Analyzing the Formation of Habits Using Behavioral and Social/Cognitive Approaches

Last Updated: 27 May 2020
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The habit to be analyzed is cigarette smoking. Around the age of 13 is when I probably had my first cigarette. The habit developed from a learned behavior from the adults around me and peer pressure. I can remember many of the adult figures around me, more so the adult males, smoked cigarettes, and cigars. At the time when I was a girl there was not an age limit on buying cigarettes. My father, who ran his body and fender shop out the garage in the back yard would send me and my siblings to the corner drugstore to buy his KOOL cigarettes. The seventh grade is when the peer pressure began.

I remember sneaking the KOOL cigarettes out of my father’s pack and smoking on the way to school with friends. Smoking did not become a habit then. I had older sisters and always wanted to follow them. So once I was in high school they let me hang out with them. I smoked to pretend I was as grown as they were. It still had not become a habit. After high school about the age of 19 is when it became a habit. I moved away from home and wanted to do the things that grown-ups do. Because smoking has formed into a habit my body craved the nicotine and this is what fed the habit and caused it to continue.

The habit continued until my 29th year when I became pregnant with my daughter. The smoking probably would have continued through pregnancy, but it made me sick. The smoking resumed after birth for the next 15 years. During the period after birth I tried to stop smoking once or twice unsuccessfully, convincing myself that I enjoyed smoking and was not ready to quit. It was the nicotine addiction talking to me. Most of my friends smoke and it was something we did together When comparing this habit to the behavioral personality theory, it makes complete sense.

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The behavioral personality theory only deals with externally observable things. This habit came about from watching and observing others. Trying to do as others to fit in or be someone different than who I was at the time, not knowing how addicting this habit could be. As a person gets older the body does not allow one to continue the habits that started in their younger years without consequences. The effects of aging start taking over. Because of operant conditioning this habit had to be change. The effect of smoking in people with diabetes cause a high cardiovascular risk, Diabetic

nephropathy which causes kidney disease, high blood pressure, and genetic predisposition. Every visit to the doctor reminded me of the consequences of smoking. Operant conditioning (sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through these rewards and punishments, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior (Kendra Cherry, 2013). This conditioning caused me to quit this habit. First I had to make the conscience decision that this was going to be the end of smoking.

The plan was to quit smoking cold turkey; I did not want to substitute one drug to give up another. I no longer allowed myself to buy cigarettes. If I had the urge to smoke a cigarette, I would get one from someone else, preferably non-menthol or not my brand so it would not be satisfying. All money that was to be spent on cigarettes went into a savings account. After six months I had a savings of $360. 00. This is where the operant conditions plays a part, that was a great reward. This was a hard habit to change but not as hard as I thought it would be.

Like any habit or addiction I believe the person has to want to make the change. People who “relapse” make the conscience decision to continue the habit. Social cognitive theory (SCT) refers to a psychological model of behavior that started primarily from the work of Albert Bandura (1977; 1986). It was first developed with an emphasis on the cognitive process or acquiring knowledge of social behaviors, social cognitive theory continues to single out that learning happens in a social setting and that much of what is learned is acquired through watching others (The Gale Group, 2013).

Cognitive-behavioral theory (CBT) refers to the basic principle that a person’s perceptions play a substantial and important role in the development and maintenance of emotional and behav¬ioral responses to life situations. In CBT models, cognitive processes, in the form of meanings, judgments, appraisals, and assumptions associated with specific life events, are the primary determinants of one’s feelings and actions in response to life events and thus either enable or hold back the process of adaptation (A. Antonio Gonzalez-Prendes and Stella M. Resko, 2013)

After understanding both the social and behavioral cognitive theories, I believe the cognitive-behavioral theory has the most influence in the makeup of my personality. The cognitive behavioral theory comes into play when I am trying to reach self-actualization motives as described in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I tend to react on feelings in most situations, which will either enable or hold back the process of adaptation. In conclusion, I am finding that studying the different theories of behavior is giving me a better understanding of the way people act and think. This hase been a very informative class.

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Analyzing the Formation of Habits Using Behavioral and Social/Cognitive Approaches. (2016, Aug 17). Retrieved from

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