Personality is a fascinating subject to study, because every person has a personality that is unique and complex. Personality theorists spend their time studying the reasons why people act the way they do. Are their innate processes that ensure a person will react to a situation differently if he is hungry? How will two different people behave if they both witness the same automobile crash?
How behavior is affected and determined has been studied for years, and there are many different theories. Two theorists who have contributed significantly to this field of study are Bandura and Maslow.
Bandura, like all behaviorists, was primarily interested in the stimulus-response branch of psychology. Having studied Skinner’s approach to Behaviorism, Bandura did agree that external forces contributed to behaviors. He believed environmental situations and reinforcers lead to certain behaviors. But Bandura also set out to answer some problems he found with Skinner’s theory. As Wagner (2009) states, even in his earliest work, Bandura argued that believing behavior could only be caused by a stimulus-response cycle was too simplistic.
His studies led him to believe that behavior was not only a reaction to environmental stimuli as Skinner had proposed, but could also be learned from watching a model perform the behavior that could be copied. He also believed that learning could be cognitive. One of the most significant observations Bandura made during his studies was that while the environment did cause behaviors, behaviors could also create an environment. This phenomenon he called reciprocal determinism: The world and a person’s behavior cause each other.
Bandura also believed that self-efficacy contributed to behavior. A person’s internal need to attain goals could cause them to behave in a way that ensured them success. Due to his research, Bandura argued that external and internal factors affected behavior. People can choose to act a certain way, or the environment can cause them to act a certain way. Another theorist who made significant contributions to personality and behavior theory was Maslow. His most significant theory was his idea of a hierarchy of human needs.
At the most basic level, humans have intrinsic needs, such as food and shelter, and the feeling of safety. Internal factors such as being hungry and the ability to breathe properly contribute to outward behaviors. Lemer (2000) summarized Maslow’s ideas into a practical application, by stating that, with children, adults should address the higher level needs for safety, security and knowledge only after the most primitive biological needs are met. Clearly, internal needs factor into behavior.
As a people move up the hierarchy however, external factors begin to play a much larger role in behavior choice. Concepts such as morality, respect, and self-esteem are influenced by external factors such as societal demands and personal interactions. Maslow, like Bandura, believed that both internal and external factors contributed to behaviors. People behave certain ways at certain times due to a myriad of factors. Both of these theorists make powerful cases for the idea that behavior is both intrinsically and externally motivated. The case for internal motivation is solid.
There are times when people choose to behave in a certain manner due to a need for respect, to fulfill a perceived role, or to attain a goal. Their behavior during those times is due to an internal desire for something. However, there are other times when environmental factors also cause behavior. A person may be trying to act a certain way, but a situation may arise that causes them to change the course of their behavior. It is also true that people can learn through simple observation, and this has to be caused by both internal and external factors.
The environment and the situation the person is watching is shaping their behavior. But it also the internal need to duplicate the behavior of the other person that causes them to watch and learn. Both Bandura and Maslow believed that behavior was both internally and externally motivated. References Wagner, K. V. (2009). Albert Bandura biography. Retrieved May 10, 2009 from http://psychology. about. com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/bio_bandura. htmfrom Lemer, P. S. (2000). Treat needs, not behavior: Maslow for the millennium. New Developments, 6(2), 23-26.
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