Cognitive and Social Learning Approaches to Personality

Cognitive and Social Learning Approaches to Personality

Cognitive and Social Learning Approaches to Personality Cognition A general term referring to awareness and thinking Basic focus of cognitive approach to person is differences in how people think. Approach grew rapidly

in 1970s-80s. Information Processing: the transformation of sensory input into mental representations and manipulations of such representations Three Levels of Analysis in the Cognitive Approach Perception Field Dependence/Independence (Witkin)

Reducer/Augmenter Theory of Pain Tolerance (Petrie) Interpretation Personal Construct Theory (Kelly) Locus of Control (Rotter) Learned Helplessness (Seligman) Conscious Goals

Personal Projects Analysis (Little) Theory of Mastery Orientation (Dweck) Theory of Regulatory Focus (Higgins) Cognitive-Affective Personality SystemCAPS (Mischel) Field Dependence Have a hard time seeing the trees for the forest; interested in the big picture, not the details Known as global learners Attentive to social cues; people-oriented Tend to get along well with others

Tend to major in social sciences & education Field Independence Cant see the forest for the trees; focused on details Known as analytical learners Function more independently More detached from others Prefer natural science, math, engineering as majors More creative

Research findings Field independent people learn 2nd languages better Better able to interpret facial expressions in complex photographs Do better with web-based sensory overload tasks Perform better in high-stress, ambiguous situations (police

officers) More easily find patterns and make generalizations Field dependent people Better social skills More interested in content, not grammar Have a harder time ignoring distracting information How Field Independence/Dependence is Assessed

Witkin first used the Rod and Frame Test in which Ss had to sit in a dark room and adjust a rod until it was perpendicular to a frame Easier method today is the Embedded Figures Test (EFT), which can be adapted for children and for group settings. EFT is often used in education. Reducer/Augmenter Theory Petrieinduced pain in Ss to see how much they could tolerate. Theorized that people who could tolerate pain well had a

nervous system that dampened/reduced the effects of sensory stimulation. Seems to be related to extraversion and sensation-seeking. Low pain tolerance people augment or amplify the perception of sensory information. Theory came to be known as Reducer/Augmenter Theory. Findings regarding Reducer/Augmenter Theory Reducers drink more coffee, smoke more, and have a lower

threshold for boredom than augmenters do. Reducers start smoking at an earlier age, have episodes of minor delinquency in adolescence, use more psychoactive drugs, and listen to louder music. They may use substances to artificially lift their arousal. Augmenters Show larger brain responses

to flashes of light and bursts of noise than reducers do. Show a steeper rate of change with increasing stimulus intensity. Differences seem to arise in infancy. GEORGE KELLY: PERSONAL CONSTRUCT THEORY Born in Kansas in 1905 Parents were very religious Originally interested in

physics and math but changed to clinical psychology and education Most of career was spent at Ohio State. Kellys Basic Beliefs Humans as scientists People try to understand, predict, and control events in their lives Theyre less distressed if they have an explanation of why something occurred.

Were motivated to find meaning in our life circumstances and use this meaning to anticipate what will happen next. Personal Constructs Beliefs about the world that serve as our hypotheses to make the world meaningful Usually bipolar (opposite) categorical concepts (attractive/unattractive, intelligent/not smart, friendly/hostile) We use these constructs in our first impressions of others and automatically

categorize them into our categorical constructs. Personality According to Kelly, personality consists of differences in how we construe the world, especially the social world. Some people have more cognitive complexity than others, as measured by The Role Construct Repertory Test (REP Test). People high in cognitive complexity are better able to predict what others will do and relate to them.

Anxiety, according to Kelly Anxiety is the result of not being able to understand and predict life events Unpredictability anxiety The result of our personal constructs failing to make sense of our circumstances Constructs that are either too rigid or are applied too liberally fail. Steps of Therapy Kellys therapy was known as reconstruction.

Used role-playing in his theory Two steps: Elaborating the complaint Elaborating the construct system Locus of Control (Julian Rotter) Describes ones perception of responsibility for the events in his or her life Is responsibility located internally or externally? Rotter was a social learning theorist who studied how people have different expectations for reinforcement. Some people believe they are in control of the reinforcement. These are called internals.

Others fail to see the link between their behavior and reinforcement (externals). This is Rotters expectancy model of learning. Generalized Expectancies Generalized expectancies: a persons expectations for reinforcement hold across a variety of situations. External locus of controlgeneralized expectancy that events are outside of ones control (based on luck, chance, fate) Internal locus of controlgeneralized expectancy that one has control over events Internal LOC is associated with better outcomes.

Learned Helplessness Animals (including humans) when subjected to unpleasant and inescapable circumstances, become passive and accepting of a situation, in effect learning to be helpless Originated from learning theory Associated with Martin Seligman Explanatory Styles Explanatory style:

Tendency that some people have to use certain attributional categories when explaining causes of events Three broad categories of attributions 1. External or internal 2. Stable or unstable 3. Global or specific More about Explanatory Styles Optimistic explanatory style Unstable

External Specific Pessimistic explanatory style Stable Internal Global Personality Revealed Through Goals Focus of this approach is on intentionwhat the person wants to happen; what they want to achieve in life.

Littles Personal Projects Analysis Personal projecta set of relevant actions intended to achieve a goal that one has selected. Little believes personal projects reflect personality because they reflect how people navigate through their daily life. Findings regarding Personal Projects Neurotic people rate projects as stressful, difficult, likely to end in failure, and outside their control. They dont make

much progress toward goals. Overall happiness is related to feeling in control of personal projects. Low stress, high control, and high optimism regardless projects predict overall levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Banduras Social Learning Theory Bandura was trained as a classical behaviorist. Bobo doll experiments discovered

observational learning. Argued that people are reflective, have intentions & forethought, and can monitor their progress toward goals, and can learn through observation. Self-Efficacy The belief that you can accomplish what you set out to achieve. High

SelfEfficacy Better perfor mance Effort & persiste nce Dwecks Theory of Mastery Orientation Looked at differences in students who persisted in the face of failure and those who gave up.

Found that their implicit beliefs about the nature of intelligence impacted how they approached challenging tasks. Entity theory of intelligence: some people view intelligence as fixed and unchangeable; shy away from challenges & give up in face of failure Incremental theory of intelligence: view intelligence as changeable with hard work. Set mastery goals and seek challenges. We should praise effort, not ability. The Theory of Regulatory Focus (E. Tory Higgins) People regulate goal-directed behaviors in two

distinct ways serving two distinct needs: Promotion focus: concerned with advancement, growth, accomplishments; going for the gold. Correlates with extraversion & behavioral activation. Prevention focus: motivated to prevent failure; correlates with neuroticism and harm avoidance and negatively with impulsivity. Mischels Cognitive-Affective Personality System Mischel believed in behavioral specificitybehavior is more strongly influenced by the situation than by personality. Personality not a collection of traits but an organization of

cognitive & affective activities that influence how we respond to certain kinds of situations. Focused on processes rather than static traits. We use different thoughts & emotions to meet each situation. Ifthen propositions If situation A, then person does X, but if situation B, person does Y. If-Then situation-behavior patterns are stable and highly specific. Form behavioral signaturespersonality consistencies found in distinctive If-then

patterns of variability across situations.

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