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Social Influences On Behavior Essay

1208 words - 5 pages

In an attempt to understand why people act and behave the way they do psychologists have come up with a number of theories to explain personality. Some of the most famous behaviorists include American psychologist B.F. Skinner and Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, known for their conditioned reflex experiments. While these psychologists focused on conditioned reflexes and other traits of behaviorism, social learning theory looks at behavior that is controlled by environmental influences rather than purely innate forces and conditioned reflexes. The paper that follows will outline the core differences between the behavioral approach to personality and the social learning approach to personality. This paper will also analyze one of my behaviors.Behavioral theory approaches personality as being observable. That is, we can watch the way people act, respond, and live their lives and make a judgment about them based on those actions. Many behaviorists believe that psychology should only concern itself with these matters as objectively observable data and is the only data we can draw correct conclusions from. Behaviorists also believe that behavior and learning can be linked to a response to certain stimulus; that is people and animals act the way they do and can be conditioned to respond in a certain manner because of stimuli (Behavioral Approach, n.d.). In contrast, the social learning approach to personality explains personality as more than just observable factors. Social learning adds a cognitive side to observing and says that while behavior is important thought processes and unobservable activities also need to be investigated.Characteristics of Behavior and Social Learning ApproachesBehavior ApproachBehaviorists look at the causes of behavior in terms of conditioning. "According to behaviorists, if we are to understand the processes that shape our personalities as well as develop procedures for changing problem behaviors, we must examine basic conditioning principles" (Burger, 2008). Studying the behavioral approach, we see that the assumptions or principles that are prevalent are:1. Observing behavior can bring about understanding of individuals2. Observing an individual's responses to stimuli also brings about an understanding of thatindividual3. The assumption that everyone is born with a blank slate makes everyone equal andenvironment is the key to behavior (, n.d.).These assumptions embody techniques of operant and classical conditioning. Operate conditioning uses a series of punishments and reinforcements as a way of changing or influencing behavior. Classical conditioning is based on the belief that an instinctual stimulus brings about a response that is then paired with a neutral stimulus and eventually the neutral stimulus will evoke a response without the instinctual stimulus.Social Learning ApproachThe social learning approach to personality works on the belief system that all behavior is learned and imitated by the...

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