There are several psychological theories that try to experience human behavior. They are mainly divided into six groups each with its focus (Burke, 2008). The behavioral theories look at human behavior based on the idea that it is through conditioning that behavior is acquired. Cognitive theories look at internalized states such as problem solving and motivation. Developmental theories offer thoughts on human development, growth and learning. Humanist theories look at human experiences as part of collective human needs and condition.
Personality theories examine patterns of behavior, feelings and thoughts unique to a person. Social psychology theories examine social behavior and social phenomenon. All the theories look at human being and try to explain it (Burke, 2008). The theories offer as well knowledge that can sometimes help modify behavior. Growing up my experiences have led me to prove or disapprove some of these psychological theories. On reflection some theories seem to explain the behaviors that I exhibited. Developmental theory. One of the theories that explain my behavior as a teenager is the social learning theory.
The theory proposed by Albert Bandura argues that one of the ways that people learn new behaviors is by observing other peoples behavior (Bandura, 1976). In my case, growing up as a new cheerleader I looked at how other girls behaved at cheerleading tournament to decipher what the proper behavior was in certain situations. By looking at how my teammates remained optimistic and cheered wildly even when our team was down, I imitated their behavior as the right thing to do. Bandura offered concepts to basic social learning. To begin with social learning depends on and begins with observational learning (Bandura, 1976).
He identified three models of observational learning; a live model, a verbal instructional model and a symbolic model (Bandura, 1976). In my case, I was modeling my behavior after live models who were my teammates. Social learning also involves mental states. While extrinsic reinforcement plays a big role in learning, intrinsic reinforcement influences behavior. He found that reward received on the inside of a person like satisfaction and pride influences learning and subsequent behavior. In my case, one of the rewards was fitting in with my teammates.
The cheerleading squad was very close and if one did not fit in they would be treated as an outsider. So I observed the skills of my team mates especially those who were able to rally everyone. By following in their footsteps, I was soon able to encourage my teammates even when our team was doing poorly. I was happy that soon they would not want to attend any cheering games without me around and nominated me to be head of the cheerleading squad. Looking back, I can see that my behavior was fueled by the internal reward of acceptance and admiration.
Bandura also noted that though learning may take place and new information may be gotten, behavioral change may not occur (Bandura, 1976). Some factors affect the process of learning influencing the outcome. Models who inspire interest facilitate learning since learners can give them the necessary attention required for learning. In my case, I had always admired the cheering squad of our school. As a result, I fully dedicated myself to the process of learning how to be like them. Everything that the leader taught us was something I had always wanted to know and I felt lucky to have the leader mentor me.
A learner’s ability to retain information gathered affects learning (Bandura, 1976). If information can not be retrieved, it can not be acted upon. One of the factors that affect retention of information is a brain’s condition. A young brain like mine was without defects was able to retain information and retrieve it. Being able to retain the information and retrieve it meant that the learning would be a continuous process (Bandura, 1976). Next in the learning process is reproduction of the observed and retained behavior. In my case I got a lot of opportunity to reproduce the desired behavior.
Every time we had a tournament I would practice the behavior I was learning. With lots of practice, I was able to have the same behavior the other cheering squad members had and no one might have known who learnt from whom. Motivation plays the last part of learning (Bandura, 1976). Motivation to learn the desired behavior can be through direct reinforcement of the learner or what the learner observes others receive. In my case, seeing the admiration the cheering squad got even before I joined them motivated me to pursue joining the squad.
After joining the squad, I noticed how the cheering squad members got attention and praise. I was therefore motivated to excel in my cheering skills. Personality theory One of the personality theories that can also explain my behavior is the trait personality theory. The trait theory proposes that people’s personalities are made up of diverse inclinations (Burke, 2008). The traits are stable characteristic that make people behave in a certain manner. Several traits when playing together are what make up a personality.
Several psychologists have come up with proposals of personality. One of the personality categorization is the Big Five personality which presents five dimensions to the human personality that determines our behavior (Burke, 2008). One of the five dimensions is extraversion referring to an individual’s expressiveness of emotional feelings (Engler, 2008). In my case being emotionally open I was able to express what I wanted from the cheering squad and if I was unhappy I found myself voicing my disapproval. Sometimes the squad would make fun of teams playing against our team.
I would always be open about my disapproval and would not participate if I felt that our behavior was closing the line. The second dimension is agreeableness referring to attributes that promote social behaviors (Engler, 2008). Some people are able to be sociable with others and fit in quickly with the cheering squad. Mingling with others would be the highlight of my day and I found that I always picked activities that leaned towards socializing. Whenever a new member joined the squad I would be curious to know about them and I was the one introducing them to the others.
The third dimension is conscientiousness referring to traits of organization, impulse control and goal centered behaviors (Engler, 2008). People with these traits behave in ways that are organized. In my case I was praised for my punctuality and seriousness in our training. I found that if I was serious with my goal I had to see it through by giving it the right time and effort. Many trainees dropped out because the training required lots of dedication. For me, school work and my training could be combined by thoroughly planning all the details involved and being aware of what each needed.
The fourth dimension is neuroticism referring to people who tend to exhibit anxiety, moodiness and emotional instability (Engler, 2008). Despite being in similar situations with others, these tend to show different reaction. In my case I found my time as a member of the cheering squad to be fun. Though many times things didn’t go the way I wanted them to, to brood over that would rob me of opportunities to have a good time. By being myself, I was therefore able to enjoy my cheering time and I look back at it with happiness. The last dimension is openness (Engler, 2008).
People with this trait show a lot of interests, insight and imagination. These people usually have many hobbies and are involved in many activities. In my case being a member of the cheering squad was only part of the many interests I had. I was a member of about five clubs and a leader in three of them. I was happy to be a cheering squad member and enjoyed coming up with new routine moves. I became the youngest cheerleader in the history of my school and we had the most unique routines during competition thanks to my creativity and the invitation I gave to all the members to share their creations.
Although the developmental and personality theories do not fully explain all my behaviors during my cheering time in school, they enlighten some of the behaviors and explain why I behaved the way I did. References Albert Bandura. (1976). Social Learning Theory. New jersey: Prentice Hall. Barbara Engler. (2008). Personality Theories. Boston: Wadsworth publishing. Peter, J. Burke(Ed. ). (2006). Contemporary Social theories. Carlifornia: Stanford Sciences.
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