Cognitive Development

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Warren Mayer
The role of learning in personality development

Personality theorists have long argued over the nature of personality in terms of how it is developed and how we come to understand the factors that influence said development. Numerous researchers and scientists have proposed theories and hypotheses in order to attempt to explain and elaborate on the role of learning in particular regarding the development of an individuals personality, however it must be noted prior to the continuation of this paper, that no one theory holds. All theories have salient points, as well as criticisms, and this must be taken into account when dealing with this topic. Firstly, learning can be defined as “any relatively durable change in behavior or knowledge that is due to experience” (Weiten, 2010). Personality can be defined as a largely consistent and stable set of personal traits and characteristics that determine who we are seen to be, as well as being used to predict potential behavior. This essay shall discuss how learning affects personality development whilst paying particular attention to the role of cognition and, in particular, Albert Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory. Bandura's Social Cognitive Theory stipulates that learning is a cognitive aspect, and as such it involves a variety of mental processes such as memory and perception, as well as controlling processes that influence decision making and problem solving. It centres around the principle of “reciprocal determinism” which notes the interrelationships that exist between “an active person, the person's behavior, and the environment” (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010). This essay shall include examples of how one learns through observation and how this can be integrated into social environments. A social environment can be seen as a location where one engages in social activity involving one or more persons excluding the original subject. It is arguably in these social environments that the majority of learning occurs based on the process of “observational learning” (Shaffer & Kipp, 2010) which can be defined as “learning that results from the observing the behavior of other people (called models)”. Attention will also be paid to how personality development is influenced by the amount and duration of what we actually remember after learning something. Memory forms a key part of cognitive processing and therefore its role in learning and personality development is relatively crucial. By the end of this essay, the reader should be able to better understand the links that can be drawn between learning and personality development, whilst simultaneously being able to better comprehend the nature of both in reference to any social environment.

The first topic this essay will touch base on, is the nature of learning and how we actually learn, as well as utilizing particular social contexts in describing it and to link it to observational learning and memory. In order to effectively learn something, one must first receive an input in the form of a stimulus; such as listening to somebody speak or watching an action being performed. The stimulus is detected by the sensory organs, which translate and transfer these messages to the brain. These signals are then interpreted and categorized in the brain and this process refers to perception. It is through perception that we determine which actions to take based on how exactly we receive and interpret the information. Thus to learn, we firstly note a stimulus(such as listening to a teacher speak in a classroom), then it is interpreted in the brain, and then classified into memory based on a principle of encoding. Encoding occurs on 3 processing levels; structural(shallow), phonemic(intermediate), and semantic(deep) (Weiten, 2010). The way that information is encoded correlates to 3 different memory stores; sensory, short-term, and long-term (Weiten, 2010). It is in the storage of information in each of these 3 departments that...
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