Personality Theory | Albert Bandura, Julian Rotter, & Walter Mischel (2022)

Created July 7, 2017 by userMark Kelland

The social learning theorists observed that thecomplexity of human behavior cannot easily be explained by traditionalbehavioral theories. Bandura recognizedthat people learn a great deal from watching other people and seeing therewards and/or punishments that other people receive. Social learning theorists do not deny theinfluence of reinforcement and punishment, but rather, they suggest that it canbe experienced through observation and does not require direct, personalexperience as Skinner would argue. Inaddition, observational learning requires cognition, something that radicalbehaviorists consider outside the realm of psychological research, sincecognition cannot be observed. Banduratook a broad theoretical perspective on social learning, whereas Rotter andMischel focused more closely on specific cognitive aspects of social learningand behavior.

It is also important to point out an artificialdistinction that is difficult to avoid in the chapters of this section. Chapters 10, 11, and 12 are roughly set up aschapters on radical behaviorism and formal learning theory, followed by sociallearning, and then concluding with cognitive theories on personalitydevelopment. However, as will beevident, the chapters overlap a great deal.For example, Dollard and Miller’s attempt to find a middle groundbetween Freud and Skinner led to their initial descriptions of social learning,which provided a prelude to this chapter.Bandura, Rotter, and Mischel address a number of aspects of cognition intheir theories, but they are not as completely focused on cognition as areKelly, Beck, and Ellis, hence the separation of this chapter from the followingone. In Social Learning Theory, Bandura had this to say:

A valid criticism of extremebehaviorism is that, in a vigorous effort to avoid spurious inner causes, ithas neglected determinants of behavior arising from cognitivefunctioning…Because some of the inner causes invoked by theorists over theyears have been ill-founded does not justify excluding all internaldeterminants from scientific inquiry…such studies reveal that people learn andretain behavior much better by using cognitive aids that they generate than byreinforced repetitive performance…A theory that denies that thoughts canregulate actions does not lend itself readily to the explanation of complexhuman behavior. (pg. 10; Bandura, 1977).

Albert Bandura and Social Learning Theory

Bandura is the most widely recognized individual in thefield of social learning theory,despite the facts that Dollard and Miller established the field and Rotter wasbeginning to examine cognitive social learning a few years before Bandura. Nonetheless, Bandura’s research has had themost significant impact, and the effects of modeling on aggressive behavior continue to be studied today (see“Personality Theory in Real Life” at the end of the chapter). Therefore, we will begin this chapter byexamining the basics of Bandura’s social learning perspective.

Brief Biography of Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura was born in 1925, in the small town ofMundare, in northern Alberta, Canada.His parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe (his father from Poland,his mother from the Ukraine), and eventually saved enough money to buy afarm. Farming in northern Canada was noteasy. One of Bandura’s sisters diedduring a flu pandemic, one of his brothers died in a hunting accident, and partof the family farm was lost during the Great Depression. Nonetheless, the Bandura family persevered,and maintained a lively and happy home.

AlthoughBandura’s parents lacked any formal education, they stressed its value. Despite having only one small school in town,which lacked both teachers and academic resources, the town’s childrendeveloped a love of learning and most of them attended universities around theworld. Following the encouragement ofhis parents, Bandura also sought a wide variety of other experiences while hewas young. He worked in a furnituremanufacturing plant, and performed maintenance on the Trans-Alaska highway. The latter experience, in particular,introduced Bandura to a variety of unusual individuals, and offered a uniqueperspective on psychopathology in everyday life.

When Bandura went to the University of British Columbia,he intended to major in biology.However, he had joined a carpool with engineering and pre-med studentswho attended classes early in the morning.Bandura looked for a class to fit this schedule, and happened to noticethat an introductory psychology course was offered at that time. Bandura enjoyed the class so much that hechanged his major to psychology, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1949. Bandura then attended graduate school at theUniversity of Iowa, in a psychology department strongly influenced by KennethSpence, a former student of Clark Hull.Thus, the psychology program at the University of Iowa was stronglybehavioral in its orientation, and they were well versed in the behavioralresearch conducted in the psychology department at Yale University.

As we saw in the previous chapter, John Dollard and NealMiller had established the field of social learning at Yale in the 1930s, butthey had done so within the conceptual guidelines of Hullian learningtheory. Bandura was not particularlyinterested in Hull’s approach to learning, but he was impressed by Dollard andMiller’s concepts of modeling and imitation.Bandura received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1952, and thenbegan a postdoctoral position at the Wichita Guidance Center. Bandura was attracted to this position, inpart, because the psychologist in charge was not heavily immersed in theFreudian psychodynamic approach that was still so prevalent in clinicalpsychology.

Following his postdoctoral training, Bandura became amember of the faculty at Stanford University, where he spent the rest of hiscareer. The chairman of Bandura’sdepartment had been studying frustration and aggression, and this influencedBandura to begin his own studies on social learning and aggression. This research revealed the critical role thatmodeling plays in social learning, and soon resulted in the publication of Adolescent Aggression (co-authored byRichard Walters, Bandura’s first graduate student; Bandura & Walters,1959). This line of research also led tothe famous “Bobo” doll studies, which helped to demonstrate that even youngchildren can learn aggressive behavior by observing models. Bandura then became interested inself-regulatory behavior in children, and one of the colleagues he collaboratedwith was Walter Mischel, whose work we will address later in this chapter. During his long and productive career,Bandura became more and more interested in the role played by cognition insocial learning, eventually renaming his theory to reflect his social cognitiveperspective on human learning. He alsoexamined the role of the individual in influencing the nature of theenvironment in which they experience life, and how their own expectations ofself-efficacy affect their willingness to participate in aspects of that life.

Bandura has received numerous honors during hiscareer. Included among them, he hasserved as president of the American Psychological Association and received a Distinguished Scientific Contribution Awardfrom APA. He received the William James Award from the AmericanPsychological Society (known today as the Association for PsychologicalScience), a Guggenheim Fellowship, the DistinguishedContribution Award from the International Society for Research inAggression, and a Distinguished ScientistAward from the Society of Behavioral Medicine. Bandura has also been elected to the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences, to the Institute of Medicine of the NationalAcademy of Sciences, and he has received numerous honorary degrees fromuniversities around the world. The listgoes on, not the least of which is his OutstandingLifetime Contribution to Psychology Award, received from APA in 2004.

Placing Bandura in Context: Social Learning Theory
Establishes Its Independence

Although social learning theory has its foundation in the work of Dollard and Miller, they addressed social learning in the context of Hullian learning theory (complete with mathematical formulae). Bandura shifted the focus of social learning away from traditional behavioral perspectives, and established social learning as a theory on its own. Bandura also freely acknowledged cognition in the learning process, something that earlier behaviorists had actively avoided. By acknowledging both the external processes of reinforcement and punishment and the internal cognitive processes that make humans so complex, Bandura provided a comprehensive theory of personality that has been very influential.

Although Bandura criticized both operant conditioning and Pavlovian conditioning as being too radical, he relied on a procedure that came from Pavlovian conditioning research for one of his most influential concepts: the use of modeling. The modeling procedure was developed by Mary Cover Jones, a student of John B. Watson, in her attempts to counter-condition learned phobias. Subsequent to the infamous “Little Albert” studies conducted by Watson, Jones used models to interact in a pleasant manner with a rabbit that test subjects had been conditioned to fear. After a few sessions, the test subjects were no longer afraid of the rabbit (see Stagner, 1988). This may have been the first use of behavior therapy, and Bandura’s use of the procedure helped to bring together different behavioral disciplines.

Perhaps one of Bandura’s most significant contributions, however, has been the application of his theory to many forms of media. Congressional committees have debated the influence of modeling aggression through violent television programs, movies, and video games. We now have ratings on each of those forms of media, and yet the debate continues because of the levels of aggression seen in our schools, in particular, and society in general. Bandura’s Bobo doll studies are certainly among of the best known studies in psychology, and they are also among the most influential in terms of practical daily applications. The long list of awards that Bandura has received is a testament to both his influence on psychology and the respect that influence has earned for him.

Reciprocal Determinism

One of the most important aspects of Bandura’s view onhow personality is learned is that each one of us is an agent of change, fullyparticipating in our surroundings and influencing the environmentalcontingencies that behaviorists believe affect our behavior. These interactions can be viewed threedifferent ways. The first is to considerbehavior as a function of the person and the environment. In this view, personal dispositions (ortraits) and the consequences of our actions (reinforcement or punishment)combine to cause our behavior. Thisperspective is closest to the radical behaviorism of Skinner. The second view considers that personaldispositions and the environment interact, and the result of the interactioncauses our behavior, a view somewhat closer to that of Dollard and Miller. In each of these perspectives, behavior iscaused, or determined, by dispositional and environmental factors, the behavioritself is not a factor in how that behavior comes about. However, according to Bandura, sociallearning theory emphasizes that behavior, personal factors, and environmentalfactors are all equal, interlocking determinants of each other. This concept is referred to as reciprocal determinism (Bandura, 1973,1977).

Reciprocal determinism can be seen in everydayobservations, such as those made by Bandura and others during their studies ofaggression. For example, approximately75 percent of the time, hostile behavior results in unfriendly responses,whereas friendly acts seldom result in such consequences. With little effort, it becomes easy torecognize individuals who create negative social climates (Bandura, 1973). Thus, while it may still be true thatchanging environmental contingencies changes behavior, it is also true thatchanging behavior alters the environmental contingencies. This results in a unique perspective onfreedom vs. determinism. Usually wethink of determinism as something that eliminates or restricts ourfreedom. However, Bandura believed thatindividuals can intentionally act as agents of change within their environment,thus altering the factors that determine their behavior. In other words, we have the freedom toinfluence that which determines our behavior:

…Giventhe same environmental constraints, individuals who have many behavioraloptions and are adept at regulating their own behavior will experience greaterfreedom than will individuals whose personal resources are limited. (pg. 203;Bandura, 1977)

Discussion Question: According to the theory of reciprocal determinism, our behavior interacts with our environment and our personality variables to influence our life. Can you think of situations in which your actions caused a noticeable change in the people or situations around you? Remember that these changes can be either good or bad.

Observational Learning and Aggression

Social learning is also commonly referred to as observational learning, because itcomes about as a result of observing models. Bandura became interested in social aspectsof learning at the beginning of his career.Trained as a clinical psychologist, he began working with juveniledelinquents, a somewhat outdated term that is essentially a socio-legaldescription of adolescents who engage in antisocial behavior. In the 1950s there was already research onthe relationships between aggressive boys and their parents, as well as sometheoretical perspectives regarding the effects of different child-rearingpractices on the behavior and attitudes of adolescent boys (Bandura &Walters, 1959). Much of the researchfocused, however, on sociological issues involved in the environment ofdelinquent boys. Choosing a different approach,Bandura decided to study boys who had no obvious sociological disadvantages(such as poverty, language difficulties due to recent immigration, low IQ,etc.). Bandura and Walters restrictedtheir sample to boys of average or above average intelligence, from intacthomes, with steadily employed parents, whose families had been settled inAmerica for at least three generations.No children from minority groups were included either. In other words, the boys were from apparentlytypical, White, middle-class American families.And yet, half of the boys studied were identified through the countyprobation service or their school guidance center as demonstrating serious,repetitive, antisocial, aggressive behavior (Bandura & Walters, 1959).

Citing the work of Dollard and Miller, as well as otherswho paved the way for social learning theory, Bandura and Walters began theirstudy on adolescent aggression by examining how the parents of delinquentstrain their children to be socialized.Working from a general learning perspective, emphasizing cues andconsequences, they found significant problems in the development ofsocialization among the delinquent boys.These boys developed dependency, a necessary step toward socialization,but they were not taught to conform their behavior to the expectations ofsociety. Consequently, they began todemand immediate and unconditional gratification from their surroundings,something that seldom happens. Ofcourse, this failure to learn proper socialization does not necessarily lead toaggression, since it can also lead to lifestyles such as the hobo, thebohemian, or the “beatnik” (Bandura & Walters, 1959). Why then do some boys become soaggressive? To briefly summarize theirstudy, Bandura and Walters found that parents of delinquent boys were morelikely to model aggressive behavior and to use coercive punishment (as opposedto reasoning with their children to help them conform to social norms). Although parental modeling of aggressivebehavior teaches such behavior to children, these parents tend to be effectiveat suppressing their children’s aggressive behavior at home. In contrast, however, they provide subtleencouragement for aggression outside the home.As a result, these poorly socialized boys are likely to displace theaggressive impulses that develop in the home, and they are well trained indoing so. If they happen to associatewith a delinquent group (such as a gang), they are provided with an opportunityto learn new and more effective ways to engage in antisocial behavior, and theyare directly rewarded for engaging in such behaviors (Bandura & Walters,1959; also see Bandura, 1973).

Having found evidence that parents of aggressive,delinquent boys had modeled aggressive behavior, Bandura and his colleaguesembarked on a series of studies on the modeling of aggression (Bandura, Ross,& Ross, 1961, 1963a,b). Initially,children were given the opportunity to play in a room containing a variety oftoys, including the 5-foot tall, inflated Bobo doll (a toy clown). As part of the experiment, an adult (themodel) was also invited into the room to join in the game. When the model exhibited clear aggressivebehavior toward the Bobo doll, and then the children were allowed to play ontheir own, they children demonstrated aggressive behavior as well. The children who observed a model who was notaggressive seldom demonstrated aggressive behavior, thus confirming that theaggression in the experimental group resulted from observational learning. In the second study, children who observedthe behavior of aggressive models on film also demonstrated a significantincrease in aggressive behavior, suggesting that the physical presence of themodel is not necessary (providing an important implication for violentaggression on TV and in movies; see “Personality in Theory in Real Life” at theend of the chapter). In addition toconfirming the role of observation or social learning in the development ofaggressive behavior, these studies also provided a starting point for examiningwhat it is that makes a model influential.

One of the significant findings in this line of researchon aggression is the influence of models on behavioral restraint. When children are exposed to models who arenot aggressive and who inhibit their own behavior, the children also tend toinhibit their own aggressive responses and to restrict their range of behaviorin general (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1961).Thus, children can learn from others, in particular their parents, howto regulate their behavior in socially appropriate ways. When the inappropriate behavior of others ispunished, the children observing are also vicariously punished, and likely toexperience anxiety, if not outright fear, when they consider engaging insimilar inappropriate behavior. However,when models behave aggressively and their behavior is rewarded, or even justtolerated, the child’s own tendency to restrict aggressive impulses may beweakened. This weakening of restraint,which can then lead to acting out aggressive impulses, is known as disinhibition:

Modeling may produce disinhibitoryeffects in several ways. When peoplerespond approvingly or even indifferently to the actions of assailants, theyconvey the impression that aggression is not only acceptable but expected insimilar situations. By thus legitimizingaggressive conduct, observers anticipate less risk of reprimand or loss ofself-respect for such action. (pg. 129; Bandura, 1973)

Discussion Question: The concept of disinhibition is based on the belief that we all have aggressive tendencies, and our self-control is diminished when we see models rewarded for aggressive behavior. Have you ever found yourself in situations where someone was rewarded for acting aggressively? Did you then adopt an aggressive attitude, or act out on your aggression?

Characteristics of the Modeling Situation

When one person matches the behavior of another, thereare several perspectives on why that matching behavior occurs. Theorists who suggest that matching behaviorresults from simple imitation don’tallow for any significant psychological changes. Dollard and Miller discussed imitation intheir attempts to combine traditional learning theory with a psychodynamicperspective, but they did not advance the theory very far. A more traditional psychodynamic approach describesmatching behavior as the result of identification,the concept that an observer connects with a model in some psychologicalway. However, identification meansdifferent things to different theorists, and the term remains somewhat vague. In social learning, as it has been advancedby Bandura, modeling is the term that best describes and, therefore, is used tocharacterize the psychological processes that underlie matching behavior(Bandura, 1986).

Observational learning through modeling is not merely analternative to Pavlovian or operant conditioning:


Learning would be exceedinglylaborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on theeffects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learnedobservationally through modeling: fromobserving others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and onlater occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action. (pg. 22;Bandura, 1977)

Individuals differ in the degree to which they can beinfluenced by models, and not all models are equally effective. According to Bandura, three factors are mostinfluential in terms of the effectiveness of modeling situations: the characteristics of the model, theattributes of the observers, and the consequences of the model’s actions. The most relevant characteristics of aninfluential model are high status, competence, and power. When observers are unsure about a situation,they rely on cues to indicate what they perceive as evidence of past success bythe model. Such cues include generalappearance, symbols of socioeconomic success (e.g., a fancy sports car), andsigns of expertise (e.g., a doctor’s lab coat).Since those models appear to have been successful themselves, it seemslogical that observers might want to imitate their behavior. Individuals who are low in self-esteem,dependent, and who lack confidence are not necessarily more likely to beinfluenced by models. Bandura proposedthat when modeling is used to explicitly develop new competencies, the ones whowill benefit most from the situation are those who are more talented and moreventuresome (Bandura, 1977).

Despite the potential influence of models, the entireprocess of observational learning in a social learning environment wouldprobably not be successful if not for four important component processes: attentionalprocesses, retention processes, production (or reproduction) processes, and motivational processes (Bandura, 1977, 1986). The fact that an observer must pay attentionto a model might seem obvious, but some models are more likely to attractattention. Individuals are more likelyto pay attention to models with whom they associate, even if the association ismore cognitive than personal. It is alsowell-known that people who are admired, such as those who are physicallyattractive or popular athletes, make for attention-getting models. There are also certain types of media thatare very good at getting people’s attention, such as television advertisements(Bandura, 1977, 1986). It is a curiouscultural phenomenon that the television advertisements presented during theNational Football League’s Super Bowl have become almost as much of theexcitement as the game itself (and even more exciting for those who are notfootball fans)!

The retention processes involve primarily an observer’smemory for the modeled behavior. Themost important memory processes, according to Bandura, are visual imagery andverbal coding, with visual imagery being particularly important early indevelopment when verbal skills are limited.Once modeled behavior has been transformed into visual and/or verbalcodes, these memories can serve to guide the performance of the behavior atappropriate times. When the modeledbehavior is produced by the observer, the so-called production process, there-enactment can be broken down into the cognitive organization of theresponses, their initiation, subsequent monitoring, and finally the refinementof the behavior based on informative feedback.Producing complex modeled behaviors is not always an easy task:

…Acommon problem in learning complex skills, such as golf or swimming, is thatperformers cannot fully observe their responses, and must therefore rely uponvague kinesthetic cues or verbal reports of onlookers. It is difficult to guide actions that areonly partially observable or to identify the corrections needed to achieve aclose match between representation and performance. (pg. 28; Bandura, 1977)

Finally, motivationalprocesses determine whether the observer is inclined to match the modeledbehavior in the first place. Individualsare most likely to model behaviors that result in an outcome they value, and ifthe behavior seems to be effective for the models who demonstrated thebehavior. Given the complexity of the relationshipsbetween models, observers, the perceived effectiveness of modeled behavior, andthe subjective value of rewards, even using prominent models does not guaranteethat they will be able to create similar behavior in observers (Bandura, 1977,1986).

A common misconception regarding modeling is that it onlyleads to learning the behaviors that have been modeled. However, modeling can lead to innovativebehavior patterns. Observers typicallysee a given behavior performed by multiple models; even in early childhood oneoften gets to see both parents model a given behavior. When the behavior is then matched, theobserver will typically select elements from the different models, relying ononly certain aspects of the behavior performed by each, and then create aunique pattern that accomplishes the final behavior. Thus, partial departures from the originallymodeled behavior can be a source of new directions, especially in creativeendeavors (such as composing music or creating a sculpture). In contrast, however, when simple routinesprove useful, modeling can actually stifle innovation. So, the most innovative individuals appear tobe those who have been exposed to innovative models, provided that the modelsare not so innovative as to create an unreasonably difficult challenge inmodeling their creativity and innovation (Bandura, 1977, 1986; Bandura, Ross,& Ross, 1963b).

Discussion Question: Two of the components necessary for modeling to be effective, according to Bandura, are attention and retention. What aspects of commercial advertisements are most likely to catch your attention? What do you tend to remember about advertisements? Can you think of situations in which the way an advertiser gets your attention also helps you to remember the product?

Connections Across Cultures: Global Marketing and Advertising

Although we are constantly surrounded by modeling situations, the most obvious and intentional use of models and modeling is in advertising. As our world becomes increasingly global, the use of advertisements that work well in one place may be entirely inappropriate in a different culture. Marieke de Mooij, the president of a cross-cultural communications consulting firm in the Netherlands, and a visiting professor at universities in the Netherlands, Spain, Finland, and Germany, has undertaken the challenging task of studying how culture affects consumer behavior and the consequences of those effects for marketing and advertising in different societies around the world (de Mooij, 2000, 2004a,b, 2005).

To some, increasing globalization suggests that markets around the world will become more similar to one another. De Mooij (2000), however, contends that as different cultures become more similar in economic terms, their more personal cultural differences will actually become more significant! Thus, it is essential for global businesses to understand those cultural differences, so that marketing and advertising can be appropriately adjusted. The challenge is in recognizing and dealing with the “global-local paradox.” People in business are taught to think global, but act local. This is because most people throughout the world tend to prefer things that are familiar. They may adopt and enjoy global products, but they remain true to their own culture (de Mooij, 2005). Thus, it is important to understand local culture and consumer behavior in general before beginning an advertising campaign in a foreign country.

In her studies on culture and consumer behavior, de Mooij (2004b, 2005) addresses a wide variety of topics, including several that are covered in this chapter. In terms of the characteristics of models, many countries do not emphasize physical attractiveness and/or fashionable clothes the way we do in America. However, the overall aesthetic appeal of advertising can be more important in many Asian markets, focusing on preferences for values such as nature and harmony. Given that America is generally an individualistic culture and most Asian cultures are collectivistic, it should be no surprise that Americans tend to focus on the appeal of the model whereas Asians tend to focus on the appeal of the overall scene and relationships amongst the various aspects depicted within it. In a similar way, cultures differ in terms of their general perspective on locus of control. In cultures that tend to believe that their lives are determined by external forces, the moral authorities (such as the church and the press) are typically trusted. People in such cultures might not be responsiveness to advertisements that call for individual restraint, such as efforts to reduce cigarette smoking for better health, since they rely on their doctors (external agents) to take care of their health.

There are also significant differences in how people in different cultures think and process information, and cognitive processes underlie all aspects of social learning. Involvement theory suggests differences in how individuals and cultures differ in their approach to purchasing, and how advertising must take those differences into account. For example, amongst American consumers considering a “high involvement” product (such as a car), those who are likely to buy something respond to advertising in which they learn something, develop a favorable attitude toward the product, and then buy it (learn-feel-do). For everyday products, which are considered “low involvement,” consumers respond to advertising in which they learn something, then buy the product, and perhaps afterward they tend to prefer that brand (learn-do-feel). There is now evidence that in typically more collectivist cultures such as Japan, China, and Korea, it is important to first establish a relationship between the company and the consumer. Only then does the consumer purchase the particular product, and then they become more familiar with it (feel-do-learn). Thus, the very purpose of advertising changes from culture to culture (de Mooij, 2004b). Naturally, a number of other approaches to advertising exist, based on concepts such as: persuasion, awareness, emotions, and likeability (de Mooij, 2005). Each of these techniques relies on a different psychological approach, taking into account the observers that the advertiser hopes to influence (the so-called target demographic).

One of the most important aspects of advertising, when it is being carried from one culture to another, is the translation of verbal and written information. Different languages have different symbolic references. They rely on different myths, history, humor, and art, and failing to tap into such differences is likely to result in bland advertising that does not appeal to the local audience (de Mooij, 2004a). Other languages are simply structured differently as well, perhaps requiring meaning in a name, and this sometimes makes direct translation impossible. Thus, an international advertiser must choose a different name for their product. For example, Coca-Cola is marketed in China as the homonym kekou kele, which means “tasty and happy” (de Mooij, 2004a). Visual references also have cultural meanings. A Nokia ad, shown in Finland, used a squirrel in a forest to represent good reception and free movement in a deep forest. A Chinese group, however, understood it as depicting an animal that lives far away from people. They simply did not understand the intent of the commercial. Research on interpersonal verbal communication styles suggests that certain countries can be grouped into preferred styles. Based on a comparison of multiple dimensions of preferred verbal style, some of the countries that share similar styles are: 1) the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark; 2) Austria, Finland, and Germany; 3) India, China, and Singapore; and 4) Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Argentina, Brazil, and the Arab world (de Mooij, 2004a).

As challenging as it might seem to address these issues (and the many more we have not covered), it is essential for individuals involved in global marketing and advertising:

The cultural variety of countries worldwide as well as in Europe implies that success in one country does not automatically mean success in other countries…finding the most relevant cultural values is difficult, especially because many researchers are based in Western societies that are individualistic and have universalistic values. Western marketers, advertisers, and researchers are inclined to search for similarities, whereas understanding the differences will be more profitable…There are global products and global brands, but there are no global buying motives for such brands because people are not global. Understanding people across cultures is the first and most important step in international marketing. (pg. 314; de Mooij, 2004b)

Finally, none of these approaches to international marketing and advertising is going to be successful if business relationships are not established in the first place. In The Cultural Dimension of International Business, Ferraro (2006b) offers a comprehensive guide to understanding cultural differences. In addition to the importance of being aware of such factors, which the very existence of the books and articles in this section belies, Ferraro emphasizes cultural differences in communication. For individuals working in a foreign country where English is not the first language, good communication becomes a matter of intent:

Because communication is so vitally important for conducting business at home, it should come as no surprise that it is equally important for successful business abroad. The single best way to become an effective communicator as an expatriate is to learn the local language…Besides knowing how to speak another language, expatriate candidates should demonstrate a willingness to use it. For a variety of reasons, some people lack the motivation, confidence, or willingness to throw themselves into conversational situations. [Authors note: see the section on self-efficacy below] …Thus, communication skills must be assessed in terms of language competency, motivation to learn another language, and willingness to use it in professional and personal situations. (pg. 170; Ferraro, 2006b)

Self-Regulation and Self-Efficacy

Self-regulationand self-efficacy are two elementsof Bandura’s theory that rely heavily on cognitive processes. They represent an individual’s ability tocontrol their behavior through internal reward or punishment, in the case ofself-regulation, and their beliefs in their ability to achieve desired goals asa result of their own actions, in the case of self-efficacy. Bandura never rejects the influence ofexternal rewards or punishments, but he proposes that including internal, self-reinforcement and self-punishment expands the potentialfor learning:

…Theoriesthat explain human behavior as solely the product of external rewards andpunishments present a truncated image of people because they possessself-reactive capacities that enable them to exercise some control over theirown feelings, thoughts, and actions.Behavior is therefore regulated by the interplay of self-generated andexternal sources of influence… (pg. 129; Bandura, 1977)

Self-regulation is a general term that includes bothself-reinforcement and self-punishment.Self-reinforcement works primarily through its motivationaleffects. When an individual sets astandard of performance for themselves, they judge their behavior and determinewhether or not it meets the self-determined criteria for reward. Since many activities do not have absolutemeasures of success, the individual often sets their standards in relativeways. For example, a weight-lifter mightkeep track of how much total weight they lift in each training session, andthen monitor their improvement over time or as each competition arrives. Although competitions offer the potential forexternal reward, the individual might still set a personal standard for success,such as being satisfied only if they win at least one of the individuallifts. The standards that an individualsets for themselves can be learned through modeling. This can create problems when models are highlycompetent, much more so than the observer is capable of performing (such aslearning the standards of a world-class athlete). Children, however, seem to be more inclinedto model the standards of low-achieving or moderately competent models, settingstandards that are reasonably within their own reach (Bandura, 1977). According to Bandura, the cumulative effectof setting standards and regulating one’s own performance in terms of thosestandards can lead to judgments about one’s self. Within a social learning context, negativeself-concepts arise when one is prone to devalue oneself, whereas positiveself-concepts arise from a tendency to judge oneself favorably (Bandura,1977). Overall, the complexity of thisprocess makes predicting the behavior of an individual rather difficult, and behavioroften deviates from social norms in ways that would not ordinarily beexpected. However, this appears to bethe case in a variety of cultures, suggesting that it is indeed a naturalprocess for people (Bandura & Walters, 1963).

As noted above, “perceivedself-efficacy refers to beliefs in one’s capabilities to organize and executethe courses of action required to produce given attainments” (Bandura,1997). The desire to control ourcircumstances in life seems to have been with us throughout history. In ancient times, when people knew littleabout the world, they prayed in the hope that benevolent gods would help themand/or protect them from evil gods.Elaborate rituals were developed in the hope or belief that the godswould respond to their efforts and dedication.As we learned more about our world and how it works, we also learnedthat we can have a significant impact on it.Most importantly, we can have a direct effect on our immediate personalenvironment, especially with regard to personal relationships. What motivates us to try influencing ourenvironment is specific ways is the belief that we can, indeed, make adifference in a direction we want. Thus,research has focused largely on what people think about their efficacy, ratherthan on their actual ability to achieve their goals (Bandura, 1997).

Self-efficacy has been a popular topic for research, andBandura’s book Self-Efficacy: TheExercise of Control (1997) is some 600 pages long. We will address two key issues on thisfascinating topic: the relationshipsbetween (1) efficacy beliefs and outcome expectancies and (2) self-efficacy andself-esteem. In any situation, one has beliefs about one’sability to influence the situation, and yet those beliefs are typicallybalanced against realistic expectations that change can occur. Each side of the equation can have bothnegative and positive qualities.Suppose, as a student, you are concerned about the rising cost of acollege education, and you would like to challenge those rising costs. You may believe that there is nothing you cando (negative) and tuition and fees will inevitably increase (negative). This dual negative perspective leads toresignation and apathy, certainly not a favorable situation. But what if you believe you can change thecollege’s direction (positive), and that the college can cut certain costs inorder to offset the need for higher tuition (positive). Now you are likely to engage the collegecommunity in productive discussions, and this may lead to personal satisfaction(Bandura, 1997). In the first scenario,you are not likely to do anything, in the second scenario you will most likelybe highly motivated to act, even energized as you work toward productivechanges. Of course, there are two otherpossible scenarios. You may believethere is nothing you can do (negative), but that change is possible(positive). In this case, you are likelyto devalue yourself, perhaps feeling depressed about your own inability toaccomplish good. Conversely, you maybelieve there is something you can do (positive), but that external forces willmake change difficult or impossible (negative).This may lead some people to challenge the system in spite of their lackof expected change, resulting in protests and other forms of social activism(Bandura, 1997). Since all of thesescenarios are based on beliefs and expectations, not on the unknown eventualoutcome that will occur, it becomes clear that what we think about our abilityto perform in various situations, as well as our actual expectations of theconsequences of those actions, has both complex and profound effects on ourmotivation to engage in a particular behavior or course of action.

As for self-efficacy and self-esteem, these terms areoften used interchangeably, and on the surface that might seem appropriate. Wouldn’t we feel good about ourselves if webelieved in our abilities to achieve our goals?In fact, self-efficacy and self-esteem are entirely different:

…Thereis no fixed relationship between beliefs about one’s capabilities and whether onelikes or dislikes oneself. Individualsmay judge themselves hopelessly inefficacious in a given activity withoutsuffering any loss of self-esteem whatsoever, because they do not invest theirself-worth in that activity. (pg. 11; Bandura, 1997)

(Video) Social Learning Theories Bandura Rotter Mischel

For example, my family wasactive in the Korean martial art Taekwondo.Taekwondo emphasizes powerful kicks.Because I suffer from degenerative joint disease in both hips, there arecertain kicks I simply can’t do, and I don’t do any of the kicks particularly well. But I accept that, and focus my attention onareas where I am successful, such as forms and helping to teach the white beltclass. Likewise, Bandura notes that hiscomplete inefficacy in ballroom dancing does not lead him into bouts ofself-devaluation (Bandura, 1997). So,though it may improve our self-esteem to have realistic feelings ofself-efficacy in challenging situations, there is not necessarily anycorresponding loss of self-esteem when we acknowledge our weaknesses. And even positive self-efficacy might notlead to higher self-esteem when a task is simple or unpleasant. To cite Bandura’s example, someone might bevery good at evicting people from their homes when they can’t pay their rent ormortgage, but that skill might not lead to positive feelings ofself-esteem. This concept was the basisfor the classic story A Christmas Carol,featuring the character Ebenezer Scrooge (Charles Dickens, 1843/1994).

The Development of Self-Efficacy

Young children have little understanding of what they canand cannot do, so the development of realistic self-efficacy is a veryimportant process:

…Veryyoung children lack knowledge of their own capabilities and the demands andpotential hazards of different courses of action. They would repeatedly get themselves intodangerous predicaments were it not for the guidance of others. They can climb to high places, wander intorivers or deep pools, and wield sharp knives before they develop the necessaryskills for managing such situations safely…Adult watchfulness and guidance seeyoung children through this early formative period until they gain sufficientknowledge of what they can do and what different situations require in the wayof skills. (pg. 414; Bandura, 1986)

During infancy, the development of perceived causalefficacy, in other words the perception that one has affected the world byone’s own actions, appears to be an important aspect of developing a sense ofself. As the infant interacts with itsenvironment, the infant is able to cause predictable events, such as the soundthat accompanies shaking a rattle. Theunderstanding that one’s own actions can influence the environment is somethingBandura refers to as personal agency,the ability to act as an agent of change in one’s own world. The infant also begins to experience thatcertain events affect models differently than the child. For example, if a model touches a hot stoveit does not hurt the infant, so the infant begins to recognize their uniqueness,their actual existence as an individual.During this period, interactions with the physical environment may bemore important than social interactions, since the physical environment is morepredictable, and therefore easier to learn about (Bandura, 1986, 1997). Quickly, however, social interaction becomeshighly influential.

Not only does the child learn a great deal from thefamily, but as they grow peers become increasingly important. As the child’s world expands, peers bringwith them a broadening of self-efficacy experiences. This can have both positive and negativeconsequences. Peers who are mostexperienced and competent can become important models of behavior. However, if a child perceives themselves associally inefficacious, but does develop self-efficacy in coercive, aggressivebehavior, then that child is likely to become a bully. In the midst of this effort to learn sociallyacceptable behavior, most children also begin attending school, where theprimary focus is on the development of cognitive efficacy. For many children, unfortunately, theacademic environment of school is a challenge.Children quickly learn to rank themselves (grades help, both good andbad), and children who do poorly can lose the sense of self-efficacy that isnecessary for continued effort at school.According to Bandura, it is important that educational practices focusnot only on the content they provide, but also on what they do to children’sbeliefs about their abilities (Bandura, 1986, 1997).

As children continue through adolescence towardadulthood, they need to assume responsibility for themselves in all aspects oflife. They must master many new skills,and a sense of confidence in working toward the future is dependent on adeveloping sense of self-efficacy supported by past experiences ofmastery. In adulthood, a healthy andrealistic sense of self-efficacy provides the motivation necessary to pursuesuccess in one’s life. Poorly equippedadults, wracked with self-doubt, often find life stressful and depressing. Even psychologically healthy adults musteventually face the realities of aging, and the inevitable decline in physicalstatus. There is little evidence,however, for significant declines in mental states until very advanced old age. In cultures that admire youth, there may wellbe a tendency for the aged to lose their sense of self-efficacy and begin aninexorable decline toward death. But insocieties that promote self-growth throughout life, and who admire elders fortheir wisdom and experience, there is potential for aged individuals tocontinue living productive and self-fulfilling lives (Bandura, 1986, 1997).

Discussion Question: Self-efficacy refers to our beliefs regarding our actual abilities, and self-esteem refers to how we feel about ourselves. What are you good at? Do others agree that you are good at that skill? When you find yourself trying to do something that you are NOT good at, does it disappoint you (i.e., lower your self-esteem)?

Behavior Modification

In Principles ofBehavior Modification (Bandura, 1969), Bandura suggests that behavioralapproaches to psychological change, whether in clinical settings or elsewhere,have a distinct advantage over many of the other theories that have arisen inpsychology. Whereas psychologicaltheories often arise first, become popular as approaches to psychotherapy, butthen fail to withstand proper scientific validation, behavioral approaches havea long history of rigorous laboratory testing.Thus, behavioral techniques are often validated first, and then prove tobe applicable in clinical settings.Indeed, behavioral and cognitive approaches to psychotherapy aretypically well respected amongst psychotherapists (though some might considertheir range somewhat limited).

Bandura made several points regarding the application ofsocial learning theory to behaviorally-oriented psychotherapy. For example, Bandura notes that the labelingof psychological disorders, indeed the definition of what constitutes abnormalbehavior, is made within a social context.While it has been demonstrated that common categories of mental illnessare seen throughout a wide variety of cultures (Murphy, 1976), we still viewthose with psychological disorders based on sociocultural norms and, in thecase of too many observers, with unreasonable prejudice. Bandura also opposed the medical model ofcategorizing and treating psychopathology, believing that the desire toidentify and utilize medications has hindered the advancement of applying appropriatepsychotherapies. The application of anappropriate therapy involves issues of ethical concern and goal-setting. Therapy cannot be successful, according toBandura, if it does not have clear goals characterized in terms of observablebehaviors. Choosing goals means that onemust make value judgments. In makingthese decisions it is important that the client and the therapist share similarvalues (or at least that the therapist work with values appropriate for theirclient), and that the therapist does not try to impose their own values on theclient (Bandura, 1969).

Overall, Bandura presents behavioral approaches topsychotherapy as non-judgmental applications of learning principles toproblematic behavior, behavior that is not to be viewed as psychological“illness:”

…From asocial-learning perspective, behaviors that may be detrimental to theindividual or that depart widely from accepted social and ethical norms areconsidered not as manifestations of an underlying pathology but as ways, whichthe person has learned, of coping with environmental and self-imposed demands.(pg. 62; Bandura, 1969)

Cognitive Aspects of Social Learning Theory: The Contributions of Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel

Julian Rotter deserves at least as much credit as AlbertBandura for the establishment of social learning theory. Indeed, his book Social Learning & Clinical Psychology (Rotter, 1954) waspublished five years before Bandura’s AdolescentAggression (Bandura & Walters, 1959).In addition, Rotter always focused on cognitive aspects of sociallearning, something Bandura gave more consideration to only later in hiscareer. But their careers were by nomeans separated from one another. WalterMischel was Rotter’s graduate student, and later joined the faculty of StanfordUniversity where he was a colleague of Bandura.Mischel and Bandura collaborated on some of Mischel’s best knownresearch: delayed gratification.

Brief Biographies of Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel

JulianRotter was born in 1916 in Brooklyn, NY.The son of successful Jewish immigrants, his childhood was quitecomfortable. During the GreatDepression, however, the family business failed, and for a few years the familystruggled (as many people did). Thistime of struggle instilled in Rotter a profound sense of social justice, aswell as an interest in the effects of situational environments.

As a child Rotter was an avid reader, and eventually heread most of the novels in the local library.He then turned to reading books on psychology, taking a particularinterest in works by Freud and Adler.During his senior year in high school he was interpreting people’sdreams and he wrote a paper based on Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Freud, 1904/1995). He attended Brooklyn College, but chose tomajor in chemistry instead of psychology, as it seemed more likely to provide apromising career. During college,however, he learned that Adler was teaching at the Long Island College ofMedicine. He began attending Adler’sseminars, became Adler’s friend, and was invited to meetings of the Society forIndividual Psychology. Anotherwell-known psychology professor who influenced Rotter was Solomon Asch. When he graduated from Brooklyn College, heactually had more credits in psychology than in chemistry.

Rotter attended the University of Iowa, where he earned aMaster’s Degree in 1938, and then took a clinical internship at the WorcesterState Hospital in Massachusetts. A yearlater he began working on his Ph.D. at Indiana University, because a professorthere, C. M Louttit, had published one of the first books advocating clinicalpsychology as a career. Rotter receivedhis Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1941.After a short period of time at Norwich State Hospital in Connecticut,Rotter was drafted into the Army. Hespent World War II working as a military psychologist. After the war he briefly returned to Norwich,but soon Rotter accepted a position at Ohio State University.

It was during his time at Ohio State University thatRotter developed his ideas on social learning theory. He and George Kelly were the two mostprominent members of the psychology department, each of them having a lastinginfluence in the fields of social and cognitive learning theory. Rotter attracted many excellent graduatestudents, including Walter Mischel.Rotter was also keenly interested in the training of clinicalpsychologists, and he helped to outline the training model that became thebasis for how doctoral level clinical psychologists are trained today.

As much as he enjoyed his time at Ohio State University,Rotter left in 1963 to direct the rebuilding of the clinical psychologytraining program at the University of Connecticut. He retired as professor emeritus in 1987. One year later he received an AmericanPsychological Association’s DistinguishedScientific Contribution Award, and one year after that he was recognized bythe Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology with their Distinguished Contribution to ClinicalTraining Award. He has also workedwith the Peace Corps. Rotter included abrief autobiography in his self-edited compendium entitled The Development and Applications of Social Learning Theory (Rotter,1982).


Walter Mischel was born in 1930, into a comfortable home,where he enjoyed a pleasant childhood.They lived in Vienna, a short distance from Sigmund Freud’s house. However, when the Nazis invaded Austria atthe beginning of World War II, the Mischel family moved to the United States,eventually settling in New York City. Incollege, Mischel studied to become a social worker. While working as a social worker in the LowerEast Side slums, Mischel attended City College of New York and pursued agraduate degree in clinical psychology.He had been taught that Freud’s theory offered the best explanation ofhuman behavior, but he did not find this to be true in his work with juveniledelinquents (the same practical conclusion occurred to Carl Rogers in his firstclinical position).

He then attended Ohio State University, where he was agraduate student of both Julian Rotter and George Kelly. Rotter and Kelly helped to firmly establishMischel as a member of the general social learning/cognitive learning camp, andlater Mischel became a faculty member at Stanford University, alongside AlbertBandura (from 1962-1983). He thenreturned to New York as a faculty member at Columbia University, where hecontinued his work on delayed gratification and the effects of situations on personalbehavior. Mischel has been recognizedwith a Distinguished ScientificContribution Award by the American Psychological Association.

Placing Rotter and Mischel in Context: Cognitive Social Learning Theory

The distinction between Bandura as a social learning theorist, and Rotter and Mischel as cognitive learning theorists, is not entirely accurate. As Bandura’s career progressed, he focused more and more on cognitive factors, and Mischel collaborated with Bandura while both were at Stanford University. What distinguishes Rotter and Mischel is that cognitive factors were always the most important aspect of their learning theories. Although humans are capable of learning simply by watching a model, their expectations regarding the outcome of a situation, and the value the place on the potential reward (or punishment), determines their course of action. According to Mischel, these variables can lead to seemingly inconsistent behavior, but when examined in closer detail individuals demonstrate consistent patterns of variation, a form of consistency in itself.

Rotter and Mischel can also be seen as having encompassed Bandura’s career. Although all three men were active during the same general time frame, Rotter’s first book on social learning theory preceded Bandura’s first book by 5 years. Mischel, a student of Rotter, and then a colleague of Bandura for a while, has continued to modify his most influential theory quite recently, in the 1990s and 2000s.

Rotter and Mischel can also be considered as providing a bridge between the more traditional social learning theory of Bandura and the full-fledged cognitive theory of George Kelly. Kelly was Rotter’s colleague at Ohio State University, and Mischel studied under both men while in graduate school. Thus, social learning theory, cognitive social learning theory, and cognitive theories of personality development all occurred in close relationship to one another, and they all offered a dramatic alternative to radical behaviorism, an alternative that helped to fulfill the vision of John Dollard and Neal Miller.

Basic Constructs in Rotter's Social Learning Theory

Rotter’s early research focused on the need to understandhuman behavior and personality so that clinical psychologists might effectivelyhelp their patients. In the preface to Social Learning & Clinical Psychology,Rotter wrote:

(Video) Julian Rotter's Social Learning Theory

…thepractice of clinical psychology in many instances is unsystematic and confusedwhen viewed from logical or rigorous scientific viewpoints. This confusion, however, is not a necessarycondition but the result of the failure of the clinical psychologists’ trainingprogram to translate and relate the basic knowledge of experimental andtheoretical psychology into the practical situations of the clinic, thehospital, and the school… (pg. viii; Rotter, 1954)

Given his emphasis onclinical psychology, Rotter focused on the clinician’s ability to predictbehavior. According to Rotter, sociallearning theory assumes that the unit of investigation for the study ofpersonality is the interaction between the individual and their meaningfulenvironment. Although personality hasunity, the individual’s experiences influence each other. As a result, personality is continuouslychanging, since each person is always having new experiences. However, personality is also stable in somerespects, since previous experiences influence new learning. Given the complexity of each individual,Rotter believed that in order to make reasonable predictions about behavior itwas necessary to examine four kinds of variables: behaviorpotential, expectancy, reinforcement value, and the psychological situation (Rotter, 1954,1964, 1972; Rotter & Hochreich, 1975).

Behavior potential refers to the likelihood of a certainbehavior occurring in the context of specific potential reinforcement. For example, in order to earn good grades astudent can rely on any number of possible behaviors, such as studying,cheating, skipping class to avoid a bad grade, etc. Each potential behavior can only be describedas more or less likely than other potential behaviors, and included aspotential behaviors are psychological reactions such as thoughts, emotions, andeven defense mechanisms. Expectancy isdefined as the probability held by the individual that reinforcement willfollow one’s chosen behavior. AlthoughRotter preferred to avoid the concept that expectancy is subjective, heacknowledged that an element of subjectivity is involved. Regardless, it is the individual’s point ofview, their expectations in a given situation, that are more important forpredicting behavior than the realistic probability of a chosen behaviorresulting in an expected reinforcement.Reinforcement value, quite simply, refers to the preference for a givenreinforcer. To use Rotter’s own example,most people would consistently choose to be paid $10 dollars an hour ratherthan $1 an hour, if it were simply their choice. Finally, there is the psychologicalsituation. According to Rotter, it isnot enough to say that to each individual a given situation might seemdifferent. In order to address thesituation in more objective terms, psychologists need to identify a variety ofcues within the situation. In anobjective sense, consequently, different people can be described as attendingto different specific cues in the environment (Rotter, 1954, 1972; Rotter &Hochreich, 1975).

Although Rotter broke new ground in this approach to thestudy of social learning theory, he did not entirely abandon the use ofmathematical formulae similar to those of Dollard and Miller. Rotter proposed the following basic formulafor predicting goal-directed behavior:

BPx,S1Ra = /(Ex,RaS1 & RVa,S1)

Although this formula appearscomplicated at first glance, it is relatively straightforward. The potential for behavior x (BPx) to occurin situation 1 with potential reinforcement a (S1Ra) is a function (/) of the expectancy (E) that reinforcement a willfollow behavior x in situation 1 (x,RaS1) and the reinforcement value (RV) ofreinforcement a in situation 1 (a,S1) (Rotter, 1954; Rotter & Hochreich,1975). In other words, we are mostlikely to choose the behavioral option that we realistically expect will resultin the most favorable outcome in our current situation.

Discussion Question: Rotter believed that both the expectancy of reward and the perceived value of that reward were essential in determining whether an individual engaged in a particular behavior. Have you ever found yourself doing something even though you did not expect to get anything for your efforts? Have you ever had a job where you felt that you weren’t being paid what you deserved? In such situations, how long did you continue your behavior, and how did you feel about it?

Locus of Control

One of the most important generalized expectanciesunderlying behavior, and perhaps Rotter’s best known concept, is referred to asinternal versus external control ofreinforcement (commonly known as locusof control):

Peopleare known to differ in their belief that what happens to them is the result oftheir own behaviors and attributes (internal control) versus the result ofluck, fate, chance, or powerful others (external control). Clearly, persons who believe or expect thatthey can control their own destinies will behave differently, in manysituations, than those who expect that their outcomes are controlled by otherpeople or determined by luck. (pg. 105; Rotter & Hochreich, 1975)

Rotter pointed out thatalmost all psychologists recognize the role that reinforcement or reward playsin determining future behavior, but that this is not a “simple stamping-inprocess.” For beings as complex ashumans, the effects of reinforcement depend upon an individual’s perception ofa causal relationship between their behavior and the potential reward (Rotter& Hochreich, 1975).

A number of scales have been developed to measure locusof control (for an early review see Lefcourt, 1976), including one developed byRotter himself (Rotter, 1966). Rotter’sscale, simply referred to as the I-Escale (for internal-external), consists of 29 forced-choicestatements. For example:

1.a. Children get into trouble because theirparents punish them too much.
1.b. The trouble with most children nowadays isthat their parents are too
easy with them.

In each instance, the persontaking the test must choose one or the other option. After taking all 29, the person’s score isthe total number of external choices.Does it seem difficult to determine whether 1.a. or 1.b. is the externalchoice? Good! Question 1 is actually a filler question,designed to interfere with the test taker’s ability to understand what the testis about! So, consider question 2:

2.a. Many of the unhappy things in people’s livesare partly due to
bad luck.
2.b. People’s misfortunes result from the mistakesthey make.

For question 2 it is quiteobvious that choice a is the external choice, and if it wasn’t clear, the testhas choice a marked for you! There are atotal of six filler questions, leaving the test itself with 23 choices (Rotter,1966).

Locus of control appears to arise from two primarysources: the family, and contingency awareness (Lefcourt,1976). The role of the family in thedevelopment of locus of control is complex, and appears to be somewhatdifferent based on the behavior of mothers and fathers. The most reliable finding appears to be thatindividuals with an internal locus of control had mothers who pushed them toachieve independence at an early age.This motherly push, however, must be a careful one. Children need support, guidance andnurturance, but they must not be smothered to the point of being pampered. Lefcourt (1976) cites Adler’s concernregarding two extremes in child-rearing, pampering and neglect, neither ofwhich is conducive to the healthy psychological growth of a child. Contingency awareness refers to anunderstanding of instrumentality, the conception that one’s actions are indeedrelated to certain outcomes. In orderfor a child to repeat a behavior with purpose, the child must be able to recallthat their prior actions resulted in a given outcome, and they must know that theiractions were related to the expected outcomes.It would appear that children as young as two months old are capable ofthis type of social learning, and it tends to result in positive emotionalreactions (Lefcourt, 1976).

Early studies on locus of control also focused on someinteresting cultural questions. It isgenerally accepted that social class and ethnic group are importantdeterminants of personality. Battle andRotter (1963) found that lower class Blacks were significantly more external intheir locus of control than were middle class Whites. Interestingly, middle class Blacks werecloser to middle class Whites than lower class Whites were to middle class Whites,suggesting that social class may have been the primary factor in these results,rather than the race or ethnicity of the subjects. Furthermore, IQ seems to have exacerbatedthese results in that the most external individuals were high IQ lower class Blacks(i.e., individuals aware of social injustice in American society) and the mostinternal individuals were low IQ middle class Whites (who may be blamingthemselves for failing to live up to their expected potential; Battle &Rotter, 1963). During the civil rightsmovement, Gore & Rotter (1963) examined whether locus of control might be auseful measure of social action. Theyfound that students at a southern Black college who expressed interest inattending a civil rights rally or marching on the state capitol scoredsignificantly more internal on the I-E scale.In other words, those who believed they could personally make adifference were more willing to try making that difference. In a study that followed soon after,Strickland (1965) compared Blacks who were indeed active in the civil rightsmovement to those who were not (but who were matched for sex, age, education,etc.). As predicted, the individuals whowere active in the civil rights movement scored significantly more internal onthe I-E scale than those who were not active.Strickland did note, however, that the individuals she studied werepioneers in the civil rights movement, and had become active, in part, becauseothers groups had failed to demonstrate an adequate degree of commitment to thecivil rights movement. Strickland’sconcern seems to contradict earlier results of Mischel (1958a), who found thatwhen individual’s make public commitments, they are less likely to change theirexpectancies (i.e., individuals publicly involved in the civil rights movementshould have remained committed to the cause even when faced with initialfailure). Still, as Mischel himselfnoted, one cannot rely entirely on inferences from research when consideringthe complexities of real-life (and, at the time, dangerous) behavior.

Discussion Question: Do you consider yourself to have an internal or an external locus of control? Do you feel that locus of control is an important influence on personality; might it be good or bad?

Rotter's Emphasis on Clinical Psychology

As noted above, Rotter was actively involved indeveloping the model that provided the basis for how clinical psychologists aretypically trained today. Accordingly,much of Rotter’s career was devoted to clinical applications of his work, Inaddition to writing two books that emphasized clinical psychology (Rotter,1954, 1964) and developing the I-E scale (Rotter, 1966), Rotter and one of hisresearch assistants published The RotterIncomplete Sentences Blank: College Form(Rotter and Rafferty, 1950). The bookwas intended to formalize the sentencecompletion method, particularly for use with college students. The test consists of forty simple statementsthat require the subject to finish the sentence. For example, one beginning is simply “Myfather…” The subjects responses are thenscored in terms of whether they demonstrate conflict (on a scale of 1-3), areneutral, or whether they are positive (also on a scale of 1-3). The manual offers examples of possibleanswers for both males and females. Forexample, conflicted responses for males include breaking promises or being afool (level 3), or never had much of a chance or is proud (level 1). A neutral response might simply be that thefather is a salesman, or is a hard worker.Positive responses for females include that the father is quite acharacter or is a good man (level 1), or that he has a great sense of humor oris a lot of fun (level 3). Interpretingthis test requires a great deal of experience, and an understanding ofpersonality and human nature.Fortunately, Rotter and Rafferty include a number of individual cases asexamples of how the Rotter IncompleteSentences Blank can be used to evaluate individuals. Both the Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blankand the I-E scale have proven useful in evaluating patients, as well as normalindividuals, in a variety of settings and cultures, including Africa, Sri Lanka,American Indians, Brazil, Black and White college students in America,Ukrainian doctors training in Canada, and amongst military personnel (Janzen,Paterson, Reid, & Everall, 1996; Lefcourt, 1976; Logan & Waehler, 2001;Nagelschmidt & Jakob, 1977; Niles, 1981; Picano, Roland, Rollins, &Williams, 2002; Rossier, Dahourou, & McCrae, 2005; Rotter, 1960, 1966;Trimble & Richardson, 1982). In aparticularly interesting study, a unique version of the Sentence CompletionTest was developed by Herbert Phillips and provided the basis for a major studyon the personality of Thai peasants living in the village of Bang Chan,Thailand (Phillips, 1965). The Rotter IncompleteSentences Blank, and other variations of the sentence completion method, remainvery popular today (Holaday, Smith, & Sherry, 2000), ranking with theRorschach Inkblot Test and the Thematic Apperception Test as the most popularprojective tests for personality assessment.

Overall, Rotter emphasized the value of training clinicalpsychologists for just that responsibility, with a particular emphasis on therealities that will face the psychologist in an actual clinical setting(Rotter, 1954, 1964). In 1972, Rotteredited a volume including both original and previously published papers inwhich social learning theory was applied to psychopathology in general (Phares,1972) and to such diverse topics as drinking amongst college students,excessively needy individuals, working with mentally retarded children, andelectroconvulsive shock therapy (Cromwell, 1972; Dies, 1968; Jessor, Carman,& Grossman, 1968; Jessor, Liverant, & Opochinsky, 1963). A particularly important aspect of therapy alsoaddressed in this volume is the issue of terminating therapy. Strickland & Crowne (1963) found thatdefensiveness and avoiding self-criticism are common signs in individuals whoare likely to end therapy abruptly, whereas Piper, Wogan, & Getter (1972) foundthat the patient’s expectancy regarding improvement, and the value they placeon improving, are useful predictors of terminating therapy. Although helping patient’s to achieve a levelof psychological health that allows terminating therapy should be the goal ofevery therapist, premature termination might prove even more detrimental to thepatient. For Rotter, the proper trainingof clinical psychologists is not an easy task.In the preface to ClinicalPsychology, Rotter wrote:

…Yetpsychology itself is a relatively new science and its areas of application arein rapid transition. Neither theory nor“facts” are always agreed upon, and in clinical psychology there is no singleset of orthodox, approved skills for which a person can be certified as atrained practitioner…The goal is to gain comprehension without resorting to anoversimplification of the complex nature of man or of the problem ofunderstanding him. (pg. xi; Rotter, 1964).

Behavioral Specificity and Consistency

In 1968, Walter Mischel challenged both state and traittheories of personality. Psychologicalstates typically fall with the domain of psychodynamic theory, whereas traittheories are a perspective unto themselves.According to Mischel (1968), although state and trait theorists use verydifferent language, they tend to approach personality in the same generalway: they use responses to inferpervasive, underlying mental structures that exert enduring causal effects onbehavior. Thus, both state and traittheorists emphasize consistency in behavior.However, there is a wealth of data that individuals do not actconsistently from situation to situation.Instead, Mischel argues, behavior can best be predicted only when onetakes into account the specific situation in which the behavior occurs:

Progress in the area of personalitypsychology and assessment has been hindered by the failure to apply relevantprinciples about the conditions that produce, maintain, and modify socialbehavior. The principles that emergefrom basic research too often have not been seen as directly relevant to theunderstanding of the determinants of test responses in the clinic or theassessment project. It is as if we livein two independent worlds: Theabstractions and artificial situations of the laboratory and the realities oflife. (pg. 1; Mischel, 1968).

In order to support his argument, Mischel examined whichaspects of behavior are or are not consistent.Generally, intellect is consistent, including academic ability,achievement, and cognitive style. Incontrast, there is little evidence to support consistency of behavior acrosssituations when examining personality variables such as attitudes, moralbehavior, sexual identification, dependency, aggression, tolerance,conditionability, etc. (Mischel, 1968).How, then, might we predict behavior?Mischel suggests a dynamic perspective on how persons interact withtheir situations. If the environment hasnot changed much, we can expect past behavior to be a reasonable predictor ofcurrent behavior (and state and trait theories would seem to hold true aswell). However, if the environmentchanges dramatically, the individual may act in unpredictable ways. In addition, the individual may begin tolearn new social conditions, thus allowing for considerable change in behaviorover time:

Global traits and states areexcessively crude, gross units to encompass adequately the extraordinarycomplexity and subtlety of the discriminations that people constantlymake. Traditional trait-state conceptionsof man have depicted him as victimized by his infantile history, as possessedby unchanging rigid trait attributes, and as driven inexorably by unconsciousirrational forces…A more adequate conceptualization must take full account ofman’s extraordinary adaptiveness and capacities for discrimination, awareness,and self-regulation…and that an understanding of how humans can constructivelymodify their behavior in systematic ways is the core of a truly dynamicpersonality psychology. (pg. 301; Mischel, 1968)

(Video) Walter Mischel clarifies his theory of personality

Delayed Gratification

Perhaps Mischel’s most famous contribution to psychologyis his research on delayed gratification. In a series of studies, begun in the late1950s, Mischel examined the conditions under which children choose immediategratification or whether they can delay gratification in order to obtain alarger reinforcer at a later time. Theability to delay gratification, according to Mischel, is essential for thedevelopment of self-control. From earlychildhood throughout the lifespan, achieving long-term goals often requiressetting aside tempting distractions.Conversely, many personal and social problems result from failures ofself-control, such as dropping out of school, poor job performance, and evenviolent and criminal behavior (Mischel & Mischel, 1980). In an amazing longitudinal study, Mischel andhis colleagues offered 4 year-old children the opportunity to grab amarshmallow. But, if the child couldwait until the researcher ran an errand, the child could then have twomarshmallows! Some children grabbed themarshmallow as soon as the experimenter left, but others were able to wait15-20 minutes. It was not easy, however. The children who waited demonstrated avariety of behaviors to distract themselves from the marshmallow: they would play, sing, cover their eyes sothey didn’t have to look at the marshmallow, etc. The most striking results from this studywere actually obtained years later.Mischel and his colleagues tracked down the former 4 year-old subjects asthey were graduating from high school.The individuals who had delayed gratification as 4 year-olds weresignificantly more personally effective and self-assertive, and they werebetter able to cope with life’s frustrations (Mischel, Shoda, & Rodriguez,1989; Shoda, Mischel, & Peake, 1990).In addition, the 4 year-old children who had been able to delaygratification were more successful as students in a variety of ways, includingeventually earning significantly higher SAT scores (210 points higher, on thecombined score), and the ability to delay gratification proved to be a betterpredictor of SAT scores than IQ (Peake, cited in Goleman, 1994).

Although the famous marshmallow-grabbing study wasconducted at a preschool on the campus of Stanford University, Mischel beganthis research with very different groups:Black and East Indian children on the islands of Trinidad and Grenada(Mischel, 1958b, 1961). On theserelatively poor, Caribbean islands, Mischel not only compared the Black andEast Indian children, he also compared the children of Trinidad to the childrenof Grenada. The main purpose of thesecond study, however, was to examine the effect of fathers being absent fromthe home on the preference of children for immediate or delayed gratification. Overall, when fathers are absent from thehome, both young boys and young girls (ages 8 to 9 years old) demonstrated apreference for immediate gratification.Mischel suggests that the inability to delay gratification amongstchildren who lack a father may be related to immaturity or poor psychologicaladjustment (Mischel, 1961).

While Mischel was at Stanford University, he alsocollaborated with Bandura. Blending theinterests of both men, they examined whether observing models would affectchildren’s choices regarding immediate vs. delayed gratification. They identified two groups of children (bothboys and girls) as preferring either immediate gratification (a small candy barnow) or delayed gratification (a larger candy bar later). The children were then exposed to either alive model choosing the alternative strategy, a symbolic model (a descriptionof an adult choosing the alternative), or no model. As expected, exposure to a model choosing thealternative strategy dramatically affected the behavior of the children, and alive model was more effective than the symbolic model. The effects of this modeling appeared to bequite persistent (Bandura & Mischel, 1965).Considering the importance that modeling can play in developing theability to delay gratification, it is perhaps easy to see why children infamilies lacking a complete and stable family structure don’t developself-control as well as other children.

Discussion Question: Mischel’s most famous contribution is the concept of delayed gratification. How good are you at waiting for gratification? Are some rewards easier to wait for than others? If you know anyone who is significantly different than you, either wanting immediate gratification or being able to delay it without much trouble, does the difference between you create any problems or interesting situations?

The Cognitive-Affective Processing System (CAPS)

More recently, Mischel has turned his attention tosolving what has been called the “personalityparadox:” How do we reconcile ourintuition and theories that personality is relatively stable with theoverwhelming evidence that personality varies across different situations? Mischel proposes a dynamic personality systemthat takes into account both: (1) thebehavioral consistency that accounts for specific scores on trait tests andindicates what the individual is like in general; and (2) the consistency inhow an individual varies across different situations. This consistency of variation is recognizedby distinct patterns of if…then…relationships, which are characteristic of the individual’s overall personality(Mischel, 2004).

In 1995, Mischel and Shoda first presented this dynamicapproach to understanding personality, referring to it then as the cognitive-affectivepersonality system, but now preferring the term cognitive-affective processing system (CAPS; Mischel, 2004; Mischel& Shoda, 1995/2000; Shoda, Leetiernan, & Mischel, 2002). Over a number of years, Mischel, hisstudents, and his colleagues studied children extensively in a residentialsummer camp. They observed bothbehaviors and the situations in which they occurred. Over time, they were able to identifypatterns of if…then…situation-behavior relations that reflected distinctive and stable characteristicsof each child’s behavior organization.These observations, therefore, gave rise to situation-behavior profiles for each child. It is essential to recognize, however, thatthe term “situation” in these studies does not refer to simple environmentalstimuli, as they might for a behaviorist such as B. F. Skinner. Instead, these situations activate a wholeset of internal reactions, including cognitive and emotional elements. They are also not limited to the external world;they can be generated in thought, fantasy, planning, etc. Accordingly, Mischel and Shoda referred tothese personality variables as cognitive-affectiveunits (or CAUs). These CAUs includeencodings, expectancies and beliefs, affects, goals and values, andcompetencies and self-regulatory plans.

Mischel and Shoda (1995/2000) did not neglect theindividual’s development in this theory.Our ability to recognize distinct aspects of the environment areinfluenced by genetic/biological factors, cultural factors, and the interactionsbetween them. Thesegenetic/biological/cultural factors also influence the CAPS, as does our sociallearning history. In a sense, bringingall of these factors together begins to move us beyond the person-situationdebate, since both sides of the debate are correct in the proper context. The future of personality theory may lie inan as yet undetermined synthesis of these perspectives (Fleeson, 2004). For now, according to Mischel, this dynamicapproach to understanding personality has at least helped to bring together themajor aspects of different schools of personality theory:

The two goals - dispositions anddynamics - that have so long been pursued separately do not require two fieldsfrom this perspective. In this theory,dispositions are conceptualized not in semantic terms but as processingstructures characterized by stable cognitive affective organizations in theprocessing system that becomes activated when the individual encountersrelevant situational features. (pg. 170; Mischel & Shoda, 1995/2000)

The Impact of Social Learning Theory

It would be difficult to overestimate the impact ofsocial learning theory on psychology, because the human species is soinherently social. Social life seems tocome automatically, mediated via mental processes that are largely unconscious(Bargh & Williams, 2006), and our social norms appear to arise from socialbehavior that is adaptive within local ecologies (Kameda, Takezawa, &Hastie, 2005). It is important to note,however, that social organization is by no means unique to the humanspecies. There are many animal speciesthat live in social groups, some demonstrating a surprising degree ofintelligence, suggesting that social living itself may have helped to fosterthe development of intelligence (Pennisi, 2006). Further evidence for the impact of sociallearning theory on psychology can be found in the simple name recognitionenjoyed by Bandura, certainly one of the most famous psychologists.

There are also interesting lines of research within thefield of neuroscience that provide support for Mischel and Shoda’scognitive-affective processing system.Utilizing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Decety &Jackson (2006) have found that empathy appears to involve activation of the samebrain regions involved in experiencing the situation about which one is feelingempathy toward another person. Forexample, there is significant activation of brain regions involved in pain whenan individual views pictures of someone else in a clearly painfulsituation. This would seem to provideneurobiological evidence in support of Mischel and Shoda’s cognitive-affectiveunits, the functional components of the cognitive-affective processing system. Similarly, Knoblich & Sebanz (2006) havedemonstrated that perceptual, cognitive, and motor processes are enhanced bysocial interaction, and that such interactions can be measured usingevent-related potentials that measure brain electrical activity. Some of the data presented in the study byKnoblich & Sebanz are essentially situation-behavior profiles for theindividuals in their study.

Finally, let’s address the role of expectancy in one ofthe most challenging social issues facing the world today: diversity.We hear more and more about the value of diversity in higher educationand in the workplace, but pursuing diversity is often challenged byprejudice. Expectations of prejudiceenhance attention to social cues that threaten one’s social identity. In other words, when individuals expect thatengaging in diversity will lead to prejudice, and perhaps then todiscriminatory behavior, they are more likely to notice evidence of that veryoutcome (Kaiser, Vick, & Major, 2006).In addition, contact between diverse groups does less to displacefeelings of prejudice among members of minority groups than it does amongmembers of the majority group (likely due to the minority group members’recognition of the ongoing effects of prejudice and discrimination; Tropp &Pettigrew, 2005). These represent difficultsituation-behavior circumstances, since it can obviously be very difficult forteam members to predict the behavioral responses likely to follow theartificial establishment of diversity.In making recommendations to the leaders of organizational teams, Mannix& Neale (2005) suggest clearly defining the team’s tasks and goals,providing bridges across diversity, and enhancing the influence of theminority. Perhaps most importantly,there is a need to provide incentives for change. Taken together, these approaches bothincrease the expectancy of success and raise the reinforcement value of workingtoward successfully diversifying the team.As such, principles that have arisen from social learning theory canclearly play a positive role is reshaping society.

The Future of Psychology: Bandura's Vision as Compared to Freud

In Toward aPsychology of Human Agency, Bandura (2006) agrees with Freud that religionplayed a significant role in the advancement of civilization, and that thescientific revolution that began with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution shifted ourfocus toward natural and scientific approaches to understanding and improvinghuman life. However, evolutionemphasizes random effects on genetically determined structures and traits, anddoes not allow for the choices made by individuals, though sociobiologists arguethat genetics can exert influences on those choices. Rather than relying on psychoanalysis inorder to understand the impulses of the id that drive us to survive, as Freudproposed (1927/1961, 1930/1961), Bandura believes that people are agents ofchange in their own lives, and that they can choose the direction that changetakes.

Being an agent involves intentionally influencing one’sfunctioning and life circumstances, and there are four core properties of humanagency. Intentionality refers to our ability to form action plans and thestrategies necessary for accomplishing them.Forethought is the temporalextension of agency, in which we set goals for ourselves and anticipate likelyoutcomes of our actions to both guide and motivate our behavior. Once having chosen a course of action, ofcourse, we do not simply sit back and wait for the right things to happen. Agency also involves both self-reactiveness and self-reflectiveness, processes in whichwe regulate our behavior, monitor our courses of action, and examine whether weare capable of being successful in our various endeavors (Bandura, 2006). As much as human agency involves our ownthoughts, goals, motivation, and expectations, however, we do not existautonomously. All human behavior occurswithin social structures, and there is a reciprocal interplay between personal,behavioral, and environmental determinants (reciprocal determinism). This means that human agency, the exercise ofself-influence, is part of the causal structure of our lives. As Bandura points out, this is not “freewill,” which would be a throwback to medieval theology, but rather a matter ofacting as an agent, the role of an individual in making causal contributions tothe course of events in their life (Bandura, 2006).

…Socialcognitive theory rejects a duality of human agency and a disembodied socialstructure. Social systems are theproduct of human activity, and social systems, in turn, help to organize,guide, and regulate human affairs.However, in the dynamic interplay within the societal rule structures,there is considerable personal variation in the interpretation of, adoption of,enforcement of, circumvention of, and opposition to societal prescriptions andsanctions…freedom is conceived not just passively as the absence ofconstraints, but also proactively as the exercise of self-influence… (pg. 165;Bandura, 2006)

Personality Theory in Real Life: Media Violence
and Its Effects on Children

The second Bobo doll study conducted by Bandura and his colleagues presented videotapes of the models behaving aggressively toward the Bobo doll (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963a). The observation in this study that children did, indeed, imitate the aggressive behavior of models seen on film, but not in person, has become one the most influential articles in history, both in terms of stimulating further research on the modeling of aggression and in terms of practical applications (e.g., ratings on television programs, video games, and CDs with controversial lyrics). In their introduction to an issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest (PSPI) on media violence and its effects on children, Ceci and Bjork (2003) describe how the authors of this particular PSPI issue were a collection of experts brought together to prepare a portion of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on youth violence. However, political concerns led the Surgeon General’s office to radically alter the report. The authors protested, and attempted to satisfy the concerns of the politicians. Ultimately, however, this portion of the report was dropped from the final version. So, the editors of PSPI chose to publish this valuable psychological information, which clearly causes political concerns for some, so that psychologists, psychiatrists, law enforcement officials, teachers and school administrators, government policy makers, parents, indeed anyone who has a vested interest in youth violence, might have the most current information available on the effects of media violence on America’s youth. I would also like to acknowledge an important point made by the authors themselves. This issue of PSPI was a collaborative project by eight experts on the effects of media violence. The authors decided that the fairest way to list their names was alphabetical order. Thus, as I refer to the article as Anderson, et al. (2003), please note that the “et al.” includes widely respected experts, chosen by the National Institute of Mental Health for this project, each of whom contributed significantly to this article.

It would be difficult to do justice to this report by summarizing it here, since the report, which is a review itself, is nearly thirty pages long and cites 245 research studies. Clearly, the attention drawn by this question, the role of media violence in affecting violent behavior among children, provides a testament to the significance of this research. Anderson, et al. (2003) provide an overview of the empirical research, offer theoretical explanations, they address moderating effects, media use and content, and they examine research on interventions.

Empirical research on media violence and aggression has covered of wide variety of media types, including dramatic television and movies, television news violence, music videos and their lyrics, video games, and the internet. The review of this extensive body of research has shown a statistically significant association between exposure to media violence and aggression and violence among youth. Exposure to media violence, and the findings are consistent across the various types of media, increases the likelihood that children have aggressive thoughts and, indeed, engage in aggressive behavior. Most importantly, longitudinal studies have consistently shown that exposure to media violence in childhood, even beginning in late adolescence, are predictors of increased aggression and violent behavior in adulthood. Although the effects are at best small to medium, the authors note that they are as high as other problems that are considered significant public health issues, such as cigarette smoking and exposure to asbestos.

Several theories have been put forth to explain the manner in which exposure to media violence increases aggression in children, not the least of which is Bandura’s theory of observational learning. Observational learning appears to be so important to the humans, and other primate species, that we have developed a specific neurological system to learn from watching others: the mirror-neuron system (see Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004). Additional theories suggest that exposure to media violence prepares an individual to engage in aggressive behavior. This can occur either because the media violence primes the individual by activating aggressive thoughts and scripts or by generally arousing the individual, and that arousal then carries over into heightened aggressive behavior in situations that provoke aggressive actions. Finally, there is the widely used, and often misunderstood, term “desensitization.” Anderson et al. (2003) prefer the term emotional desensitization to refer to a reduction in distress-related reactions to observing or thinking about violence. Although emotional desensitization may result in an individual being more willing to engage in aggressive or violent behavior, there is no evidence that it stimulates aggression. Thus, although emotional desensitization may be related to the disinhibition discussed in the chapter (it may even be the same thing), its role remains unclear.

Not all children are affected by media violence in the same way, and not all examples of media violence are equally effective in enhancing aggression. Thus, there must be moderating factors that come into play in the relationship between exposure to media violence and subsequent aggressive behavior. For example, the effects of media violence decline as children grow older, media violence is less likely to affect children who are less aggressive to begin with, and, although there is not a direct effect of intelligence, children of lower intelligence are more likely to watch television and to be at risk for other factors enhancing aggressiveness. The way in which the violence is presented in the media is also important, as is any portrayed justification for the violence as well as its consequences. However, all of these relationships are complex, and have not been studied in great detail. Thus, there is much more work to be done. Finally, one of the most important moderating factors is parental control. When parents discuss the content of media violence with their children, when they comment regularly on the reality of violence, children are much less likely to demonstrate aggressive tendencies.

This entire discussion would be moot, if not for the prevalence of media in our society and the content of that media. Data reported by Anderson, et al. (2003) from three national surveys provide an amazing view of media availability in America. Virtually all families with children have a television set, most have at least one VCR or DVD player, and about three quarters of those families subscribe to cable or satellite television. Approximately 70 percent of families with children have a video game system and a computer, and most American children have a television in their room (including 30 percent of children age 0 to 3 years old!). Watching television is the third most common activity for children, after sleeping and going to school. A significant number of children watch more than 40 hours of television a week, and children ages 0 to 6 years spend more time engaged in media entertainment than engaged in reading, being read to, and playing outside combined! And what’s included in that media content? Plenty of violence: 61 percent of programs contain violence, and only 4 percent of programs contain an anti-violence theme:

…put in another way, 96% of all violent television programs use aggression as a narrative, cinematic device for simply entertaining the audience…Moreover, most aggression on television is glamorized and trivialized…and nearly 75% of all violent scenes feature no immediate punishment or condemnation for violence. (pg. 101; Anderson, et al., 2003)

Similar findings have been reported for violence in video games, both in America and in Japan. Parents seldom recognize the popularity of those violent games, and only about one third of parents even knew the name of their child’s favorite video game (Anderson, et al., 2003)

Despite the wealth of information on the relationship between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior, and a number of potential approaches for intervention, there has been little empirical research on potential interventions. In general, there are three approaches to reducing the influence of violent media: changing attitudes to counter violent messages, encouraging parental monitoring and guidance, and providing education on the content and effects of various forms of media. But once again, none of these potential interventions has been studied in detail. It must also be remembered that this is only one of many factors that contribute to aggressive and violent behavior amongst youth, though it may be the least expensive to address, since it involves little more than making choices about the media children are exposed to:

…However, the troubling truth is that violent media are entering the home and inviting active participation of even very young children - often with little parental supervision…Although additional research to address unresolved questions is needed, it is clear that media violence is a causal risk factor that should be addressed in thoughtful ways…parents can reduce and shape their children’s consumption of violent media…from a public-health perspective, today’s consumption patterns are far from optimal. And for many youths, they are clearly harmful. (pgs. 105-106; Anderson, et al., 2003)

(Video) PSYCH Lecture | ROTTER & MISCHEL | Cognitive Social Learning Theory | Theories of Personality

Research on this important issue certainly did not end with the publication of the PSPI issue in 2003. In a more recent study, Carnagey and Anderson (2005) had college students play one of three versions of a race-car video game: one version rewarded all violence, one punished all violence, and one was non-violent. Overall, rewarding violent actions in the game increased hostile emotion, aggressive thinking, and aggressive behavior. In contrast, punishing violence still increased hostile emotion, but did not increase aggressive thoughts or behaviors. The authors suggest that an important mechanism through which violent media increases aggressive behavior is to first increase aggressive thoughts and states of mind. Another interesting result in this study was that the non-violent game did not result in as much violence as the game in which violence was rewarded, suggesting that the violent behavior in the game was not simply the result of competitiveness by the players. Of course, not everyone responds aggressively when aggression is modeled. It appears that individuals who score high on the trait of agreeableness (one of the “Big Five” traits, see Chapter 13) are able to short-circuit the effects of aggression-related cues and curb their aggression (Meier, Robinson, & Wilkowski, 2006). Meier, et al. go on to suggest that teaching other people to associate aggression-related cues with prosocial behavior might become a valuable intervention in continued efforts to reduce aggression and violence in our society. First, however, it might prove important to reduce the number of weapons present in American society (or at least our relationship with them). Klinesmith, Kasser, and McAndrew (2006) recently demonstrated that when male college students were exposed to a gun there was an increase in both their testosterone levels and their aggressive behavior. Media violence is clearly not the only aggression-related cue present for most people. However, as noted above, it may well be one area in which a distinct reduction in such cues can easily be accomplished without substantial financial costs (but certainly with substantial benefits) to society.

Review of Key Points

  • Reciprocal determinism refers to the concept that behavior, personal factors, and environmental factors are equal, interlocking determinants of each other.
  • Observational learning is a specific type of social learning in which observers view the behavior of models.
  • Highly aggressive children appear to learn this behavior at home, having experienced their parents modeling aggressive behavior.
  • When models are rewarded for aggressive behavior, the result can be the disinhibition of aggression that had previously been restrained.
  • Social learning is different than either simple imitation or identification, in that social learning implies underlying psychological processes (cognition).
  • In order for social learning to occur, conditions must be met that support the components of this process: attention, retention, production, and motivation.
  • Since observers do not copy behavior perfectly, and since they may choose to mix and match the behavior of different models, observational learning can lead to new and different behaviors.
  • Self-regulation refers to the processes of self-reinforcement and self-punishment. Self-reinforcement works primarily through its motivational effects.
  • Self-efficacy is the belief in one’s capabilities to perform specific behaviors in order to accomplish specific outcomes.
  • Self-efficacy and self-esteem are separate concepts. An individual may lack a certain ability and be well aware of it, but if one’s concept of self-worth is not tied to that skill, there will be no corresponding loss of self-esteem.
  • Bandura referred to the ability to act as an agent of change in one’s environment as personal agency.
  • Bandura believed that behavioral approaches have an advantage over other methods of therapy because of their basis in rigorous, scientific testing.
  • Behavioral therapies can only be successful if they focus on goals characterized by clear and observable behaviors.
  • Rotter proposed that one must understand four kinds of variables in order to make reasonable predictions about behavior: behavior potential, expectancy, reinforcement value, and the psychological situation.
  • Internal versus external control of reinforcement (aka, locus of control) may be the most important generalized expectancy underlying behavior, according to Rotter.
  • Rotter developed the I-E scale in order to measure locus of control.
  • A key element in locus of control is contingency awareness, the knowledge that one’s behavior is capable of producing specific outcomes.
  • Rotter also developed the Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank, specifically designed to measure the personality and psychological adjustment of college students.
  • Delayed gratification refers to the concept of working (or restraining oneself) at the present time for a reward that will be granted only at a later time.
  • Working together, Mischel and Bandura showed that modeling can alter the preference of children for delayed or immediate gratification.
  • Mischel addressed what is known as the personality paradox, the appearance that behavior is inconsistent, while our intuition suggests that behavior is consistent.
  • Mischel and Shoda proposed the Cognitive-Affective Processing System (CAPS) in order to address the personality paradox. By developing situation-behavior profiles, it is possible to identify patterns in the apparent inconsistency of individual behavior.
  • fMRI studies have demonstrated specific brain activity that appears to correspond to the cognitive-affective units that underlie the CAPS.
  • Situation-behavior characteristics have helped to address some of the problems that arise in situations in which diverse groups do not come together easily.


What is Bandura's theory of personality? ›

Social learning theory, proposed by Albert Bandura, emphasizes the importance of observing, modelling, and imitating the behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Social learning theory considers how both environmental and cognitive factors interact to influence human learning and behavior.

What is Walter Mischel theory of personality? ›

Somehow similar to Bandura's proposal, Walter Mischel's Theory of Personality states that an individual's behavior is influenced by two things- the specific attributes of a given situation and the manner in which he perceives the situation.

What is Rotter's theory of personality? ›

Rotter describes personality as a relatively stable set of potentials for responding to situations in a particular way. Rotter sees personality, and therefore behavior, as always changeable. Change the way the person thinks, or change the environment the person is responding to, and behavior will change.

What are the main differences in the theory of personality proposed by Julian Rotter and Albert Bandura? ›

Bandura took a broad theoretical perspective on social learning, whereas Rotter and Mischel focused more closely on specific cognitive aspects of social learning and behavior. It is also important to point out an artificial distinction that is difficult to avoid in the chapters of this section.

What are the 4 theories of personality? ›

Psychoanalytic, humanistic, trait perspective and behaviorist theory are the four main personality theories.

What are the 3 concepts of Bandura's social learning theory? ›

Bandura asserts that most human behavior is learned through observation, imitation, and modeling.

What is Rotter's social learning theory? ›

Rotter's social learning theory emphasizes the role of expectancies in determining behavior. According to Rotter (1954), behavior “is determined not only by the nature or importance of goals or reinforcements, but also by the person's anticipation or expectancy that these goals will occur.

What is Walter Mischel best known for? ›

Walter Mischel, a revolutionary psychologist with a specialty in personality theory, died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 12. He was 88. Mischel was most famous for the marshmallow test, an experiment that became a pop culture touchstone.

Is Walter Mischel a social-cognitive theorist? ›

Numerous psychologists, such as Julian Rotter and the American personality psychologist Walter Mischel have proposed different social-cognitive perspectives. Albert Bandura (1989) introduced the most prominent perspective on social cognitive theory.

What was Julian Rotter known for? ›

Julian Rotter (born 22 October 1916) is an American psychologist who is known for developing influential theories, including social learning theory and locus of control. After earning his doctorate from Indiana University, Rotter became an adviser to the United States Army during World War II.

What is motivation by Rotter? ›

The law of effect states that people are motivated to seek out positive stimulation, or reinforcement, and to avoid unpleasant stimulation. Rotter combined behaviorism and the study of personality, without relying on physiological instincts or drives as a motive force.

What is behavior potential in Rotter? ›

Rotter combines these components into the formula BP = f(E*RV), such that behavior potential is a function of the individual's expectancy and reinforcement value. Taking each component in turn, behavior potential represents the overall likelihood that an individual will engage in a specific behavior within a situation.

How are the theories of Mischel and Rotter related? ›

Both Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel believe that cognitive factors, more than immediate reinforcements, determine how people will react to environmental forces. Both theorists suggest that our expectations of future events are major determinants of performance.

How do you think Rotter's concept of locus of control is related to Bandura's concept of self-efficacy? ›

Albert Bandura presented his definition of self efficiency that stated that self efficiency is the belief of a person to succeed in certain conditions. Whereas, Julian Rotter presented his theory of locus of control which stated that it is the man's ability to think about the degree of control he/she has.

What is the difference between Social Cognitive Theory and social learning theory? ›

Social cognitive theory has a broader theoretical scope as it includes a conceptualization of humans as agents capable of shaping their environment and of self-regulation. Social learning theory on the other hand is limited to tackling the learning process in the social context.

What are the 3 main theories of personality? ›

While there are many personality theories available to discuss, the following lesson provides information on the three main theories: psychodynamic, humanistic, and behaviorist. Let's take a closer look at each of these and go over an example describing each theory in practice.

What are the 7 Theories of Personality? ›

The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, evolutionary, and social learning perspective.

What is the personality theory? ›

The trait theory of personality was developed by Raymond Cattell, who argued that a person's personality is a series of traits that are stable over time. The approach narrows down a person's personality to five core traits: openness, agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, and conscientiousness.

What are the 4 stages of social learning theory? ›

These four concrete stages of social learning within social learning theory include attention, retention and memory, initiation and motor behavior, and motivation.

Why is Bandura's theory important? ›

Bandura's Social Learning Theory examines how behaviour is imitated by others, especially children. The importance of Social Learning Theory can unveil new methods of teaching. This can be looking at how children copy behaviour, identification, and implementing this learning-by-doing strategy.

What are 5 principles of social learning theory? ›

– Albert Bandura As the creator of the concept of social learning theory, Bandura proposes five essential steps in order for the learning to take place: observation, attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What is social learning theory and examples? ›

Social learning theory examples in everyday life are common, with one of the most evident being the behaviors of children, as they imitate family members, friends, famous figures and even television characters. If a child perceives there is a meaningful reward for such behavior, they will perform it at some point.

What is Rotter's locus of control? ›

Rotter (1966) defines locus of control as the degree to which a person perceives an outcome as being contingent on their own actions or those of external forces, existing along a continuum from a more internalized orientation to a more externalized orientation.

Which test Rotter did develop? ›

The test. The Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank is a projective psychological test developed by Julian Rotter and Janet E. Rafferty in 1950.

What did Walter Mischel contribution to psychology? ›

He is widely known for the marshmallow test — the name tied to the experiments he designed in the 1960s to measure young children's willpower in the face of temptation. Those experiments led to a larger course of study on the links between childhood self-control and later achievement and well-being.

What was Walter Mischel's critique of personality? ›

Mischel argued that in his literature review of personality research, the correlation between personality and behavior, or behavior across situations, rarely exceeded . 30-. 40. Because the correlations are close to zero, Mischel concluded that personality traits have little to no relationship to shaping behavior.

Who proposed the cognitive theory of personality? ›

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) started as the Social Learning Theory (SLT) in the 1960s by Albert Bandura. It developed into the SCT in 1986 and posits that learning occurs in a social context with a dynamic and reciprocal interaction of the person, environment, and behavior.

What are the main points of Social Cognitive Theory? ›

In social cognitive theory (SCT; Bandura, 1982), behavior is held to be determined by four factors: goals, outcome expectancies, self-efficacy, and sociostructural variables.

What is the main idea of Social Cognitive Theory? ›

Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) describes the influence of individual experiences, the actions of others, and environmental factors on individual health behaviors.

Why is Bandura's theory important? ›

Bandura's Social Learning Theory examines how behaviour is imitated by others, especially children. The importance of Social Learning Theory can unveil new methods of teaching. This can be looking at how children copy behaviour, identification, and implementing this learning-by-doing strategy.

What is the purpose of Bandura social learning theory? ›

Albert Bandura's social learning theory suggests that observation and modeling play a primary role in how and why people learn. Bandura's theory goes beyond the perception of learning being the result of direct experience with the environment.

What is theory of personality? ›

Allport's theory of personality emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual and the internal cognitive and motivational processes that influence behavior. For example, intelligence, temperament, habits, skills, attitudes, and traits.

What is the theories of personality? ›

The Six Different Theories About Personality

In describing personality, we'll go through six different personality theories: psychoanalytic theory, humanistic theory, trait theory, social-cognitive theory, biological theory, and behaviorist theory.

What are the four steps of Bandura's social learning theory? ›

The four steps in the Social Learning Theory of Bandura are attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

What is the main idea of the social learning theory? ›

Social learning theory proposes that individuals learn by observing the behaviors of others (models). They then evaluate the effect of those behaviors by observing the positive and negative consequences that follow.

When was Bandura's social learning theory? ›

History of Social Learning Theory

Supported by his findings in the Bobo doll experiments, Bandura developed the social learning theory in 1977.

What are the benefits of social learning theory? ›

Some benefits of social learning include: Increased engagement across disengaged learners. Students developing self organisation skills. Encouraged collaboration.

How do you reference the Bandura social learning theory? ›

Bandura, A. J., Wright, R., Tanner, A. B., Right, F., & Dane, M. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Why is social learning theory important in social work? ›

The foundation of social learning theory posits that people learn by observing. This new knowledge could include both positive and negative behaviors. For social work practitioners, this theory can apply to behavioral issues or conflict. Social learning theory can be used to both learn and unlearn certain behaviors.

What are the 3 main theories of personality? ›

While there are many personality theories available to discuss, the following lesson provides information on the three main theories: psychodynamic, humanistic, and behaviorist. Let's take a closer look at each of these and go over an example describing each theory in practice.

What are the 7 Theories of Personality? ›

The major theories include dispositional (trait) perspective, psychodynamic, humanistic, biological, behaviorist, evolutionary, and social learning perspective.

Who created the personality theory? ›

One of the most important psychological approaches to understanding personality is based on the theorizing of the Austrian physician and psychologist Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), who founded what today is known as the psychodynamic approach to understanding personality.

What is the best personality theory? ›

Some of the best-known trait theories include Eysenck's three-dimension theory and the five-factor theory of personality. Eysenck believed that these dimensions then combine in different ways to form an individual's unique personality.

Why is personality theory important? ›

Theories of personality play a crucial role in providing an understanding on the existing human behavior and interactions. Psychological understanding plays a vital role in influencing how an individual has a given behavior.

What are the five theories of personality development? ›

These five primary personality traits are extraversion (also often spelled extroversion), agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism.


1. Cognitive Social Learning Theory by Julian Rotter and Walter Mischel (Theories of Personality)
(Kael Luzon)
2. Theory of Personality: Walter Mischel & Albert Bandura
(Salwa Mohd Sabri)
(Rose Mandia)
5. PART 1 Rotter & Mischel
6. Julian Rotter (Grom)
(David Washburn)

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