Through the Dimensions of Person, Environment, and Time
Attempting to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior, scientists have developed a multidimensional approach that includes observation of such influential factors of human life as person, environment and time.
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Although in reality those factors are inseparable from each other, it is possible to focus on them separately, and later on superpose them in a well-ordered image of one’s behavior.
An ideal case to analyze using multidimensional approach is the story of Sina (as presented in Hutchinson 2007), a woman who survived through the changing conditions of the time and the environment owing to her excellent personal characteristics.
From the dimension of person, Sina appears to possess an ideal combination of qualities to go through the hardships of her life. Biologically, her body is fit enough to survive the challenges of bearing five children in the extreme conditions of famine, hard toil, infectious diseases, and the stress of escape.
Despite all that, Sina still has enough milk to feed her children and enough energy to run through the jungle. Her psychological qualities also contribute to her success: being able to control emotions, Sina directs her mental efforts at finding the optimal way-out from the seemingly hopeless situation.
Using her persuasive leadership skills she convinces the whole family of the necessity to risk the escape; and once being in the USA, she uses her quick cognitive abilities to learn the language and adapt to the new reality (Hutchinson 2007).
The latter could not be possible without her determined yet flexible spiritual self: together with possessing a strong inner pivot and feeling of justice that did not allow Sina to put up with her misery, she is adaptable enough to integrate into the US society and accept its language, educational and even values.
Environment is the factor that continuously puts Sina to the test. For one thing, her physical environment constantly changes: from the comfort of her suburban life she is moved to the middle of nowhere to work in the rice fields; then she flees through the jungle and lives in a UN camp, to gain final comfort in the US suburban house (Hutchinson 2007).
The social institution of family is a strong supporting factor for Sina: surrounded at first by a large group of extended family, she loses many of her relatives during the hardship times, but the ones who survive maintain close contact and provide emotional support to each other.
It appears that due to personal characteristics of both, Sina and her husband have changed social roles: while Sina acts as a strong determined head of the family, her submissive partner is on the verge of a nervous breakdown ever since action was taken to resist the unfavorable life conditions.
Social relations also alter, as Sina gains more support from the state social services in the US and even receives financial help from a sponsor. US environment lets Sina develop herself in the spheres of education and work and reveal her leadership skills in practice.
Time is another decisive factor in Sina’s life: it seems that time speeds up and slows down depending on the life circumstances. Sina demonstrates a bright example of fast acculturation as she merges with the US society. She also experiences abrupt shifts in her life when evacuation, escape and resettlement occur.
She is able to efficiently survive those shifts due to her time orientation to the future: confessing that immigration to the US was necessary for the future of her children, Sina demonstrates an opposition to her husband’s time perception that is directed to the past (Hutchinson 2007).
The combination of personal, environmental, and time dimensions is decisive for success or failure in the challenges of life.
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Sina’s story appears to be a perfect example illustrating how those three factors interact and determine the course of one’s existence. Therefore it is crucial to foster the knowledge of those dimensions for a better understanding of human behavior.
Hutchinson, Elizabeth D. (2007). Dimensions of human behavior: Person and Environment (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.