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Assignment 1 -Literature Report: 1,000 words – based on ‘bio-psycho-social’explanations of behaviour. Essay Example

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Bio-Psychosocial Model: Literature Report



With advancement in science and technology, psychology has grown with the knowledge that mental health does encompass not just one factor but many such as psychological factors (emotions, thoughts, and behaviors), biological factors, and social factors. With such a view, psychology should adopt the bio-psychosocial model.

The bio-psychosocial model was theorized by George Engel systematically considering biological, social and elements and how they interact to well understand health issues and health care delivery. This model is an integrative, elegant and comprehensive model that has allowed the major life to be addressed. This includes: bio, which stands for biology, psycho which mainly involves the strength of counselors and social which includes social justice, family theory and systems from psychotherapy perspectives. Recently, the bio-psychosocial model has become a concept to conjure with (Burns 2010).

This model has been criticized in several ways. It conceptualizes the hierarchical systems of nature at different levels. This is also according to General system theory which posits that these factors exist along a continuum of natural systems. However; he does not go into details to discuss what exactly happens when any two or more systems interact. In present years, happiness research has been on the increase by the scientists. Most psychologists have noted that the causes of happiness cannot be concluded. As an alternative, a complex relationship between environment and genes, circumstances and life events, goals, personality, culture and various coping and adaptive strategies. It is suggested that people adjust their expectations and goals and use rationalizations and illusions to maintain a well positive happiness. Happiness is actually associated with wellbeing and ill being.


Happiness or the wellbeing of someone is also influenced by the social aspects of life. According to Yang (2008), the study has shown that happiness is mainly controlled by satisfaction and social acceptance. Fiori and colleagues (2006) observed that individuals are affected by different social networks which then affect the health of the individual. The roles played by different individuals, that is, co-worker, parent, child, for example, need to be socially connected to improve their happiness or their well-being. A person’s happiness is not based only on the person’s expectation (Rayo & Becker 2007) but also in the comparisons of the peer. Recent studies have shown that social life effects on happiness of an individual have been on the increase. Happiness has been seen to be contagious in most social places. For example, friends of the individual who are happy tend to be also happy. The precise mechanism, by which happiness is spread, is seen to be related with proximity. For instance, having a neighbor increase the probability of happiness increasing if the neighbor is a happy person. According to Fowler and Christakis (2008), spread of happiness between the same- sex relationship is more on the spread than that of different sex. Therefore, this relationship between social life and happiness, has led to the demand of a creation of healthy social life to ensure the happiness of individuals.

Happiness is a psychological state. Applying the bio-psychosocial model of health and illness to analyze and understand happiness, and discussing it from the physical level, happiness and well being requires a reflection on biochemical, genetic and physical factors. The bio-psychosocial model as proposed by George Engel conceptualizes the hierarchical systems of nature at different levels and borrows from the General System theory which posits that the factors exist along a continuum of natural systems. Happiness is a state of wellbeing resulting from such an interaction. This is despite the criticism that the hierarchy of natural systems is incomplete and may not be there at all since not all levels are equally weighed. Scholars suggest that the elements be arranged differently to correspond to the problem at hand.

According to Eckersley (2007) genes affect our wellbeing mainly through their influence on personality traits such as extroversion and neuroticism, which are associated with higher and lower being respectively. Behaviors, like all complex traits, involve multiple genes, a reality that complicates genetic contributions (Joseph McInerney 2007). Genetics effects account for around 50% of the variance in subjective well-being (Nes, et al., 2006). Figueredo et al (2004, 2005, 2007) in their Life history strategies notes that a higher order factor (K) underlies a variety of distinct parameters, with the factor correlating with several personality types. Extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism post a correlation of 0.12, 0.24 and 0.67 respectively.

personalities refer to the manner in which people gather energy1. This is the energy manifested in a happy person. However, this is not to imply that introverted people are not happy. It is further argued that a set of traits, related to extraversion influence positive feeling and satisfaction with another different set, related to neuroticism leading to negative feeling and dissatisfaction.

In a study examining the association between personality dimensions and subjective well being, regression analyses revealed personality variable of neuroticism as one of the most important correlates of subjective well-being.2

In mental health counseling, counselors are presented with a common problem of depression across age groups. This snatches the patient the experience of happiness and feeling of wellbeing. The Bio-Psychosocial model approach is to first assess the biochemical and genetic factors that have led to the depression.

The personality types, cognitive factors such as attitude social-cultural factors do affect the way an individual will respond to a given situation- environment so that the interaction of these at various level creates either a happy person or unhappy one. Karl Marx got it right when he said that write their open histories but not under circumstances of their own choosing (Eckersley, 2007). Situation matters and affects us.


Happiness is a psychological that is manifested in an organism’s behavior. It is a sign of wellness and is affected by all spheres of a human life. To understand happiness, a holistic approach is required since it is a complex matter. This approach requires an analysis of the situation (environment); personality, which is affected by nature; and the social cultural factors which nurture a person. This amounts to adopting the Bio-Psychosocial model. This model is a paradigm providing assessment and intervention bases of approaching any human mental wellness issue. Though it has been challenged as wanting by several scholars, the adoption of this model has been of remarkable change in human health care.


Burns, G, 2010, Happiness, Healing, Enhancement: Your Casebook Collection Applying, New Jersey: Wiley and Sons, Inc

Eckersley, R, 2007, “The Politics of Happiness”. Living Now, March, issue 93, pp6-7

Figueredo et al, 2007, “Life History Strategies”. Nature Reviews, Feb, v8 (157), pp1-7

Fiori,K, Toni, C, and Kai, S, 2006, “Social Network Typologies and Mental Health Among

The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Older Adults,”

61B.Sciences ,

Folwer, H, and Nicholas, A, Christakis, 2008, “The Dynamic Spread of Happiness in a Large

Social Network: Longitudinal Analysis Over 20 Years in the Framingham Heart Study,”

337, no. a2338 British Medical Journal

Libran, C, 2006, “Personality dimensions and subjective well-being” Span J Psychol, May; 9(1), pp38-44

Nes et al, 2006, “Subjective well-being: genetic and environmental contributions to stability and change”. Psychol Med, v36 (7) pp1033–1042

Yang, Y, 2008, “Long and Happy Living: Trends and Patterns of Happy Life Expectancy in the

37, no. 4 Social Science Research U.S., 1970-2000,”

Rayo, L, and Becker, S, 2007, “Evolutionary Efficiency and Happiness,” Journal of Political Economy 115, no. 2

The University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston: Introverts vs. Extroverts

2 Personality Dimensions and subjective well-being, 2006