Behavioral and Social/Cognitive Approaches to Forming Habits

Topics: Psychology, Behavior, Behaviorism Pages: 5 (988 words) Published: September 11, 2014


Psychologists have developed many method's of analyzing and configuring one's habits as well as behavior patterns. Two approaches that are generally used when observing personality habits are the Behavioral and the Social/cognitive approaches. The Behavioral approach suggest that people are controlled absolutely by their environment. Behavioral approaches don't rely on on ideas of internal traits, tendencies, defenses, and motivations. The social/cognitive approach differs from the behavioral approach because it views perception and cognition as the nucleus of what it means to be human, and also the way that people interpret their environments, particularly their social surroundings, is seen as central to their humanness, and the ways in which people differ from one another in how they do this is seen as central to their identity.

A personal habit of mine that really stands out is gambling. I've been gambling since I was about thirteen years old, and the level in which I have gambled has changed dramatically since then. I developed this habit as a child when I noticed all the nice designer clothes and shoes that my peers from school were wearing on a daily basis. Although I didn't dress like my peers, occasionally my parents would give me allowances or money to purchase snacks at school. I would then use that money to enter the dice games that a few of my classmates would be involved in. I wouldn't necessarily say that my gambling habit was caused by genetics, but my mother could be considered as a compulsive gambler. She was my role model for this habit, and I think that since I witnessed some of her major successes while trying to control her own habits that a partial reinforcement was stored in my own memory. A partial reinforcement is a large unpredictable reward, and experiments show that a reward that comes after some, but not all, occurrences of a behavior is more powerful in influencing behavior than a reinforcement that is continuous(Friedman, Schustack, 2011). Of course I encountered some successes of my own in s those early school crap games, or this habit could have possibly been broken.

I do continue this habit at times, but not at the magnitude of recent years due to my countless failures. The possible occurrence of another big win is most likely a reason why I still continue this habit. However the continuation of this habit could be even deeper than the possible occurrence of another big win, and this is due to the fact that I am not satisfied with my economical status. Somewhere in the corners of my mind I feel that I am destined to obtain great wealth, but I have tried to stop gambling on several occasions. Usually there are several distinct phases of this addiction:the winning phase, the losing phase and the desperation phase(Benassu, 2011). I have unfortunately experienced all of these phases, and all though I have not quit my interactions with gambling have been limited.

According to the behavioral personality theory this habit is formed by the personality trait of impulsivity that plays a key role in the evolution of pathological gambling and is one of the key components in other impulse related disorders(Sinha, 2004). It also means that conditioning influenced my desire to gamble, and that winning and losing gradually became a familiar pattern that continued as I got older. Conditioning comes about through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists think that our outcomes to environmental stimuli form our behaviors.

Components of social/cognitive theory would suggest that my gambling habit came directly from observing the habits of my mother as well as social interactions, experiences, and outside media influences. Furthermore because the behavior that my mother demonstrated was not frowned upon or criticized my psyche accepted this behavior as being normal.

Operant conditioning is a kind of learning that proposes an individual's behavior is modified by its prior...

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White, W. A. (1917). The theories of Freud, Jung and Adler: III. The Adlerian concept of the neuroses. The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 12(3), 168-173. doi: 10.1037/h0075313
Friedman, H., Schustack ,M. Chapter 6: Behaviorist and Learning Aspects of Personality (2011)
Cherry, K(2004)http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/f/behaviorism.htm
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