Growing From Childhood into Adolescence: The Science of Cyber Behavior

Growing From Childhood into Adolescence: The Science of Cyber Behavior

Zheng Yan (State University of New York at Albany, USA) and Robert Z. Zheng (University of Utah, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1858-9.ch001
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In this theoretical review paper, the authors discuss five important issues about the science of cyber behavior as a field of scientific research. First, they argue that the science of cyber behavior as a field of research is entering its adolescence after growing from its childhood, but before spearheading into its adulthood. The paper reviews the current understanding of human behavior in general and state that behavior sciences have generated extensive knowledge about human behavior theoretically, empirically, and methodologically across multiple disciplines. Next, the authors focus on cyber communication as an example to illustrate current knowledge about various types of cyber behaviors. They showcase exemplary research programs on cyber behavior in four disciplines of behavioral sciences, social psychology, cognitive psychology, communication studies, and sociology. Finally, the paper outlines future research programs in five major directions for further development of the field. Taking the opportunity to commemorate the inaugural issue of the International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning, the authors attempt to draw the first sketch of the science of cyber behavior from the perspective of history of science.
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What Do We Know About Human Behavior?

To best understand cyber behavior in a broad theoretical context, it is useful to distinguish three pairs of concepts, behavior vs. environment, human behavior vs. animal behavior, and cyber behavior vs. real-life behavior.

First, behavior, often in relation to the environment, refers to the actions or reactions of an object or organism in the real-life environment. Behavior can be conscious or subconscious, positive or negative, overt or covert, and voluntary or involuntary.

Second, human behavior, often in relation to animal or machine behavior, is generally defined as the collection of behaviors exhibited by human beings in the environment (e.g., driving, fighting, teaching, communicating) rather than by animals or machines. It is influenced by various factors such as culture, attitudes, emotions, values, ethics, authority, rapport, persuasion, coercion and/or genetics.

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