Anti-social behavior is defined as any action or actions that violate what is socially acceptable in ways that reflect disrespect or disregard for others, or violation of the rights of other people.
The primary reason why people study anti-social behavior is the harm it causes to others.
Also, another reason why people study anti-social behavior is to raise the question of whether some humans are inherently prone to pose a threat to others or whether people who are harmful or reckless can find a cure.
Difference and examples of anti-social behavior
Anti-social behavior is made up of a wide range of habits and practices such as bullying, initiating physical fights, being reckless towards others, lying to other people for personal gains, and even engaging in unlawful activities that do not hurt others directly, but indirectly harm people such as vandalizing own property or stealing.
A distinction among the different anti-social behaviors is whether the act is Covert or overt. That is to say, whether the action is hidden from other people. A second distinction is whether or not the behavior is a destructive one, whether it directly causes harm to someone else.
For instance, harmful overt actions include bullying, physical or verbal aggression, threatening, fighting, being cruel, being spiteful, and ostracizing or rejecting another person.
Some examples of non-destructive overt anti-social acts include stubbornness, arguing, having a short temper with others. Some examples of destructive covert actions include lying, stealing, destroying properties, and cheating.
Also, there are not destructive over anti-social actions, which might include truancy, swearing, and substance use.
When you want to consider the most or least harmful of anti-social acts, overt destructive activities at the most severe, followed by covert destructive actions, and then we have the overt non-destructive actions, and lastly, the non-destructive covert operations.
It has been discovered that boys and men are often the perpetrators of anti-social behaviors and women and girls. They also differ in what they do to a large extent.
Male humans have a higher likelihood of engaging in covert aggression and criminal activity. At the same time, females are more likely to participate in the harm caused by damaging a peer’s reputation or relational aggression.
Prevalence and persistence of anti-social behavior
A large percentage of men who engage in anti-social activities, do so especially during their teenage or Adolescent years.
Anti-social behaviors have been discovered to be very common during adolescence that a majority of males do one thing or another that is anti-social such as having contact with police for infringement.
Almost one-third of Adolescent boys are labeled delinquent before they turn 18. However, most of these boys change from their anti-social ways before their mid-20s. This kind of anti-social behavior is known as adolescence-limited anti-social behavior.
In contrast, the life-course-persistent anti-social behavior, which is the type that continues throughout a person’s life, is only found in a small percentage of people.
Men with a life-course-persistent anti-social behavior will show tendencies during their infancy, and this will continue with them throughout their lives.
People like these are typically diagnosed with an anti-social personality disorder because of the persistent pattern of frequency in their anti-social behavior as adult humans.
Causes and treatment for anti-social behavior
Because of the apparent adverse effects of anti-social behavior, especially for victims, but also for the perpetrators, in-depth research has been carried out towards understanding the possible causes of anti-social behavior and possible ways of treatment.
Research and theory for the understanding of who and who is more likely to engage in the anti-social act has given birth to two variety of views bringing to life the nature vs. nurture debate.
One point of view is that there are biological factors present at a person’s birth, such as inherent personality traits and genes, which function has the most crucial determinant of anti-social behavior.
On the flip side, the other view emphasizes that environmental factors such as peer relationships, weak family ties, parenting Styles, lack of education, and poverty may be responsible for determining anti-social behavior.
It is essential to understand the distinction between life-course-persistent anti-social behavior and adolescence-limited anti-social behavior if we must understand the causes of these actions.
When there is an omission of this distinction, analysis that integrates information from several studies suggest that between 40 to 50% of studied instances of anti-social behavior may be as a result of genetic influence instead of Environmental impacts.
Nevertheless, studies do not capture every instance of anti-social actions or behaviors, and will likely over-represent sufferers whose anti-social tendencies are constant over time.
People whose anti-social behavior continues throughout their life have a higher likelihood to possess brains that are conditioned towards anti-social behavior, which, when paired with the right environmental factors and expectations from society and other people, will trigger anti-social behavior.
Those whose anti-social behavior is limited to adolescence may only suffer from being socially or emotionally immature. As a result, they become vulnerable to the influence of peers and models.
Besides, when it comes to the heritability of anti-social behavior, it all depends on the actions that are under examination. It has been found that poverty crimes have a more significant genetic influence than violent crimes.
If it becomes almost impossible to prevent anti-social behavior, it becomes essential to stop it. Generally, prevention techniques to put an end to life-course-persistent anti-social behavior have had little or no success.
The conditions are so adverse that even medical treatments have proven to be ineffective. Also, individuals with this kind of anti-social behavior are always reluctant to ask for help and are typically court-ordered into receiving treatment.
However, for those who engage in adolescence-limited anti-social behavior, interventions have proven to be more successful, especially treatment based on teaching them behavioral skills instead of counseling.
Implications of anti-social behavior
Ultimately, what researchers do is to study the causes, nature, and limits of anti-social behavior for them to understand whether individuals are naturally reckless or harmful towards other people or whether these individuals can be treated.
Although progress has been recorded when it comes to identifying possible causes of anti-social behavior, the problem of predicting with certainty which individuals will engage in such behaviors has remained unresolved.
Nevertheless, effective treatment for lifelong or persistent anti-social behavior is still in its baby stage and can be further developed.
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