Citation: Huitt, W. (1996). My viewpoint on human nature and human behavior. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from

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My view or philosophy of human beings and human nature has been developed from a systems and cybernetics perspective. I see human beings as having both biological and spiritual components with simultaneously operating predispositions that influence behavior and development. Human beings have a number of biological factors that propel us to search for patterns and seek homeostasis or balance within ourselves and with our environment. At the same time we have a spiritual inclination to search for unknowns, to develop our unique capacities and spiritual powers (to know, to love, to will), to transcend ourselves, and to have meaningful relationships with and make a meaningful contribution to civilization (or the human world). Feedback from the environment and from our perceptions, reflections, and feelings provide critical information that guides our learning. We develop our individual powers through interaction with our environment and through personally applying such growth and knowledge acquisition techniques as observation, reflection, and prayer. We develop our social powers by giving and contributing to others (doing good deeds.)

From this perspective, each individual can be thought of as a multifacted gem (a ruby, sapphire, emerald, diamond, etc.) or as a combination of many valuable gems or attributes that must be properly cut and cleaned (educated and disciplined) in order to actualize his or her full potential and allow the individual to make a contribution to society. The value of the gem will depend somewhat on the context within which it is placed and the position/viewpoint of the viewer. Another analogy would be that of a seed. The individual seed has capacity that is unique to that seed. That capacity will only be developed in an atmosphere that includes the proper nutrients and conditions for growth. The family, the educator, the leaders of the religious organizations, as well as the individual learner have a primary responsibility to actively participate in the process of the personal development of young people. The community and other social organizations have an important, though secondary, responsibility in this development. Like Maslow, I believe that the actualization of potential creates new potential in an infinitely expanding process.

Following these analogies, educators, in my opinion, have chosen to become professional jewelers or gardeners. Their task is to work with individuals to draw out and develop natural beauty, worth, and valuable qualities. Each individual will be placed in a setting (family, workplace, society, culture) in which he or she can make a contribution and the educator must consider this setting when implementing educational programs. As jewelers and gardeners, we can focus on the flaws that every gem or plant is bound to have or we can choose to focus on the positive qualities that are also there.

The Systems Model of Human Behavior presented in this course is a rough, unsophisticated, overly simplified attempt to combine multiple views of human beings into a coherent, meaningful whole. This framework will serve as an organizing construct to the topics normally discussed in educational psychology. Each individual is encouraged to develop his or her own viewpoint or philosophy and a corresponding model of human beings that can serve as a guide to the development and selection of educational curricula and methods.

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