the result of a phenomenon called intrapersonal attitudes phenomenon. Intrapersonal attitudes is determined by actions that are learned from parents, friends, or other social situations as well as overall evaluations of a person, object, place, or issue that may influence the thought process and actions taken by the individual. When a child learns drunken or drug induced behaviors the child may come to think that all behavior is based on these situations. A child may also learn through reward or punishment, also called operant conditioning, what is right or wrong behavior. In the case of antisocial personality disorder, many people are born with this disorder and do not learn it from their environments. Social anxiety disorder may be reflected from the interpersonal social influence phenomenon.

Intrapersonal Vulnerabilities

Interpersonal social influence can be considered in the case of social anxiety disorder because of the impact social acceptance or rejection, the environment, and the psychological influences that the person may be subject to. In many cases, people who suffer from social anxiety disorder have contracted this illness because of traumatizing events that have occurred in the sight of the person. Seeing how others are treated can cause a person to feel as if he or she dresses, behaves, or speaks like the bullied person, he or she will end up in the same sort of situation. The fear may seem irrational, but for a child to see his or her mother being beaten because of the way she dressed or served her mate, the fear is as real as life itself. Both cases of social disorders will need to be met with therapeutic intervention sometime in the subjects’ life span.

Therapeutic Intervention

Talking about feelings and impulses can help a person who suffers from antisocial personality disorder. However, not many cases are successful without medication, long-term psychotherapy, or hospitalization. Although there are no specific medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of antisocial personality disorder, there are medications that may be useful in Medicationcontrolling certain conditions that are associated with this disorder, such as antidepressants, mood-stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medication. People affected by antisocial personality disorder will need long-term assistance from doctors, family members, and psychotherapists. The same can also be said for people with social anxiety disorders. Because of the imbalance of serotonin levels that may be present in a person who suffers from social anxiety disorder, “Zoloft, Paxil, and Prozac” are often used to treat this disorder (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 68). People with social anxiety disorder also need to seek psychotherapy assistance.


Many people suffer from social dysfunction due to factors that involve their upbringing, environment, or chemical imbalances present at birth. Even though many of the people affected by these disorders may not function appropriately in society, they are able to obtain the medication and psychological assistance they need in order to become a part of society. Through psychotherapy and medication, many of the people affected with social disorders will show no signs of illness and will be able to maintain a normal life among friends, family, and co-workers. The main concept behind social dysfunction should be viewed as to how society, as a whole, treats its members.


Kowalski, R. & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology (5th ed.). Retrieved from University of Phoenix, PSY300 website.

WebMD, LLC. (2005-2012). Social anxiety disorder. Retrieved from

Image source for cartoon social anxiety: Slabiak, A. (2015). Social anxiety disorder. Retrieved from

Image source for intrapersonal attitudes phenomenon: Alcoholicsguide. (Posted: January 31, 2015). An interpersonal model of relapse – part 1. Retrieved from

Image source for medication: Richland County School District Two. (2014). Distribution of medication. Retrieved from

Image source for social anxiety disorder: Alprazolam Addiction Help. (2015). How Alprazolam abuse can mask antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved from

Image source for social anxiety disorder 2: Mayo Clinic. (Posted: June 19, 2015). Antisocial personality disorder. Retrieved from

Image source for social factors: Enginuity Search Media Inc. (2015). 8 Remarkable social business intelligence strategies. Retrieved from

Image source for sociopaths: The Open Mind. (Posted: February 21, 2015). Spotting the sociopath in your midst. Retrieved from

Social Influences on Behavior
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