Theories help explain drunk driving

Topics: Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Albert Bandura Pages: 5 (1194 words) Published: June 1, 2014


Theories Help Explain Drunk Driving
Taylor Forté
February 5, 2014
HDFS 2400
University of Missouri
Fall 2013
ID: 333795 and Keycode: 2476

Theories Help Explain Drunk Driving
Driving while intoxicated persists to be a major problem amongst teenage drivers. Although there are many precautions taken in order to prevent this type of activity, whether by the school, media or parents’, teens proceed to place themselves into these very high risk situations. These persistent behaviors drive us to look further into why teens partake in this type of activity or better yet what and who is influencing this age group. As asked by the principal I will attempt to explain this behavior using several theories of Human Development, including the theory of operant conditioning, the social learning theory and Erikson’s psychosocial theory. Social Learning Theory

This theory established by Albert Bandura, insists that by observing others, people acquire knowledge in areas such as rules, skills, strategies, beliefs, and attitudes while providing a sense of self-efficacy. Social learning theory renamed ‘social cognitive learning theory’ highlights the idea that much of human learning occurs in a social environment. According to Bandura (1971), “…new patterns of behavior can be acquired through direct experience or by observing the behavior of others” (p. 3). To apply this theory to the problematic issue of drunk driving is very simple because through recent history it is shown that our surroundings and the crowd kept have a huge impact on behavior. Although it is also suggested by Kail and Cavanaugh (2010) that all behavior is not imitated but that, “People are more likely to imitate if the person they see is popular, smart, or talented” (p.14). So this would be a possible explanation as to why many students at the high school are participating in such behavior. If the students at the high school are encountering such things as drunk driving especially in the presents of those who are looked up to the possibility of imitation is much higher. And the idea of self-efficacy through experience is a factor of the social cognitive learning theory that contributes to ideas as to explain this behavior. Self-efficacy is defined as “people’s beliefs about their own abilities and talents,” according to Kail and Cavanaugh (p. 14). The bottom line is that many of the activities people around you are taking part in you are just as likely to take part in as well. if the behavior of those who stand out in the population is the most observed then what can we do to sort of mediate certain behavior? Well, it’s hard to say because once behaviors have become habitual they are hard to let go of. Operant Conditioning

According to Kail and Cavanaugh the theory established by Skinner known as operant conditioning is a “learning paradigm in which the consequences of a behavior determine whether a behavior is repeated in the future” (p. 13). This theory to an extent, parallels the previous theory of operant conditioning but is also important in trying to understand why one makes the decisions they do as well as how often they partake in certain behaviors. Through his theory Skinner displayed that there are two types of consequences, reinforcement and punishment, in which one increases the chances of repeated behavior and the other vice versa. Reinforcement is the component that increases the likeliness of repeated behavior and includes two divisions, negative and positive. Negative reinforcement is that in which a person’s behavior is rewarded by the elimination of things that do not please them whereas with positive reinforcement rewards such as money or simply praise from others is received. The consequence of punishment, on the other hand, decreases the chances of someone repeating a certain behavior because it’ll be unfavorable in the eyes of others. So to apply this operant conditioning theory to the issue of teen...

Cited: Kail, R. V., Cavanaugh J. C. , (2013). Human Development: A Life-Span View. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Crandell, T. L., Zanden, J. W. V., & Crandell, C. H. (2009). Human Development. New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Bandura, Albert, (1971). Social Learning Theory. New York City, NY: General Learning Corporation
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