Situation Determinants of Behavior
When people see some behavior they do not like, .they often attribute it to evil human nature, wicked impulse, weak character, or
some other individual cause. What separates the sociologist from others here is the sociologist's habit of looking for social factors in the causation of behavior. True, ~hen one individual or a few people change in character or behavior, the explanations may be purely individual. But when any large number of people is character or behavior in the same direction, the probable cause is some
change In social and cultural influences upon behavior. A major part of social control consists of efforts to manipulate the behavior situation, for most people will respond with the kind of behavior the situation encourages. This is true to a far greater degree than most people recognize. . One's behavior in a particular situation is usually a result of the needs, pressures, and temptations of that situation. There is ample evidence that many people who would not cheat a blind newspaper vendor will cheat
the supermarket if they get a chance to do so; a little cheating on one's income tax is apparently engaged in by practically everybody soldiers who did not rob their neighbors back home "liberated" many articles from the enemy population: people do things as part of a mob which they would never do as individuals. War atrocities are committed .by all armies, induding American armies [Taylor, 1970]. Whether a surrendering enemy is shot or taken prisoner depends more upon circumstances at the moment of surrender than upon the character of the capturing troops [Draper, 1945]. Kinsey's data show that most civilian husbands are faithful to their wives, at least most of the time; but it appears that most overseas military personnel, during long separations from their wives, , seized almost any attractive opportunity for infidelity .
Labor union officials believe in labor unions-except for their own employees So when staff employees of the large unions seek to organize and bargain collectively with their bosses, these union official-bosses seem to react just like any -other employers, even
crossing picket lines when their office workers go on strike. [Business Week, March 21, 1971, p. 31]. And when union staff workers go on strike, they act just like any other workers on strike; thus in Michigan, several local chapters of the Michigan Education Association were unable to get the aid of MEA staff negotiators in bargaining with their local school boards because the MEA staff was on strike against the MEA [Cote, 1977]. Finally, when union membership and dues fall off, unions layoff staff members just as business corporations ' do [Wall Street [aurnal, Feb. 23, 1982, p. 1]. Argyles  reports that, "As a sociological experiment, two Detroit ministers went to work on an assembly line and soon found themselves cheating on quality, lying to their foremen and swearing at the machines " Their new work situation carried pressures and frustrations to which they responded like any other workers. Illustrations of how the total behavior situation affects behavior outcome could be multiplied almost without end. Many
are found in Chapter 19, "Collective Behavior and Social Movements."