The term "human behavior" covers the physical, mental and social activity of an individual or group, classified as common, unusual, acceptable or outside acceptable behaviors. Influences on behavior include culture, emotion, values, coercion and genetics. The broadness of this field requires different types of scientist to cover the different areas.
Anthropologists study and compare human behavior in different cultures, and how people in these cultures develop and communicate. Their work provides a better understanding of modern life. Anthropologists may travel to countries where people are living in primitive conditions and examine how humans have changed during basic interactions. Other anthropologists work in developed countries, comparing regional differences.
The funding for anthropological research is dependent on the decisions of the federal government, universities and foundations. Most anthropologists work in universities, where they write, edit and produce papers; conduct fieldwork; teach; and confer with colleagues.
Sociologists examine human behavior within groups of people, such as in social, political, religious and economic situations. Sociologists are interested in the interactions between individuals, as well as the origin and progression of social groups. This area of human behavior encompasses many aspects, including education, family, gender, racial and ethnic relations, and war and peace. Most sociologists specialize in one or two areas.
Psychologists study human thought processes and how these affect the way an individual acts. They also attempt to explain the reasons for various human behaviors. Psychologists often conduct research to develop theories on behavioral patterns that allow them to make predictions about future behavior.
In contrast to other studies concerned with human behavior, psychologists focus on the behavior of individuals, especially the beliefs and feelings that have an impact on actions.
Economists study how human behavior affects the economy, using data and statistics. They use this information to provide advice about how to improve productivity in a system or benefit from new trends by predicting changes in economic behavior.
Economics is very theoretical, and professionals often share ideas with one another. Most economists work in universities and research groups, while the remaining jobs are in the government. International economists develop theories about global markets, so may spend up to 30 percent of their work time traveling.