How much does culture and lifestyle affect behavior?
A question that comes up frequently in many conversations is how does culture and lifestyle affect behavior? Culture is a set of shared beliefs and attitudes by a group of people whereas lifestyle is a chosen way of living. To question whether culture and lifestyle affect behavior is to imply erroneously that an individual has no responsibility for his/her behavior because of the culture and/or lifestyle. People’s values and beliefs inevitably affect their behaviors.
Culture and lifestyle choices are the outcomes of those values. We behave the way we do because we choose our personality, develop our character and express it through freewill. For example, drugs are freely consumed in Western cultures for recreational purposes and not much thought is given to the possible outcomes of such risky behaviors. Laws prohibit such conduct, but many of these individuals argue that freedom of choice is paramount in their decision to use drugs. Regardless of the drug addictions and the ensuing immoral and unethical conduct exhibited by these individuals they "continue to take drugs because they like what the drugs do and want to keep on taking more" (Richard Holllingham BBC News).
By now, we are all familiar with a popular and hotly debated theory by scholars in the fields of neurobiology and psychology called the addictive personality. Individuals exhibiting behaviors of the addictive personality engage in activities that are unethical and in some cases immoral. Often when faced with a loss of privileges or freedoms, personal responsibility is finally, but begrudgingly acknowledged.
Many of these addictive individuals expressed great pleasure in doing theses behaviors that they clearly knew were harmful and/or illicit and expressed extreme anger and frustration at a society that interfered with their pleasurable pastimes. Although, these behaviors are commonly thought of as diseases; neither fields of thought can clarify why certain behaviors classified as addictions: gambling, shopping, over-eating, lying and cheating are unable to be classified as neurological or biological disorders when clearly there must be some underlying cause for these destructive behaviors.
In both cases, pleasure seems to be the motivating factor. As these individuals experience the range of emotions from the cortex that influences behaviors, they choose to respond to the motivating emotion that offers the highest amount of stimulation. For example, as we experience emotions of rage, jealousy,
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