Allport and Skinner

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  • Topic: Reinforcement, Psychology, Behaviorism
  • Pages : 9 (2911 words )
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  • Published : December 2, 2006
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Gordon Allport was born in Montezuma, Indiana, in 1897, the youngest of four brothers. As a shy boy, he was teased and lived an isolated childhood. (Oloson/Sihed p191) His father was a country doctor, and this meant that his father's patients were always in the house. Everyone in his house worked hard. His early life seemed to be pleasant and uneventful.

What is known about his life is Allport received his PH.D. in Psychology in 1922 from Harvard, following in the foot steps of his brother Floyd, who became an important social psychologists. (Allport 67) In the research collected, all that was mentioned was: When he was 22 he traveled to Vienna. He had arranged to meet with Sigmund Freud. There was at first silence, finally Gordon blurted out an observation he had made on his way to meet Freud. He mentioned that he had seen a little boy on the bus that was very upset at having to sit where a dirty old man had sat previously. Gordon thought that this child had learned this from his mother, a very neat and apparently a domineering type. Freud, instead of taking it as a simple observation, took it to be an expression of some deep, unconscious process in Gordon's mind, and said "And was that little boy you? (Boeree 65) This experience led him to his theory, it made him realize that psychology sometimes digs too deep, in the same way that he had realized earlier that "Behaviorism often doesn't dig deeply enough". His career was spent developing his theory, examining social issues like prejudice, and developing personality tests. ALLPORT'S THEORY

Allport, a trait theorist, was against opportunistic functioning. His belief of this term was characterized as reactive, past-oriented, and of course biological. He felt it was unimportant when trying to understand most human behavior. He believed most human behavior, was motivated by functioning in a manner expressive of the self – which he called propriate functioning. (Allport 37) Propriate functioning can be characterized as proactive, future-oriented, and psychological.

Propriate comes from the word proprium. Allport's name, for essential concept, the self. Propriate put so much emphasis on the self, causing Allport to define it with care. He handled this task from two directions, phenomenologically and functionally. Phenomenologically is the self as experienced. He suggested that the self was composed of aspects experienced that were seen as most essential, warm, and central.

His functional definition became a theory all by itself. The self has seven functions that arise at certain times in one's life. The sense of body develops in first two years. Individuals have a body and feel its closeness and warmth. It has boundaries of pain, injury, touch and movement, which individuals are aware of. Self-identity develops in first two years also. Times where people recognize themselves as continuing, having a past, present, and future; others see themselves as individuals. Self-esteem develops between two and four years old. This is a time when children recognize that they have value, to others and to themselves. Self-extension develops between four and six. Certain things come to be thought of as warm and essential to one's existence. Some people define themselves in terms of the people who are close to them. Self-image also develops between four and six. This is the "looking-glass self," the way others see me. Rational coping is learned mostly in the years from six till twelve. Children begin the abilities to deal with problems rationally and effectively. This is analogous to Erikson's "industry". (Allport 37) Propriate strives begins usually after the age of twelve. Propriate strives is a way to look one's goals, ideal plans, sense of direction, and sense of purpose. Now, as the proprium is developing in this way, we are also developing personal disposition. A personal disposition is defined as "generalized...
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