Social Cognitive Perspective and Biological Perspective – Personality (PSY)

by Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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    00:01 Let’s take a look at different ways of looking at your personality in terms of social cognition.

    00:11 So personality, based in this model is based on the interaction between three things: your behavior, your cognitive abilities, and environmental factors.

    00:21 So, the behavioral component includes patterns of behavioral learn through conditioning, right? So this is -- we’ve seen this before and I’m sure you’ve read this before.

    00:29 That’s really important.

    00:30 Then we have observational or vicarious learning.

    00:33 This is when you view another’s behavior with consequences.

    00:36 And this happens a lot as a child.

    00:38 So think of a scenario where you're either watching your parents do something like, I don’t know, steal a slice of pie that’s been sitting on the counter and your mother or the dads wife said, “Do not touch this pie.” And the dad goes in and sneaks and takes the pie and eats it and what happens? The mother comes around the corner, sees that a slice is missing and starts yelling at the father.

    01:01 “I told you! What’s wrong with you?” And starts slapping the father on a little bit, okay? Now, the child realizes that, “Okay, the dad was told something, did not follow, and he was punished.” And that observational learning is really, really important.

    01:15 Okay? There’s the cognitive component where this includes mental processes involved with observational learning, the point that we just mentioned, and self-efficacy beliefs.

    01:24 So now, we’re bringing that thinking component.

    01:26 So what did I just learn? What were the consequences? And really using your mind to piece all that together and also layering that on top of yourself efficacy beliefs.

    01:37 And the module that we talked about self-efficacy is our quick reminder that is how -- how do you feel about your skill set? How efficacious or good are you doing certain things? So that will help shape -- shape your personality as well.

    01:52 So if you feel that you’re really good at doing something, you have good belief in yourself self-efficacy, that’s going to bolster and change and modify your personality.

    02:01 There’s an environmental component.

    02:03 So that can include a situational influences or opportunities, rewards, punishments.

    02:07 So, let’s go back to the scenario of classical conditioning or operate learning.

    02:13 We’re going to talk about that in just a sec.

    02:15 But there are rewards and punishments.

    02:18 So, depending on your environment, if you are rewarded for good behavior, then you’re going to continue that behavior and that will then go on to shape your personality, right? So you continue to do really good things, that now part becomes part of your personality.

    02:32 And if you’re continually being punished because you’re doing things inappropriately, that’s going to also shape your personality.

    02:38 So the environment, the situation you’re in, the setting that you’re in, the opportunities that are presented to you, the rewards, and the punishment can all shape your personality.

    02:48 And then another point I wanted to bring up is something called “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy” or CBT.

    02:53 And CBT is really unique.

    02:55 It’s gotten extremely popular in that last 15 to 20 years because it is really great at identifying your behavior, but then allowing you to use your mind or your cognition to help shape or influence that behavior.

    03:11 So patients identify dysfunctional or irrational thought, and then they can modify their behavior to help change their thinking.

    03:20 So it’s really, really efficacious, really useful and so many different things like addiction and depression and dealing with stress.

    03:28 It’s fantastic.

    03:29 Again, what it’s doing is it’s putting the onus on you to help modify your behavior based on cognitive abilities.

    03:37 So you’re using your mind to change your behavior.

    03:41 Now, let’s take a look at the biology behind personality.

    03:46 So we can’t say that all of the personality is driven by all the different theories we just talked about.

    03:51 There needs to be something more to it.

    03:53 And this biological perspective brings that to the table.

    03:56 And say that personality is at least in part due to innate biological differences amongst people.

    04:02 So, what we’re saying is that you’re born with certain personality traits.

    04:07 And this tends to be believable because of this genetic predisposition or heritability of basic personality traits.

    04:15 And we know that, you know, if your parents are extremely calm or if they’re really extroverted or if they’re really introverted.

    04:24 There’s a strong likelihood that you will inherit some of that.

    04:27 And so that’s why we’re saying that’s innate.

    04:29 It’s not necessarily 100% completely acquired through observational learning or being in that cultural environment.

    04:36 Some of it might come simply because it’s innate.

    04:40 Okay? So, what you can also do further is look at actual brain structure.

    04:47 So we know that there is a linkage between some of these basic personality traits and certain brain structures and their function.

    04:55 So, Hans Eysenck, he proposed that the level of extroversion is based on differences of a specific structure.

    05:02 That structure is the reticular formation in the brain.

    05:05 So he used to tease that out.

    05:06 He says, “Introverts have a lower threshold, tolerate less external stimulation.

    05:11 So, what does this threshold refer to? Threshold is an amount, a line, an imaginary line, certain level of activation that you need to initiate a response.

    05:22 If you have a high threshold, that means you need a lot of stimulation in order to achieve that threshold and surpass it and initiate a response.

    05:30 If you have a -- if you have a high threshold, you can take a lot of stimulation before you initiate a response.

    05:38 So introverts have a low threshold, therefore it’s really easy to stimulate them.

    05:43 So, imagine an introvert having a little threshold being in a quiet place.

    05:50 And as soon as it starts getting loud and a lot of people are talking, they’re trying to interact socially, they don’t like that.

    05:56 It’s too much stimulation for them.

    05:57 You’ve already initiated a response.

    05:59 As opposed to extroverts, they can take a lot, a lot of stimulation and can be in a really loud environment because they’re less easily aroused, and you see them being drawn to that.

    06:11 Extroverts like to be where the hustle and bustle is at.

    06:14 They like to be at a lot of party, where introverts like to be in a quiet room reading a book away from other individuals.

    06:19 So, correlations have been also been found with volume of brain structures within the limbic system.

    06:24 And if you remember the limbic system contain the structures like the nucleus accumbens, the ventral tegmental area, and the prefrontal cortex.

    06:32 And these structures typically will have a certain volume and shape and size and there seems to be differences there.

    06:40 So, introvert seems to have -- between introverts and extroverts you see this difference in the volume of the brain structures.

    06:48 Jeffrey Alan Gray proposed that personality is governed by interactions of three brain systems, and we’ve seen some of these before.

    06:57 The first being the sympathetic nervous system and that is the fight or flight system.

    07:02 And that might mediate fearfulness and avoidance.

    07:05 So, we believe that the interactions that shape your personality might be linked to those behaviors in that brain structure.

    07:14 Behavioral inhibition systems might mediate worry and anxiety.

    07:18 And Behavioral approach systems might modulate optimism and impulsivity.

    07:23 So again, what we’re trying to do here is link personality traits and personality and behavior to specific brain systems and brain structures.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Social Cognitive Perspective and Biological Perspective – Personality (PSY) by Tarry Ahuja, PhD is from the course Individual Influences on Behavior.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Vicarious learning
    2. Mental component
    3. Behavior
    4. Reinforcement
    5. Operant conditioning
    1. Cognitive component
    2. Observational component
    3. Behavioral component
    4. Environmental component
    5. Genetic component
    1. Environmental component
    2. Emotional component
    3. Inherent component
    4. Learned component
    5. Conscious component
    1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
    2. Cognitive therapy
    3. Exposure therapy
    4. Aversion therapy
    5. Psychoanalysis
    1. Amygdala
    2. Falx cerebri
    3. Medulla
    4. Pons
    5. Cerebrospinal fluid
    1. Reticular activating system
    2. Occipital lobe
    3. Total brain mass
    4. Frontal lobe
    5. Brainstem

    Author of lecture Social Cognitive Perspective and Biological Perspective – Personality (PSY)

     Tarry Ahuja, PhD

    Tarry Ahuja, PhD

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