Personality Psychology Textbook Chapter 3: Social Learning and Culture (pgs 80 - 102) The Social Ecology of Human Behavior Behaviorists and social-learning theorists have traditionally accounted for human behavior in terms of the environment?s influence upon the person We learn to behave as we do through interaction with the world around us. Learn through: Classical conditioning Operant conditioning Observational learning We also learn through a system of rewards and punishments The behaviorists and social-learning theorists underscore the extent to which each of us is a reflection of our environment ? how our behavior and indeed our very lives sit within and are defined by the environment around us. Social ecology: consists of the many different environmental contexts that influence a person?s behavior and shape his or her life. Includes those immediate and close-in contexts such as the particular social situation within which one finds oneself at a given point in time Personality psychologists who have been strongly influenced by behaviorism and social-learning theories are especially interested in the immediate situational factors that shape behavior at a given time and in a given place. Social situations make up the microcontexts of social ecology ? the immediate environmental influences for behavior A family can be a context for behavior in at least two different ways. In the first sense, a person is likely to act in different ways when he or she is in the presence of his or her family than at other times Psychologists who study family systems speak of how each member of the family regularly assumes a particular role in that family and displays behavior that is consistent for that role. In a second sense, a family is a context in that patterns of behavior and values learned in the family may sometimes generalize to other parts of a person?s life The most encompassing and distal contexts for behavior are what we will call macrocontexts, and these include social class, gender, race, culture, and the historical context within which we live. Rudolph Moos ? formulated six-part taxonomy of human environments, identifying various features that can be taken into consideration in conceptualizing a particular situation Dimensions of the physical ecology ? ex. climate, geography Behavior settings or episodes ? ex. church, football game, kitchen, classroom Organizational structure ? ex. population density in an organization, site of organization, degree of hierarchic structure, student-teacher ratio in a school Characteristics of persons in the situation ? ex. age, sex, abilities, status, talents, etc. of people in the environment Organizational climate ? ex. social morale, nature and intensity of personal relations Functional and reinforcement properties ? ex. whether aggressive acts are rewarded or discouraged Barbara Krahe ? offered an alternative outline that arranges situational characteristics into a nested hierarchy. Lowest level ? situational stimuli ? single objects or acts inherent in a situation that are meaningful in their own right Ex. ?Taking an examination at the end of the term? ? situational stimuli would include a specific array of tables and chairs, pens and paper, fellow students sitting in the room, and so on. Second level ? situational events ? episodes. Ex. In the examination example, these might include ?being told to begin the exam? and ?answering the essay questions at the end of the exam. Third level ? total situation ? events combine into an overall picture. Ex. What is characteristic of the total situation is its unique occurrence in time and space. The examination might be the first one a student takes in her college career, or, say, the only examination she has ever taken in a psychology course. Fourth level ? situations are defined in generalized terms, such as ?exams in general? Ex. In the examination example, this demonstrates that while each exam may be unique, most may share certain features defining the essence of ?examness?. Fifth (and most encompassing level) ? life situations ? which, according to Krahe, are ?the totality of social and physical factors which affect the person and are affected by his or her actions at a certain stage of development?. Ex. In the examination example, the life situation might be defined as ?being an undergraduate in her first year at college,? encompassing all the particular circumstances associated with this point in life. People tend to perceive situations in psychological rather than physical terms. ?The definition of the situation may be conceived as the sum of all recognized information, from the point of view of the actor, which is relevant to his locating himself and others, so that he can engage in self-determined lines of action and interaction?. People often characterize particular situations in terms of their psychological affordances ? what opportunities for behavior and experience the situations afford or offer for the person. If situations are best defined in terms of peoples subjective psychological affordances, then it becomes extremely difficult to separate what?s ?really? in the situation from what?s ?really? in the person Furthermore, if a person?s personality shapes his or her perceptions, then it would seem to be equally difficult to separate internal personality variables from external situations, for personality characteristics may determine how a person interprets the environment. In support of this idea ? Forgas found that introverted people tended to organized information about situations in terms of a self-confidence dimension, while extroverts by contrast categorized situations in terms of how pleasant the situations were, and how strongly they afforded interpersonal involvement. Put simply, introverts and extroverts are usually in different situations (in terms of their subjective perceptions), even when it appears from the outside that they are in the same situations Whether introvert or extrovert, average person appears to possess a ?vast and varied expertise about situations, that can be tapped and translated into behavioral guidelines According to one approach to the understanding of situations, people may routinely formulate elaborate personal taxonomies specifying situational prototypes: an abstract set of features about a given class of situations. Serves as a working model for the person, telling him or her what to expect and how to behave in situations of a particular type May include information about physical setting, physical features of the people involved, and common behaviors exhibited by the people in the situation Example - situation of ?party? may include: Generally occurs in the evening Involves a large number of people congregating in circumscribed space Informal dress Eating and drinking Lively conversation Laughing Music and dancing Of course, parties vary, and each party contains its own constellation of defining features. Nonetheless, we extract from our experience a core of ?partyness? that represents for each of us the ?best example? or ?ideal case? for defining the situation we call ?party?. Sorority house party may like a seem highly prototypical party, while a poetry-reading party at the home of a college English professor may seem less prototypical Social structure: refers to those conditions of society that differentiate people along the lines of power and resources Social structure provides an encompassing macrocontext for human behavior. The impact of this macrocontext on personality is evident when we look at the relation between personality and social class Classic review of social stratification research in different countries, Inkeles found that people in higher socioeconomic classes showed different patterns of attitudes and behavior than people from lower classes. Found that individuals in higher classes tended to report higher job satisfaction compared with individuals in lower social classes Social class also associated with attitudes about one?s job and about human nature. Individuals from higher social classes tended to express greater concern that their job be interesting and fulfilling rather than merely a source of steady income. They also tended to believe in the possibility of changing human nature for the better Higher status employees enjoy and cultivate greater levels of self-direction at work, while lower status employees find fewer cognitive challenges in their work, are given fewer opportunities to exercise initiative, and must typically instead obey the orders of their superiors. Lower status employees are socialized to value obedience to authority Tends to generalize to family realm as well Middle-class parents more often stressed intent and self-direction while lower- and working-class parents more often stressed obedience to authority in the family. Children whose parents enjoy professional, high-status jobs, therefore, tend to be socialized in such a way as to encourage self-direction, which itself becomes a valuable asset for those children when they grow up and pursue professional positions themselves By contrast, children whose parents work in lower-status occupations tend to be socialized toward obedience to authority. While such a socialization pattern fits the demands of lower-class work and family life, it may not prepare these children well for their later efforts to move up into higher-status occupations Lower- and working-class families value security first and foremost and seek to instill in their children those qualities that have historically reinforced stability and stasis in the occupational world. In contrast, middle-class families are likely to be better educated and better off financially. The parents are likely to have professional positions, and the children are likely to be socialized within a much different macrosystem of values, beliefs, and worldviews. Middle-class adolescents and adults use more complex and less stereotyped language than do lower-class people, even when their intelligence test scores are similar Bernstein argued that lower-class parents adopt a restricted linguistic code in communicating with their children, which means that they limit their verbal exchanges to direct expressions of concrete statements and commands Middle-class parents, on the other hand, tend to use an elaborated linguistic code consisting of complex syntax, conditional statements, and the expression of abstract ideas. Critical of this characterization, Labov argues that middle-class psychologists are not sensitive to the nuance and range of meaning in lower-class speech Both Bernstein and Labov would agree, however, that language reflects context, and that differences in verbal behavior between lower- and middle-class people reflect different systems for making meaning in the world and thus different contexts within which behavior can be understood. Psychologists have only recently begun to examine in depth the effects of extreme poverty on the development of personality and well-being. Children in extremely poor families ? in both ?developed? and ?third world? countries ? confront widespread environmental disadvantages, many of which are difficult to fathom from the standpoint of the comfortable middle class. Poor children are exposed to more family turmoil, violence, separation from their families, instability, and chaotic household They also experience less social support from their parents, are read to less frequently, have less access to books and computers, and watch substantially more TV. Poverty is a macrocontext of awesome and tragic proportions. Its effects on personality are likely to be both broad and subtle. One of the great structural divides in human life is gender Gender encompasses all those social and personal characteristics, constructions, and roles typically associated with one or another of the two biological sexes in human life. We may form gender role stereotypes, which are relatively inflexible ideas about how males and females do and should act. Social psychologists have documented the pervasiveness of gender role stereotypes in American society, as well as in other societies, and have shown how such stereotyping is at the root of sexism and prejudice Gender has profound implications for power and prestige Men generally have more access to social and economic power than women. American men still occupy most of the highest positions of societal power and prestige Within the family, men typically occupy the most dominant roles Gender role stereotypes typically reinforce the poser differential between men and women Gender socialization is pervasive in contemporary American society ? in ways obvious, and subtle, well meaning and invidious. Through rewards, punishments, and observational learning, males and females become intimately familiar with society?s expectations as to gender-appropriate behavior Alice Eagly and Wendy Wood argue that socialization into gender roles accounts for most of the general sex differences that are observed in human social behavior. The sexes typically differ in a variety of social behaviors, including aggression, helping, nonverbal behavior, and interaction in groups. Although the sex differences that have been documented for social behavior are not always large in magnitude, they tend to be consistent with society?s expectations about gender roles Can be summarized in terms of the constructs of: Agency: refers to the tendency of an individual to assert the self in a powerful and expansive manner and is associated with such characteristics as being aggressive, independent, masterful, and instrumentally competent Communion: refers to the tendency of an individual to merge with other individuals and is associated with such characteristics as being friendly, unselfish, concerned with others, and emotionally expressive In a nutshell, gender roles suggest that men should be slightly more agentic and women slightly more communal Men and women do seem to behave in accord with gender role expectations, though the tendencies are moderate. Eagly and Wood maintain that sex differences in agentic and communal qualities are mainly the result of social learning over the lifespan Gender roles reflect those differences between men and women that have arisen though a beneficent blending of nature and choice. One variation on this line of argument purports that because women are biologically fit to bear children and because men tend on the average to be somewhat larger and stronger than women, women and men have gravitated toward different but equally valuable (and valued) roles in society. Separate but equal, in a sense. A second, less sanguine interpretation emphasizes hegemony, or the expression of power by one group over another. Gender roles are the result of unequal power between the sexes In patriarchal societies, men have assumed the most dominant roles Women have assumed more communal orientations and developed interpersonal skills as strategies for survival and success in subservient roles. The most encompassing and far-reaching macrocontext for human behavior is culture Social scientists have formulated many different definitions of culture Robert LeVine views culture as a tradition of rules embraced by a particular society of people When we think of culture as an organized body of rules that binds people together in a society we may assume that culture exists outside the person as a coherent and encompassing whole In the 30?s and 40?s, social scientists who examined the relations between culture and personality tended to exhibit just this emphasis. Their work was based on the assumption that people?s lives corresponded in a coherent manner to the rules of their culture Therefore, particular cultures might produce distinctive character types or ?modal personalities? In more recent times, however, anthropologists and other social scientists who examine the intersection of culture and individual lives have come to emphasize the inconsistencies and diversities in any given culture and the inevitable mismatches and incongruencies that follow from the relations between culture and individual lives Geertz ? argues that culture should not be seen as a tightly constructed, rule-governed system. Culture consists of many different elements, some in conflict with each other. Furthermore, people do not match up neatly to the cultures wherein they reside. Instead, each person makes use of the cultural resources that are available to him or her Each culture provides ?a tool kit of habits, skills, styles, perspectives, norms, roles, and values out of which each individual can construct a potentially unique strategy of action? People act and think selectively and strategically within culture. Culture is as much inside the person as it is in the world surrounding the person Provides a way of knowing and construing the self, the world, and others As a complex macrocontext for human behavior, culture offers up a rich mix of meanings, practices, and disclosures that shape individual lives But individuals do not passively submit to culture Each of us appropriates certain cultural meanings and ignores others, and each of us is likely to do battle with those aspects of culture we find disagreeable or even repugnant Culture infuses us with meanings, but as active agents in the world, we each participate in culture and leave our mark on those meanings, making for a dynamic and evolving interplay between culture and self Major theme in the literature on cross-cultural psychology is that while some cultures emphasize the autonomy of individual selves, other cultures provide meanings organized around the interdependence of selves within communities On a cultural level, individualism is a meaning system that exalts the autonomy of the individual over and against the interdependence of the group People in individualist cultural contexts typically give priority to their own personal goals, even when the goals are in conflict with the goals of family, work group, or country. By contrast, cultural collectivism is a meaning system that gives priority to the in-group or collective over and against the individual People in collectivist cultural contexts typically put the interests and values of their groups (e.g., family, community, nation) ahead of their own personal agenda Buddhism and Confucianism Buddha taught self-renunciation as a goal of human life, through which the person transcends the limits of the individual self and finds connection to others and the cosmos Confucius codified a social doctrine of familial and community obligations; in the Confucian tradition, social order takes precedence over individual expression ? a person needs to know his or her proper place in the hierarchical order of things In talking about personality and social life, the Japanese often invoke the concept of amae Amae roughly translates as ?depending on or presuming another?s benevolence? While dependency may seem to be an immature childhood characteristic from an individualistic standpoint, the Japanese conceive of the entire lifespan in terms of amae. Both Japanese children and adults view themselves as being linked to others in a social hierarchy through bonds of benevolent interdependency Distinction between individualism and collectivism should not be drawn too sharply but should instead be seen as a matter of degree Any given culture is not completely individualist or collectivist as a whole; every culture has both individualist and collectivist meanings Regardless of what society they live in, most people are capable of construing their own selves in either independent or interdependent terms For example: in American society people speak easily about the development of an autonomous self (individualism) as well as their obligations and commitments to families and other groups (collectivism) Therefore, cultures tend to differ from one another in terms of their relative emphasis on individualism and collectivism These relative differences can be further spelled out in terms of four defining attributes of individualism and collectivism: Goals From individualist standpoint ? personal goals are more important than goals of the in-group, whereas from a collectivist standpoint ? the in-group goals are more important. A collectivist perspective connects the person to particular in-group rather than, say, to all humankind in general Relationships From an individualist standpoint ? rational exchange is the norm in relationships; separate and autonomous selves come together to ?trade? resources, and social life resembles, in many ways, a marketplace From a collectivist standpoint ? people relate to one another more from the standpoint of communal obligations and bonds of loyalty Determinants of social behavior From an individualist standpoint, the person?s own attitudes take precedent over group norms in motivating and guiding behavior. Individualist cultures emphasize the ideas of ?standing up for what you think is right? and ?being true to your own convictions? By contrast, the collectivist meaning system elevates social norms above the opinions or attitudes of individuals. People are encouraged to act in accord with the standards of the in-group Construals of the self The individualist self-construal is defined over and against others as an autonomous and independent agent The collectivist self-construal, by contrast, is viewed as highly interdependent and embedded within the community Table of differences between construals of independent self vs. interdependent self (Table 3.4 pg 94) The self is defined in terms of internal attributes such as motives, abilities, talents, or ?personalities,? and a major cultural task is to discover, actualize, or confirm these personal attributes of the self. Independent way of being is widely elaborated in a variety of cultural practices, such as conversational styles that emphasize individual choice and self-fulfillment over and against conformity to social norms, and in such cultural institutions as the merit pay system Interdependent way of being holds beliefs in the fundamental connectedness or interdependence among those within an in-group. Psychologists have conducted many empirical studies to test the extent to which differences between individualistic and collectivist cultures may impact personality The results suggest that in some ways cultural individualism is associated with the independent self-construals and cultural collectivism is associated with interdependent selves. American?s typically process information in an analytic way, separating objects from their contexts and detecting differences between objects Japanese typically process information in a more holistic manner, paying careful attention to relationships between objects and how objects are integrated within a context Another cultural concept that is related to the distinction between individualism and collectivism is modernity ? which refers most generally to the economic, political, and cultural systems spawned in the 19th and 20th centuries by the Industrial Revolution; the expansion of capitalism and the proliferation of markets and trade; the increasing domination of science and technology; and the rising power of nationalist states, especially democracies. Although there remain substantial cultural differences among those societies that have been impacted b y modernity, modern societies still tend to share certain features and outlooks. For example, modernity is often perceived as encouraging a rationalistic and scientifically minded approach to the world Modernity is associated with growing skepticism toward religion and other traditional sources of authority and the spreading belief that progress and human betterment reside in the advances of science, technology, and economic and political development As societies become more modern, values and attitudes of people change The move toward modern industrialization was accompanied by an increase in all of the following aspects of personality and social life: Openness to new experiences Assertion of independence from traditional authorities Belief in scientific efficacy rather than fatalism Ambitious occupational and educational goals for one?s self and children Concern for punctuality and planning Interest and participation in local politics Interest in national and international news Cultural modernity tends to promote individualism Modernity teaches us that it is especially important to be ?true to one?s self? From the modern perspective, not only does the self possess significant depth and complexity, but the self is also changing constantly over time Modern societies of the 21st century are increasingly multicultural ? as people immigrate from one society to another On a psychological level, multiculturalism reinforces the problem of identity. Many people feel torn between two different cultures as they try to carve out a bicultural identity. Bicultural identity integration (BII): the extent to which bicultural individuals are able to combine their different cultural influences into a coherent single identity Culture infuses virtually every aspect of human personality As modern societies become increasingly multicultural, personality itself becomes more and more culturally nuanced Culture serves as arguably the most important and pervasive context for understanding who people are and why people do what they do. Generation: consists of those people who are born at the same point in historical time and thereby develop a shared understanding of the world, common beliefs and aims, and a shared generational style. Stewart and Healy: Argue that the influence of history is strongly contingent on a person?s age or place in the life course A major historical event, such as a world war, will have one kind of impact on a 10 year old child and quite a different impact on a midlife adult Historical time is perhaps the most complex and subtle macrocontext for human behavior It is clear that history has an impact on people?s lives But the impact depends, in part, on the particular timing on a life It is also true that the impact of any historical event or movement is in large part mediated by a person?s own, idiosyncratic interpretation of that event Historical time is an especially complex and encompassing macrocontext for human behavior Human lives are time-structured and historically contingent Like social class, gender, race, and culture, historical time situates a human life within a set of complex and overlapping environments The social ecology of human behavior incorporates those many contexts within which we learn to be who we are From the microcontexts of social situations to the macrocontexts of culture and history, personality is always situated in context LINKS BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL/HISTORICAL EVENTS Age when event is experienced Focus of impact of event Childhood and early adolescence Fundamental values and expectations (e.g., family values, assumptive frameworks) Late adolescence/early adulthood Opportunities and life choices; identity (e.g., vocational identity) Early-middle adulthood Behavior (e.g., labor force participation) Midlife and later New opportunities and choices; revision of identity
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