Conduct and behavior

Both conduct and behavior are terms used to refer to the actions or reactions that a subject has when interacting with the environment . The actions of a subject depend both on external stimuli, as well as on his own attitude. Both terms, then, are related to the interaction between a subject and a context.

However, it is common for behavior to be associated with the actions that a living being has, following some internal motive , against its context. That is, the behavior implies a kind of guide or posture on which the acts are based when interacting with the environment.

In the case of behavior , this is made up of the actions and reactions of living beings to stimuli.

DefinitionIt is any action or reaction of a living being to a stimulus in some context.Like behavior, it is an action or reaction to a context.
According to its etymologyFrom the Latin conductus , past participle of conducire , which means ‘action of directing or guiding something or someone’, as well as ‘taking with you’.From Latin, I will carry , together with the suffix – mento , which means the ‘result of carrying or carrying something with someone in the company of someone’.
DeterminationThe idea that there is a guide, orientation, or pattern.The idea that there is something that is carried inside from one place to another.

What is conduct?

The behavior is the act or react in a subject to any stimulus in context. The behavior is observable and manifests itself in the outside world.

The word conduct and behavior are interchangeable terms in the field of psychology, with subtle differences that vary according to the authors or professionals in use, but which are not officially established.

In everyday life, behavior is associated with a way of acting according to certain patterns or orientations. This implies a kind of guide or posture and that the actions carried out by the subjects, when interacting with the world, are premeditated.

Etymology of conduct

The word conduct comes from the Latin conducire , specifically from the past participle conductus , made up of the prefix con which means ‘in company of’, ‘together’, and from ductus , which means ‘to guide’, ‘direct’, ‘command’ . Thus, this word means the ‘act of guiding or directing’.

During the 15th to 17th centuries the meaning of the word conduct was used to refer to the act of guiding someone, to some place or through some path. In addition, a little later, it would be used with the sense of directing, specifically in the field of music. In use, the behavior involved taking someone with them, guiding them somewhere (as in “safe conduct”).

Thus, the word conduct is related to words such as driving, driver, conduit, etc., which have that sense of guiding.

It was towards the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 18th century that it would be used to talk about the actions of a subject in front of an environment, as a synonym for behavior.

Thus, according to its etymology, behavior can be understood as a way of acting that follows some pattern, orientation or guide . In this way, behavior tends to be an action that is influenced by external elements. The way a living being behaves (or an object that interacts with a medium) would be influenced by past events or experiences.

What is behavior?

Like behavior, behavior is the set of responses and actions that a subject takes in the face of the environmental conditions in which it is found. These responses are derived from the stimuli that a living being receives from the external or internal environment.

The word behavior is used as a synonym for behavior in different areas of knowledge, particularly in psychology.

Sometimes one of these terms is used to define the other, or with minor differences that depend on the author’s point of view.

Behavioral etymology

The word behavior comes from Latin and is composed of the prefix con- , which means’ in the company of ‘or’ together ‘, de portare , which means’ to carry, and the suffix -mento , which means’ medium’ or ‘result’ .

Thus, according to its etymology, behavior is the ‘ result of carrying (carrying something) with you in someone’s company’ .

The formation of the word behavior, as can be seen, is related to the verb “behave”, which means ‘endure’, ‘tolerate’ or ‘endure’, as well as ‘bring together’ (with someone). That is to say, behaving is spoken of as the act of enduring suffering or some weight, which is carried within or shared.

It is important to note that the Latin word portare can be translated as ‘carry’, but with the sense of ‘carry’. In this case, its meaning can be observed in words such as aircraft carrier or clipboard, since they imply an object that “carries” (cargo) something inside.

It was already at the end of the 16th century that this word would take the meaning of acting or reacting in a certain way to a context.

Characteristics of the conduct or behavior

The conduct or behavior refers, basically, to any action that is carried out in the world. Here are some of its main features:

  • Es observable.
  • It is an action and / or reaction to external or internal stimuli.
  • There may be an orientation or pattern that is followed.
  • It is influenced by the genetic makeup of an organism and by experience.
  • It can be modified.
  • It is possible to measure it.

The conduct or behavior is, generally, observable and it is estimated that it is related to the attitude that living beings take (or that motivates them) towards a pattern or orientation, causing them to act in a certain way. This takes into account an internal element of the subjects that controls their actions in the outside world.

That is, there may be a motivation behind the actions of an individual when faced with a stimulus . This means that the behavior can be motivated by a purpose or objective.

Likewise, considering the internal motivations of a subject, behavior is also related to the way in which a person faces a context according to pre-established parameters.

For example, when you talk about actions that are accepted or should be followed in the classroom, you talk about school behavior.

In this way, the behavior acquires an active meaning, in which the subject demonstrates in his behavior a way of being when interacting with the environment in which he is, be it social or natural.

However, behavior is not only expressed in observable actions performed by a living being or organism, but also through covert conduct or behavior (unobservable actions).

This covert behavior is only transmissible through an in-depth observation made by another person or if the subject communicates it.

Behavior is influenced by the genetic inheritance of the living being and the interaction it has with the outside world and internal changes. This means that, even though it is inherited, it can be modified (for example, through learning).

As the conduct or behavior is observable and is translated into concrete actions of a subject, it is measurable (it can be quantified and studied).


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), psychology is the study of the mind and behavior.

The conduct (or behavior) is translated as the concrete actions of a subject, and psychology can, through this, obtain objective data of said actions.

The behaviorism is a current within psychology that rejects introspection and promotes objective facts observation and experimentation. In Spanish it is also known as behaviorism , behavior psychology and behavioral psychology.

This current was introduced as such by the American psychologist John B. Watson (1878-1958) in the article Psychology as seen by the behaviorist (1913). Watson’s proposal was that psychology be part of the natural sciences, with a methodology that allows observing, experimenting, predicting and controlling behavior.

Before behaviorism, psychology was more concerned with the study of people’s mental or psychic phenomena, as well as their emotions. But it was not possible for psychologists to observe such phenomena, since the research was based on introspection. Thus, the analysis of behaviorism revolved around observable and verifiable facts, such as physical, motor and verbal manifestations.

Although behaviorism gained strength at the beginning of the 20th century, it was also criticized by cognitive psychology for neglecting internal processes, specifically cognitive phenomena.

In addition, it was questioned because the observable phenomena in the behavior of a living being, in a social environment, are difficult to replicate in the laboratory.

Learning and its relation to conduct or behavior

There are three ways in which behaviors or behaviors are acquired. These are classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning.

The classical conditioning occurs when one occurs association between two stimuli . This type of conditioning was originally studied by the Russian physiologist and psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936).

A well-known example of this type of conditioning occurs when a dog is taught to respond to associate a sound with the presence of food. It was precisely Pavlov who carried out this experiment, conditioning a dog to respond to the stimulus (sound), with food.

The operant conditioning is learning by which behavior is conditioned by the consequences of the same . This was studied by the American psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) and it was about observing what kind of behavioral response a subject would have, depending on whether they received a favorable or undesirable stimulus.

For example, a mouse is locked in a container, where there is a button, and it perceives the smell of food. The mouse tries to get the food, but is unable to do so unless the button is pressed. When the mouse is pressed, the food is accessible. The mouse then repeats the action, without taking any more time, since it now knows what to do. In this case, the behavior of the mouse has been conditioned by a positive stimulus.

The observational learning observational or is one in which one learns subject copying the observed behaviors . It is not properly within the behaviorist current, but it is influenced by it.

This type of learning was theorized by the Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura (1925-) and is about the alteration of a behavior in an individual caused by the behavior of a model (individual or group).

When a girl or boy copies the behavior of older people and imitates the actions they perform, it is an example of observational learning. Likewise, when you teach someone to repair a car, showing the steps necessary to check an engine, you are facing this type of learning.

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