Personality can be defined as a hypothetical concept that constitute those relatively stable and enduring aspects of an individual which distinguishes them from other people making them unique, but which at the same time permit a comparison between individual. There are various approaches that conceptualize personality. These are; the psychoanalytic perspective, the trait theory, behaviorist (learning) theory, humanistic theories cognitive and biological approaches. This paper however will explore the behavioral and social learning theory approaches to personality.
The focus will be in comparing and contrasting them and relating them to a personal personality disorder. The social learning theory is an approach that argues that we learn through imitation, modeling, and observation of other people behavior. If we observe a good behavior from other people, we are likely to behave well but if we observe bad behavior from them we behave badly. Albert Bandura is considered a major proponent of this theory. This approach also considers the environmental factors claiming they reinforce modeling.
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An individual can be reinforced directly by a model for example; a student can dress like other to fit in their group. A third person can also reinforce modeling. for example; a teacher may praise a certain student making the others to model him. It is also possible to imitate the behavior itself. For example; a student may play football during his leisure time influencing another to model the behavior. Social learning theory argues that reinforcement and punishment are necessary in learning. They influence the level at which a person demonstrates a learnt behavior. They argue that moral judgment concerning the right or wrong is modeled.
Bandura outlined from major condition for modeling to occur; paying attention, remembering, ability to replicate, and motivation. Modeling leads to acquisition of new behavior, affects the frequency of embarking a learner behavior, encourages a forbidden behavior and increases the frequency of a similar behavior. They emphasize of self regulation in personality development. For example; setting own goals, self observation, self judgment and self reaction (Ormrod, J. E1999) The behavioral approach in personality assessment argues that personality can be acquired through observation.
It put the environment accountable to personality difference among people. It assumes that we can understand other people by observing how they behave. It also argues that a response to certain stimuli molds behavior. Learning can occur though conditioning in both human and non human animals. It also assumes that all human are equal at birth. We are born a tabula rasa – empty slit – as we grow, the environmental factors molds our personality. Proponents of this approach include Skinners’ (1957) operant condition theory, Pavlov (1936) conditioning theory and Watson (1958). (Axialis Team 2008)
Both the social learning and behavioral theories emphasize on observation learning to personality acquisition. They consider environmental factors that influence our personality. They also consider reinforcement and punishment an important factor in learning. However, social learning theory argues that learning is possible without necessarily changing the behavior. This contrast the behavioral approach that argues that learning must be represented by a permanent change in behavior. Social learning assumes people can learn through observation alone and which might not affect their performance thus may not or may impact behavior change.
This contrasts the behavioral approach which assumes learning must involve a permanent change in behavior as well conditioning necessity in learning. Modeling, imitation and observation cannot be assumed in behavioral acquisition. Environmental factors too are very important in personality assessment. These two approaches consider this. They both make a step to explain broader personality to include the animals. On the other hand, we cannot assume the thought processes, unobservable activities, biological and genetic factors in personality assessment and which they assume.
Conditioning approach can be useful in explaining how we develop a habit how we model it, who influence us towards the habit and how we can stop the habit. In my early stages of life, I used to like toys very much. My parent would make sure that they bought me. Initially, my elder brother used to like them too. My parents would buy him every time he performed better in school. He would spend time with them on his free time. He motivated my love for toys. When I started going to school, my parents adopted a similar strategy in buying me toys.
It was not after I destroyed one like before, but after I performed better in school. I remember I had a hard time to adapt to this. Previously I mishandled them; after all they would buy me if damaged. This time round, it was based on performance. I wasn’t a good performer but I had to work hard to get some new toys. If I didn’t perform well, the punishment was ‘no toy’. As time went by, my performance deteriorated. My parents withdrew their reinforcement. At the long run, there were no more new toys. The old ones were not pleasant at all. I hated them. My performance currently is better but I hate toys.
In the behavioral view, I observed the habit from my brother and learnt it, the environmental factors, my parent, influenced me to possess the habit of destroying them in order to be bought some new. I was reinforced to work harder to get new toys. The negative stimulus, the punishment, was not to be bought new toys. The aversive stimulus was my parent’s withdrawal of new toys when my performance decreased. I later stopped liking toys a result of the negative reinforcement. In the social learning view, I learnt the habit from observing my brother; he used his free time well. My brother was my role model.
I paid attention to his habit, I rehearsed and was able to replicate the way he handled and treated the toys. However, my parent motivated me by realizing my habit and therefore bought me some more toys. I did not permanently adapt the behavior implying that learning does not necessarily change behavior. Social learning approach best describes my personality I was able to observe, pay attention, rehearse and replicate my brother’s behavior thus influencing my personality. I was able to regulate myself in settling my goals, observe and make my own judgment and choose my reaction from my parent’s move towards my habit.
These theories explore the complexity of human nature. Whichever dimension they take as long as it explain personality assessment, is worth credential. However, if these approaches are merged they would have a better explanation to personality assessment. References Ormrod, J. E. (1999). Human learning. Social learning theory: Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Retrieved on Friday, October 31, 2008 from http://teachnet. edb. utexas. edu/~lynda_abbott/Social. html Axialis team (2008) Psychologist World. Behavioral approach. Retrieved on Friday, October 31, 2008 from http://www. psychologistworld. com/issues/behavioralapproach. php
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