I realize that most people really don’t know the difference between antisocial and asocial behaviours.
Let’s take a look at two students in high school; Chisom and Nneka.
Chisom is someone who doesn’t really care about other people and their feelings. Whatever she wants, she gets regardless; it doesn’t matter if she has to cross people to do so. People often say she is selfish. She also disrespects her classmates and her teachers. She’s been known to play pranks on everyone, including her teachers.
One time, she deliberately destroyed the school intercom just because she was not allowed to use it and when sent to the principal’s office, she seemed rather indifferent to whatever the consequences of her action would be. Though charming, she is usually manipulative. People like to stir clear of her but somehow, her friends stick with her, they say she’s nice if one would get to know her.
Nneka on the other hand is reserved, doesn’t deliberately get into trouble. She is quite shy, and is socially awkward. You would not catch her in any social gathering and if at all she comes, she’s mostly on her own and not socializing with people. Sometimes, Nneka really doesn’t know how to talk to people or handle conversations well. They often see her as blunt and weird. She truly doesn’t understand social norms or what to do in a social situation.
From the above examples, people would normally refer to Nneka as anti-social whereas the truth is Chisom is the anti-social one while Nneka is asocial.
Okay, okay, I know, minds are blown right now, like wow!
What is an anti-social behavior?
According to wikipaedia,
Anti-social behaviours are actions that harm or lack consideration for the well-being of others. It has also been defined as any type of conduct that violates the basic rights of another person and any behaviour that is considered to be disruptive to others in society
It’s also important to note that antisocial behavior is quite different from Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).
Antisocial Personality Disorder describes individuals who tend to pervasively disregard and violate the rights of others around them. Usually, it’s a deeper and more persistent form of antisocial behavior and instead of a behavior, it’s a personality disorder. It’s even sometimes referred to as sociopathy.
From the example above, Chisom is anti-social but she might not have antisocial personality disorder. She can only be diagnosed of having the personality disorder only if her anti-social behaviours are persistent and consistent in any context (i.e. she exhibits anti-social behaviours to anyone, no one is left out).
Also, if Chisom truly has antisocial personality disorder, she can only be diagnosed at age 18 or more.
Related: Bullying: What is it really about?
Anti-social behavior can be caused by parent history of anti-social behaviours, parental alcohol and drug abuse, unstable home life, absence of good parenting, physical abuse, parental instability (mental health issues/PTSD) and economic distress within the family.
What is an asocial behavior?
Asocial behavior refers to the lack of motivation to engage in social interaction, or a preference for solitary activities.
Usually, when someone is not good at handling social situations or is socially awkward, the right term for that person is asocial and not anti-social.
Asocial behavior is synonymous with non-social or unsocial.
People with this kind of behavior are
- Nervous in a social setting –the person might be seen as not confident, shy, trembling, avoiding facial contact and so on
- Do not understand social norms – they don’t know what to do in a social norm or what is expected of them. For instance, what to say when someone is sad or when they meet someone new
- They don’t know how to handle and keep conversations
- They miss social cues
Although these people are seen as weird, timid or shy, they are wonderful people only if people get to understand them.
Someone that is asocial is sometimes diagnosed with other psychological disorders such as social anxiety and depression.
Next time you want to call someone anti-social, perhaps, you have to think about it to be sure you really know what you are saying. You don’t want to sound ignorant 😉