31 July 2011

Nature VS Nurture

           Human behaviour is an integral part of our daily life. Yet, most of us do not understand why people do what they do or how behaviour come into existence. In the view of social scientists, behaviour is a product of three major forces – biology, psychology and social stimulus. Now, we will look at just how deep these stimuli affect our behaviour.

            From a biologist’s perspective, everything we are and do are results of how we were programmed to act biologically. This pre-installed programme is what we refer to as the exact likeliness to the blueprints of a building except that it lays the foundation for human behaviour not a house. The blueprints embedded in our genetic make-up determine what we will become, how we would look, our pattern of growth as well as how we behave.

            Tiger and Fox claimed that biogrammar is the main reason man are ‘aggressive and masculine’ while women are ‘caring and feminine’. In 1971, Goy and Phoenix experimented with rhesus monkeys to prove their theory. They claim (in accordance to the results of their experiment) that female monkeys given extra androgens (hormones taken from male monkeys) display rougher attitude. The opposite observation was made when male monkeys were injected with progesterone and oestrogen. The males become more submissive and less aggressive.

            Logically, it is quite plausible to say that we were created prior to being born into this world. However, this argument has a downside to it. First of all, if genetic information is the key to our behaviour and if let’s say every individual with the same genetic contents will act in a similar pattern, how do you answer for identical twins that grow up so differently? What of individuals brought up in a criminal family (with the assumption he or she inherits criminal genes) that turn into decent, law-abiding citizens? These are just two of many questions that cannot be answered by biologists.

            Next, we take a look at the psychological argument of this debate. Psychologists have taken a somewhat safer side in their argument. They say that yes, biological identity do have a say in how we behave but it does not encompass the entire reality. They added that while biology lays the foundation, it is society that shapes the output of human behaviour.

            To prove their arguments, psychologists investigated the occurrence of crime in society. They came up with a very interesting find. Among these findings is the higher probability to perform criminal acts when individuals come from a criminally active family or lineage. They also gathered statistics of crime in relation to climate. Amazingly, warmer climates are accompanied with higher crime rates. On further investigation, they found out that warmer surroundings mean higher production of aggression related hormones such as epinephrine and testosterone.

            However, higher proneness to crime does not necessarily mean you have a guaranteed place in jails and lower probability also do not indicate that you will never turn over to the dark side. Other factors – economic stability, lack of faith, family support, peer groups, love, exposure to violence etc – also come into account. In fact, these social factors play a bigger part in determining the outcome.  In other words, psychologists tend to lean more into the third side of the debate, the sociologists’ perspective.

            To sociologists, human behaviour is shaped by social forces alone.  They do not neglect the fact that biological programming is important but they argued that its contribution in shaping behaviour is minute in comparison to social forces. One important observation was made by Albert Bandura. He experimented on children exposed to different situations. Both children were exposed to a model. The model (a woman) was to exhibit two different actions on the same doll in front of the two subjects separately. Both children were then let in the room with the doll while an observer looks on through a one-way looking glass panel. The results were immediate.

            The boy exposed to aggressive model tends to be more dangerous in his behaviour. He kicked, punched and did the doll with similar actions as shown by the model. Sometimes, he went overboard and did far worse than was initially illustrated by the model. He also started making use of aggressive words. On the contrary, the other child showed no such behaviour. This proves that the role learning theory applies to human beings especially children. Children see, children do.

            Sociologists also explain human behaviour by stressing the importance of socialisation. Socialisation is the life-long process of learning a society’s norms and values and adapting oneself into the particular society. Divided into two stages – primary and secondary – this process is what has shaped you and me into what we are today. Primary socialisation happens in childhood. Children emulate what they see, hear, and understand from their surroundings. This process is clearly shown in A. Bandura’s experiment aforementioned.

            Functionalists see individual behaviour as a product of society as a whole. In their eyes, society has a need to maintain social order. To attain this goal, society creates roles that are played by individuals in the society. This, in turn, establishes the norms of a society and the norms ensure individual behaviour is standardised and do not deviate from the general expectation of the public. In this view, they are saying that people behave because the society as a whole is governing each individual’s behaviour. When and if deviance occurs, society will correct itself and social order will then be restored.

            Differently, interactionists see human behaviour as a product of how the individuals understand the society. According to George Herbert Mead, people will tend to act in ways that are consistent with the expected behaviour in a particular role. Doctors understand that they should value life and therefore doctors try to heal, parents understand that they must keep food on the table and so they do not let their children starve, teachers understand their roles in society and they teach.

            When humans do not understand or understand the society differently is when they would act differently. Children deprived of social interaction with human beings become less human or show no human emotion at all. This is particularly true for feral children. Oxana Malaya, an 8-year-old child was cared by stray dogs. This was reflected clearly in her dog-like behaviour. She could not speak and relate to human emotions, walked on all-fours, sniffed at her food and developed acute senses just like that of a dog. This shows that without socialisation, we would not be human in behaviour.

            Another strong point of argument came from Ann Oakley. She puts an emphasis on proving that gender roles were manmade and not subject to our biological sex. A prove of this came from an observation made by Margaret Mead. In her book Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies, Mead said, “Among the Arapesh, both men and women were peaceful in temperament and neither men nor women made war. Among the Mundugumor, the opposite was true: both men and women were warlike in temperament. And the Tchambuli were different from both. The men spent time decorating themselves while the women worked and were the practical ones – the opposite of how it seemed in early 2oth century America.” Again, this showed that behaviour is not biologically programmed.

            Further merit on the sociologists’ view came from Ann Oakley’s criticism on Goy and Phoenix’s studies on rhesus monkeys. She pointed out that hormone levels did cause a shift in behaviour but the first piece of the puzzle was missing. What caused the hormone levels to change if the monkeys were not under human surveillance? The answer was simply social context. Ruth Bleier objects the use of monkeys altogether quoting it as dangerous to presume that the same conclusion can be applied to humans.

            All in all, humans have not come close to weeding out the one major cause for human behavioural patterns. However, it is safe to assume that all three factors play a role in shaping our behaviour albeit to what extent still lies in shadows. Personally, and based on scientific evidence, biology may have laid the basis of our actions, but it is the process of socialisation or rather the social forces that ultimately shape what we do.

28 July 2011

Second Try

Sorry for not being able to write as much or as often. I'll try once more & hopefully this time I'll nail the note on the line! :)

22 July 2011

Stupid Temptation. Stupid Crash

Chill laa, it's only 2 pages of writing right? It's only a few hours of your night's sleep gone down the drain right? It's not like you can't re-do right?


Next time I'm writing my essays on Blogger, at least they save your work every few key strokes...

20 July 2011

One Footed Man

The land spread open beneath him. It was the aftermath on a seemingly endless fight. At the end of the massacre lay a sea of bodies - troops divided just a second ago, now hugging each other close for what warmth still remain in the lifeless bodies of friends and foes - with eyes that show no sign of life.

And in the midst of it all, stood one man. The tallest monument that can be seen for miles and miles. He was crippled. And he is the one footed man. He, who walked nevertheless. One step at a time. Pushing. Shoving. Driving. What a scene to behold!

Look at me. Able-bodied and strong, but lack the drive nor do I possess the strength to push an inch forwards in paper. May we swap roles, oh one footed man?

...What good will it do? Nothing I say..

17 July 2011

Battle Lost

Not in the mood to write. The title says all.

16 July 2011

Twist, Turn, Stay Up All Night

A switch is in place. Tonight, to turn oneself into the opposite. It's been some time now since I've done this. I don't know if I can do it anymore.

Remembering the first struggle half a decade ago on the first night. Difficult doesn't even come close to describing the experience. But since then, I've done it dozens of times. There was even a time when it was so natural it took no effort at all.

But that time has long gone...

Months of over-comfort and staying on the low has reaped my ability to do what I can in the past. Now, I must start from square one. Just like that night 5 years ago. Tonight, I'll go to war. Tomorrow, one of us will emerge victorious, the other - a fallen entity - broken.

Let the switching begin! Let's see who breaks and who stands!

15 July 2011

To Live Life Live

You live today to see tomorrow,
You live yesterday to taste today,
You live tomorrow to remember today,
You live life to feel alive,
You live a dead man's life,
The moment you see yesterday today.
And the moment you see tomorrow no day.

14 July 2011

Cleanse And Fall

This post is none other than a response to the pleas of someone dear to me. Know that you're not alone. Never alone :)


Where am I? Oh, just another dream. But it was too vivid. And I'm still sweating from the rush of it all. Shrugging of the sleepiness, I pulled my heavy frame from the bean bag. I really need to stop watching all those crap on TV. They're trash. They get into your mind and dig into your brain. Urggh! 

Making my way to the washroom with nothing to guide me but the familiarity of experience and countless of years living in this room. Effortlessly I waived my way through the mess that was my own doing - clothes strewn all across the wooden board (man, do they need a wash or what...), books turned brown not from reading but plain old lack of human touch, crumpled papers from the previous night overflowing the rubbish bin and the mountain of plugs, wires, chargers and other knacks criss-crossing the floor like a thousand boas lying silently in wait for its next victim.Me.

Thump! Ouch!

You didn't see that did you? No, you couldn't have. How could you in this dark room? Freaking things! Why can't you arrange yourselves neatly?

Luckily, I'm so close to the door that the sliver of white light coming through the gap was enough to tell me quite accurately where I should be heading. Great, the tap. Dripping. Again. I'm broke, and yet I didn't even bother to stop what little money I have from dripping out of my tap. Drip. Drip. Drip. And with each drop, the hole in my pocket is enlarged. 

With a quick wash of my face, the details came, driving out all the sleep out of me and a splash of colour was painted unto my world. Looking up, a man with long, messy, slightly coloured hair stared at me. His eyes were dark brown, beautiful and fierce to look at but at the moment, he wore an expression of pure weariness that took out all grandeur from his handsome face. Heck, he looked pathetic even. And the long dark line underneath his eyes didn't help make him look any better.

I'm sick of looking at this man. Turning away from the reflection, turning away from the truth, I lead myself into the dark confines of my room. But the other man did not turn his back. Instead, he stayed his spot, seeing the door close shut, a thin wooden door resembling all that was and is - a separation of two.

Little did I know, the door I so often keep shut will soon open. And far from realizing did I that this time, I won't be able to close it. Just then, with a loud BANG the door behind me flew outwards! Light flooded the compound and at the base of my feet stood two shadows - one pinned to my legs, the other unusually long and tall, slightly to my right. 

"Hey, bub. Long time no see," and immediately I know the owner of that hoarse voice. It's my voice...

10 July 2011

Long Time No Hair

Hahaha, I know the title sounds funny but hey, what can I do? :)

A long line of regrets go to those of you not here to see me in the flesh. I hope we'll see one another soon enough.

Truth be told, I miss you guys like hell. Gone were the times we would play futsal while cramping the tiny space we had with God-knows-how-many people played each evening. Gone were the days we would run through the desert others call field laughing ourselves shitless while chasing ball. Gone were the days when the whole world went off after the Friday prayers - where the compound seemed ghostly and no sound permeates the halls of knowledge.

I miss those days...

What I would give to experience it just once more. To feel the sleepiness creeping up on my body. To sing and shout at the top of our lungs in the dead of night. To live with vampires and werewolves and ghouls of the night. To be in the company of friends all through till morning. And then to look at others' faces - tired and worn, barely able to muster the slightest of focus, and then to blur out of focus. All the while nodding in unison. There but absent.

What I would give to walk those corridors I grew up to love. Where we ran and played at night. Where we learned and mingled in the day. Where memories - sweet, sour, salty and bitter - were made and buried. How I long for the day we would all stand together as one. Day, come fast. Let me smile again. Put that hair back where it came from. And then split us as you will, only for the cycle to begin anew. Until one day. The day we follow in the footsteps of our one friend who has gone with the wind.

Footsteps dug into the sands. They disappear just as fast as they appear. An ever-present subject, always behind us. Imitating our every moment, each step of the way. Morning. Noon. Then evening comes bringing with it the orange tinge of sunset. There he is! Our friend! Leading us into the sunset. Shifting from the solid person he is into a silhouette of black into a tiny speck of dot. At last, night.


09 July 2011

Back to Basics!

Yup! You heard me! Sorry, got to go. Lots to do, limited time. Chowza!

05 July 2011

Perlu ke?

Okay, tak banyak benda aku nak perkatakan. Just that, perlu ke semua nak touching pasal hal-hal kecik?

Socialization at childhood stage: FAIL! Siapa yang hendak dipersalahkan? Sejujurnya, aku pun tak tahu. Lantak lah, aku pun ada hidup sendiri. Banyak lagi hal aku nak kena fikirkan. Kalau umur pun sudah macam tu, rasanya tak perlu lah nak diajar lagi membanding beza baik buruk patut tak patut. Otak ada, pandai-pandai guna ya!

Maaflah kalau aku tersilap kata, terkasar bahasa. Tapi macam mana kalau aku senyap je pun kau nak simpan perasaan marah? Tak puas hati, cakap je. Aku boleh terima. Ini tidak. Senyap bagai tunggul, muka nak ketat. Koyak kulit baru tau...

02 July 2011

Stretch & Burn

Party all night, sleep all day! That's what I call my weekend. Only it's not such a hot party mainly because I'm home alone. Sad ain't it?

Anyhow, this is just an intro. The real post starts below:

Surely, I don't know how long this hurdle is going to stay here. It's been turning on and off for some time now. And just when I thought it was over, a tiny spark is seen, ending up with a flare and a boom and a pop and a bang!

And with that, comes the painfully familiar relief of water, accompanied by the guilt and misery of knowing that it was I who destroyed my own creation. What a pain..

It is one thing to see your hardwork and efforts go down the drain at the hands of an enemy. It is another thing to watch on the sidelines as your life's work go poof, and waking up looking into your face - the destroyer - and with blood on your own two hands.

Wash it as you may, the continuous red flow might go away but the guilt and scars remain. The cycle then continues. Again. And again. And again. And again.

Not anymore! I've suffered the burn for the last time. This battle has just gone up a notch, and I am not going to be on the losing end!

I'm all fired up and ready. This means war!!