Behaviour Or Behavior – British vs. American English

08.04.24 British English vs. American English Time to read: 3min

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It’s important to maintain consistency in academic writing to ensure that the work is logical and easy to understand. However, students often find it challenging to distinguish between British English vs. American English, which can lead to confusion when it comes to spelling certain words, such as “behaviour” or “behavior.” If you’re looking to improve your understanding of these two versions of English, keep reading.

“Behaviour” or “behavior”

The noun “behaviour/behavior” refers to how a person or organism acts, conducts themselves, or behaves in a particular situation or towards others. “Behaviour” refers to actions, reactions, and conduct, and its spelling varies between British and American English. While “behaviour” is commonly used in countries where British English is spoken, “behavior” is preferred in countries where American English is the norm.

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British English

behaviour

Behaviour-or-behavior-US-flag

American English

behavior

Both spellings are correct, and the choice depends on the English variant being employed. It’s recommended to use the spelling that aligns with the chosen variant for consistency.

Examples of using “behaviour” and “behavior” as a noun

The following examples will illustrate the difference in the spelling of the noun “behaviour/behavior” in British and American English.

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  • His behaviour at the meeting was professional and courteous.
  • The teacher commended the student for exemplary behaviour.
  • The company has strict policies regarding workplace behaviour.
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  • His behavior at the meeting was professional and courteous.
  • The teacher commended the student for exemplary behavior.
  • The company has strict policies regarding workplace behavior.

“Behaviour” or “behavior” as an adjective

“Behavioural/behavioral” is an adjective and pertains to matters related to behavior, especially in terms of psychology, sociology, or observable actions and responses.

  • British English: Behavioural
  • American English: Behavioral
  • The psychologist conducted a behavioural analysis.
  • The school implemented a new behavioural intervention program.
  • The company hired a behavioural consultant.
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  • The psychologist conducted a behavioral analysis.
  • The school implemented a new behavioral intervention program.
  • The company hired a behavioral consultant.
Behaviour-or-behavior-behavioural-or-behavioral-US-flag

“Behaviour” or “behavior” as an adverb

“Behaviourally/behaviorally” is an adverb that describes actions or events related to behavior. It indicates that something is done in a manner that pertains to behavior or is following behavioral principles.

  • British English: Behaviourally
  • American English: Behaviorally
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  • Behaviourally, the child adapted well.
  • The team succeeded due to behaviourally aligned goals.
  • Behaviourally targeted ads boost engagement.
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  • Behaviorally, the child adapted well.
  • The team succeeded due to behaviorally aligned goals.
  • Behaviorally targeted ads boost engagement.

FAQs

Both are correct.  You use “behaviour” in British English, and “behavior” in American English.

Yes, there is a difference. “Behaviour/behavior” is a noun, referring to the way someone behaves. “Behavioural/behavioal” is an adjective, describing something related to or influenced by behavior.

In Canada, both spellings are used, but it often depends on personal preference or adherence to regional influences. Both are generally accepted.

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