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Michael Vick


Psychological references of a personality can be correlated to each individual that resides on this earth.  Although some can be compared to others in terms of habitual actions through classifications, each personality interpretation is unique.  Personality classifications can be deemed as a selective grouping of traits that each individual acquires as a result of personal experiences, environmental influences, and category habitual traits.  These groups or categories each align one’s characteristics, thus organizing each person into a class or rank based upon traits identified by each grouping or classification.

Thus far, 6 theories have been formulated to specify each personality trait including, humanistic, behavioral and social learning, cognitive, humanistic, psychoanalytical, and biological.  Each of these theoretical sects preserves the understanding of an individual’s actions as well as the identification of behavioral factors and qualities.  Many everyday people have undergone such evaluations in order to indentify, sort, and interpret personal behavior, however such theories are being examined in the lives of many high profile celebrities.

For example, the latest bouts of strange behavior of Brittney Spears have also undergone these theories during the present custody battle with her former husband, Kevin Fedderline.Shaving her head along with her peculiar performance at the MTV movie awards have additionally undergone scrutiny.  Although Britney’s behavior has been rumored the result of substance abuse instead of personality flaws, many physiological theories has thus been applied in an attempt to explain the reasoning behind her actions.

Moreover, football star Michael Vick has undergone a serious career adjustment only months ago after he was convicted of dog fighting charges.  Psychological personality theories can also be applied in order to understand the logic behind his recent actions.

Although his career seemingly ended earlier than expected, Michael Vick was not always in the bright spotlight that shined upon his career for so many years.Born in Newport News, Virginia, 1960, to then 16 year-old Brenda Vick and 17 year-old Michael Boddie, Michael Dwayne Vick was always responsible for his siblings while his father attempted to maintain a steady job.  Michael Boddie only served 2 years in the military before finally finding a steady job at the local ship yards as a painter.

However, in Mr.

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Boddie’s spare time, he always reintegrated the discipline of football into his son, thus attaining Michael Vicks’ deep passion for the sport. After a rash of disciplinary issues as school, Michael “Ookie” Vick was forced to incorporate an extra-curricular activity into his schedule, thus he chose football. During his constructive varsity career at Warwick High School, Vick earned a scholarship to Virginia Tech.  Soon after a successful career at Virginia Tech, Vick was deemed one of the most sought after college quarterbacks in the entire United States, thus earning him a spot in the Atlanta Falcons lineup.

During this time, The Atlanta Falcons had only advanced to the playoffs a total of 6 times; therefore they were attempting to acquire a team player whom could aid the team in accomplishing their feat in the Super Bowl.   Vick signed on for a six year contract totaling $62 million along with a $15 million sign on bonus.  Although then coach, Dan Reeves, only had intentions of orchestrating Vick from the sidelines of his rookie year, his impressive performance during training camp earned an early route to the field.  During his career since the start of 2001, Vick has proved to be an essential sect of the Falcons team (Black Book Partners, 2007).

However, since his formal guilty plea in illegal dog fights, Vick has proved to be a tremendous loss to the Falcons dream team. “One of the most spectacular falls from grace in the history of American sport was sealed yesterday as star quarterback Michael Vick formally pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and involvement in dog-fighting, that could see him jailed for a year or more…

Vick had been one of the biggest stars of the National Football League, a quarterback of explosive speed and phenomenal throwing power. He was in the middle of a record-breaking $137m (68.5m), 10- year contract with the Falcons, not to mention a host of lucrative endorsement deals” (Cornwell,  August 2007).  Since his recent indefinite expulsion from the NFL in the later portion of 2007, the Atlanta Falcons have only attained 3 wins, and have consequentially ended their once always sold out games.  In early December, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison with a projected release date of summer 2009.

Although there are 6 sects of trait theory, Vick’s actions can only be interpreted under the Social-Cognitive Theory.  Under this theory, internal and external factors influence an individual, not either or.  This theory is also called the reciprocal theory because each factor, internal and external, corresponds with each other, not separately.  All Psych noted that in his classic experiment, Bandura (1965) looked at the behavior of children after watching a model on TV perform aggressive acts.  The children were divided into three groups; model rewarded, model punished, and no consequence, referring to the outcome of these aggressive acts.

As he expected, all of the children were able to perform the aggressive acts even though they had never performed them or been rewarded for them in the past.  However, those who witnessed the aggressive model being punished exhibited less aggressive acts themselves in the play time that followed. (AllPsych, 2004). Bandura reintegrated the thought that people not only react to personal feelings or inhibitions, but that they also act upon outside influences.  These influences could range from television, friends, family or even things witnessed in the workplace.

Realistically, in correlation to Michael Vick’s dog fighting offences, others were involved in the case, including friends and family.  Vick admitted to brutally killing at least 8 dogs either during or after the fights, however, others that were involved in the gambling and actual dog fights themselves did not take responsibility for their actions during the ordeal.  This leaves on to suspect if Vick himself was solely responsible for the fights or if others influenced him to do so because of his celebrity stature and ability to gain discretion for the events.

During his childhood, any actions of violence or extreme cases of anger can not be pinpointed, therefore, psychologically, the visibility of these bouts of aggression that were taken out in the form of dog fighting is not rational.  In addition, Cornwell also suggests that “Like cock-fighting (which Louisiana, incidentally, became the last state to ban a few weeks ago), dog-fighting has been around here for generations, at least since the early 19th century and probably before that. Blame those early British colonists and the popularity of the pastime back home in the old country. For a long time, it was above all a rural pursuit, entrenched in the South and in the Mid-Atlantic States, where the Vick case occurred” (July 2007).

This also correlates with the Social-Cognitive Theory hence its environmental influence on the act.  Although most individuals perceive the violence of the fights as cruel, this type of behavior is a cultural issue which customarily prevails in the south.  In American culture, dog fights just as cock fights have dated back to the early colonization of the United States, therefore preserving the earliest forms of sportsmanship.  Other issues lie behind the dog fighting that Vick pled guilty to such as the gambling ring, which suggests that Vick orchestrated the financial bets and racketeering that also prevailed; moreover, it appears that outside influences instead of sole internal desires influenced Vicks decisions.

In conclusion, many high-profile celebrities have risen to the charts not because of their efforts towards charity, but for their outrageous behavior.  One of these authoritative figures is Michael Vick.  Although he was raised with small town values which ultimately earned him the spot as the most invasive quarterbacks of his time, he consequentially succumbed to internal and external pressures that have now landed him 23 months in prison.  The type of theory that can be applied to his behavior, Social-Cognitive, explains the nature behind his ludicrous conduct.

Social-Cognitive behavior can be classified as the integration of both internal and external factors such as environment and self-indulgence that causes one to act in a certain manner.  Many studies have been conducted such as that of Bandura, which consequentially supports the theory.  The theory behind behaviors such as that depicted by Michael Vick should be further analyzed in order to broaden the spectrum of understanding.  Affirmative and destructive aspects of the Social-Cognitive theory apply.

For instance, theoretically, the Social-Cognitive trait theory can supplement one’s actions for external factors.  This can be affirmative or negative in the sense that this allows an individual to focus on the outside influences instead of logical thinking and reason.  Additionally, this theory allows psychologist to properly analyze and represent individuals when facing legal actions against them.  In demonstrating the analytical properties of an individual’s mind set, fair sentencing can be given in correlation to psychological facets of the law and societal influence.


All Psych. (2004). Personality Synopsis Chapter 8: Learning Theory Section 5: Social Cognitive Theory.  Retrieved December 13, 2007, from

Black Book Partners. (2007). Michael Vick. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from

Cornwell, R. (2007, July 22). The football superstar and the dog-fighting ring.

The London Independent. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from

Cornwell, R. (2007, August 28).  Vick faces jail after admitting dog fights.  The

London Independent. Retrieved December 13, 2007, from

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