Behaving "In Context"

An evolutionary view of life is useful when studying love, deception, and romance because it reveals a lot about our human nature.

It reveals that most of our behaviors are driven by the specific circumstances in which we find ourselves.

In other words, our "behavior happens in context." We react to most situations without much thought about what we are doing (see Cole & Teboul).

For example, our willingness to help others is greatly influenced by their appearance. We go out of our way to help individuals who are beautiful while we are much less likely to help strangers who happen to be less attractive.

Research shows that if a stranger falls down in public and needs help – we will go out of our way to help an attractive stranger, but most of us will ignore someone in need if they happen to be unattractive. In fact, people have even tried to step over an unattractive stranger in need, while racing to help an attractive person in the same situation.

This example illustrates what we mean when we say that our "behavior happens in context." We react to situations when we are in them. And in many cases we are not fully aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Again, most people do not like to acknowledge this. Most of us do not like to admit that our willingness to help others is sometimes based on stranger’s beauty, not their need (see self deception).

But whether we like it or not, our behavior is often influenced by the situations we encounter and often we do not fully understand why we behave the way we do.

At the end of the day, the environment we are in and the emotions we experience (governed by adaptations) influence our behavior – "we behave in context."

We can say that we are going to lose weight, but actually eat more, we can tell ourselves that we are going to stop smoking, but smoke more, we can make vows about being faithful, but...

Making promises, trying to change our beliefs, and trying to muster our will power does not change behavior. Behavior is influence by the environment. The best way to change behavior is to change the environment or situations in which you place yourself.