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Theories of Personality by Behaviorism

The school of behaviorism emerged in the 1910s, led by John B. Watson. Unlike
psychodynamic theorists, behaviorists study only observable behavior. Their
explanations of personality focus on learning. Skinner, Bandura, and Pavlov all
proposed important behaviorist theories.” Our behaviors are reflections of our
personality. Behaviorists such as Skinner and Rotter have formulated their
respective theorists of personality.”
B. F. Skinner– Operant Conditioning:
B.F. Skinner proposed that our differences in our learning experiences are the main
reason behind our individual differences in our behavior. And we learn these
patterns of behavior either directly (reward as positive reinforcement of good
behavior or punishment as a negative reinforcement of bad behavior) or indirectly
(through observational learning or modeling).

Skinner believed that it is simply human nature that we behave in such a way that
we would receive rewards or favorable things. If we want to experience
reinforcement, then we should develop personality traits that are positive, such as
those attributes included in the "agreeableness" category of the Big Five (e.g. being
understanding, compassionate, empathetic, and a positive thinker). In this sense,
Skinner argued that we respond to every kind of reinforcement, and that our
behavior and personality traits can be shaped and controlled by the society. In
addition to this, Skinner implied that if we want our negative traits to be changed
into positive ones, we must changed our environment first. This strict behaviorist
point of view tries to refute other psychologist’s belief that we must alter our inner
self first (that is, our own personality traits) before we can fully experience the
change that we want.

Albert Bandura- observational learning:

Albert Bandura created his personality theory in 1977. According to sources I


have researched, Bandura indeed drew inspiration from other psychological
sources, such as behaviorist learning, as well as cognitive learning. Although,
Bandura's theory incorporates some aspects from behaviorist and cognitive
learning, his theory is unique. Not only because he discovered that human learn
from each other, but through observational learning and imitation. Bandura's
personality theory has been the emulsifier between behaviorist and cognitive
learning.

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The overall concept of Bandura's personality theory can be seen in his
experiment with the Bobo doll. Basically what his theory entails is that humans
learn through observing others actions, behaviors, and the outcome of these
behaviors. Essentially what he believes is that humans behavior is effected by and
affects the world/environment around them.

This is better explained in Bandura's theory by a word called reciprocal


determinism, which means, according to the American Psychological Association,
that reciprocal determinism "is a concept of Albert Bandura's social learning theory
that refers to the notion that a complex reciprocal interaction exists among the
individual, his or her behavior, and environmental stimuli and that each of these
components affects the others."

Ivan Pavlov – Classical Conditioning:

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian psychologist who developed the theory of classical
conditioning to describe behavior. His theory endorses a behavioral approach
to personality and states that people simply respond to their given environments
and do not consciously choose any given behavior. His theory is concerned with
the question of activity versus reactivity.

Pavlov was actually a physician who was studying gastric functioning in dogs by
examining their saliva in various feeding conditions. During some of his
experiments, Pavlov observed that the dogs began to salivate before they were
even given any food. Upon further investigation, Pavlov discovered that the dogs
salivated in response to hearing a sound from the mechanism that delivered the
food. Pavlov realized something 'unusual' was occurring because he knew that
dogs don't instinctively salivate in response to a sound.
After further investigation, Pavlov realized that the dogs "learned" that every time
they heard that sound, they were about to be fed. This "pairing" of a stimulus that
naturally caused a biological response with another stimulus that did not
reflexively cause a response is the essence of classical conditioning. The vital part
is the pairing of the two stimuli that precedes the conditioning of a reflexive
response to the neutral stimulus.
Conditioned responses are not permanent however. Upon further
investigation, Pavlov discovered that after several times of ringing the bell without
giving dogs food that the dogs would re-learn that the bell was no longer
associated with being fed. This process is called extinction. If the conditioned
response is never paired again with the neutral stimulus then the conditioned
response will fade and then disappear.

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