Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 5 of 153 
Next page End Contents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  

Overview of this chapter
In this chapter we will concentrate on understanding ordinary
behavior, including how new behavior is learned and how behavior is
changed (this is continued in chapter 11). We will look at simple
models of learning. Then we will focus on motivation, especially
achievement motivation. The common problem of procrastination
provides us with a more complex behavior to analyze. Stopping
unwanted behaviors and preventing relapses are other important skills
to acquire. The chapter concludes with several explanations of why
behavior is hard to understand and with a brief description of many
methods for changing behavior, using various forms of oral
consumption for our examples. 
Obviously, emotion expresses itself partly through behavior, but
separate chapters deal with fear (ch. 5), sadness (ch. 6), anger (ch. 7)
and dependency (ch. 8). Also, skills (ch. 13) influence your
performance in many ways. Certainly your thoughts, including your
goals and plans, self-instructions (ch. 11), values (ch. 3),
expectations, self-concept, personality, self-deceptions, unawareness,
and unconscious factors (chs. 9, 14 and 15) influence your behavior.
You may want to go directly to those chapters, skipping behavior, if
those emotions or cognitive factors seem to be more at the core of
your problems. 
Psychologists use the term "learning" to refer to any change in
behavior that results from experience (Hergenhahn, 1982). To a
degree some of our actions are surely influenced by our genes or just
by "human nature," but most of our behavior, in contrast to other
animals, has been learned from experience. This is true of our
unwanted behavior too. So, if bad habits have been learned, they
could be unlearned. Likewise, becoming a better person, more
thoughtful of others or more skillful, involves new learning (new
behavior, new thinking, new values, or new motivation). Thus, as we
come to understand more clearly how we got to be the way we are,
how we learned to be ourselves, surely we will know more about how
to become what we would like to be. That's our task here. 
Typical Introductory Psychology textbooks have described three
common kinds of learning: operant conditioning, classical conditioning,
and complex social learning. In the first kind of learning (instrumental
or operant) we attempt to use our past experience to produce some
result, some payoff, usually some change in the environment.
Example: You act nice to get someone to like you. The second
(classical) usually produces an automatic reflexive response, often an
emotion, to a specific situation. Example: Cigarettes come to taste
good and calm you down after you have smoked thousands in relaxed
circumstances. The third kind of learning (observational or social
modeling) is when we learn ways of behaving by observing someone
else, such as how to approach someone in a bar or how to get our way
by getting angry. In this chapter, we'll learn more about these ways of
learning. We will attempt to analyze the real causes of real life
Previous page Top Next page

« Back