Behavioral and Social-Learning Theories of Personality
In contrast to a person-centered approach, which endorses change from within, behaviorists assert that the change process (human behavior) is influenced from outside, by the environment. The environment is emphasized to such a degree for the behaviorist that constructs such as perceptions, memories, thoughts and traits are not relevant to the process (Funder, 2001). What is central to the process, however, is learning new ways of behavior.
The behavioral perspective places great emphasis on technique. The therapeutic relationship is secondary to the client learning new ways of behavior. This does not mean the counselor is remote or detached (how effective would that be?), but the therapeutic relationship is not viewed as a vehicle for change.
Extending from a purely behavioral perspective of personality, the social-cognitive theorists developed a more encompassing view of personality. Social-cognitive theorists posit that an explanation of the influence of environment on behavior is not sufficient. A host of other factors are involved in the reinforcing nature of the environment. We are not merely acted upon by the environment, but we have the capacity to shape our environment, based on the assumptions that people are goal-directed, self-reflective, and can self-regulate (Bandura, 1986). Albert Bandura acknowledged that learning can occur via several avenues and that beliefs and perceptions play a large part in the process.
There are several concepts from this unit, such as modeling and self-efficacy, which can be of clinical relevance in working with clients, regardless of a helper’s theoretical orientation. As you process the material from this unit, fully contemplate the concepts that present as universally appealing—concepts that speak to you when you envision working with clients.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action. New York: Prentice Hall.
Funder, D. C. (2001). Personality. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 197–221.
To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:
1. Assess the expression of self-efficacy and motivation.
2. Analyze these constructs from the behavioral and social-cognitive perspectives.
3. Discuss the role of self-efficacy and motivation in the counseling process.
4. Analyze the construct of self-esteem from a social-cognitive perspective.
Learning Activities Studies Readings
In the Theories of Personality text, read:
• Chapter 12, “B. F. Skinner: Reinforcement Theory,” pages 307–326.
• Chapter 13, “Albert Bandura: Modeling Theory,” pages 329–354.
These chapters discuss the behavioral and social-learning views of personality through the lenses of B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura.
Use the library to locate and read a professional article (within the past five years) about self-efficacy and its role in the counseling process. You will use this article in an upcoming discussion about how this construct relates to motivation and its relevance in working with clients.
Discussion 1: 1 page needed with two references.
Self-Efficacy and Motivation
Use the professional article you found from the library about self-efficacy and its role in the counseling process to inform your initial post.
For this discussion:
• Answer the following questions in your initial post:
o What is the relationship between self-efficacy and motivation?
o What are the roles of self-efficacy and motivation in the counseling process? How are they relevant?
• Analyze these constructs from a behavioral perspective.
• Analyze them from a social-learning perspective.
Discussion 2: 1 page needed with two references.
The Construct of Self-Esteem
For this week’s self-esteem discussion, answer the following questions:
• How would social-cognitive theory describe low self-esteem in the words of its own theoretical model?
• How does this theoretical model suggest means of assisting people to overcome their sense of low self-esteem? Use this unit’s text readings to support your discussion.