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Jacob Johnston, Chapter 6

1. Vicarious reinforcement is reinforcement in which the learner learns from the


experience of someone else. For example, if in class one student is rewarded
for producing an exceptionally pretty diorama for a class project, another
student may learn that the appearances of his or her diorama matters as well
as the content knowledge it represents. Vicarious reinforcement has much
the same affect on behavior as regular reinforcement. The only difference is
that the original reinforcement was not directed at the learner.

2. Nonoccurrence of expected reinforcement works the same was as


punishment and nonoccurrence of expected punishment works the same way
as reinforcement. When the learner expects reinforcement that does not
materialize, it discourages them from the behavior. When an expected
occurrence of punishment does not materialize, it actually reinforces the
behavior. In fact, the emotional response from missing an expected outcome
can be greater than if the learner had received the expected outcome. An
example of nonoccurrence of expected reinforcement could be a tennis
player who lost their last match because of a single weakness; let’s say their
serve didn’t have much variety. This player then spends hours every week
working on improving their serving game, see improvements in their serve
and then loses their next match despite all of the work they put on their
serve. This is very discouraging when the player expected more success after
improving his or her serve. With nonoccurrence of expected punishment
perhaps a student gets caught chewing tobacco in class and expects to be
sent to ISS. Instead, the teacher gives the student a pass on the undesired
behavior. The student may feel he has gotten away with it and the thrill of
having gotten away with doing something against the rules may encourage
him to do it again in the future.

3. For modeling to occur, the learner must first pay attention to the model. If the
learner isn’t paying attention, there’s no way for the behavior to be learned.
Also, the finer details of a complex behavior must receive the learner’s
attention. If a child is learning to ride a bike by watching an older sibling ride
but only pays attention to the pedaling, the younger child will be unable to
steer and therefore not be able to ride a bike. Second, after attention has
been paid in the correct places, retention must occur. In other words, the
information must be remembered. For simple behaviors and quick learners
one viewing may be enough, but usually practice, or rehearsal, is required to
make sure retention occurs. Another requirement is motor reproduction. The
learner must be physically able to reproduce the behavior. I have a fairly
week upper body. It wouldn’t matter if I paid attention to and retained the
fundamentals of Peyton Manning’s passing form. I may improve my ability to
Jacob Johnston, Chapter 6

throw a football, but I’m not going to be able to hit a moving target from 60
yards. I am just not physically fit enough. Finally, motivation is needed.
People just won’t do something they’re not motivated to do. I have doubt I’d
ever make an NFL team no matter how hard I work and that gives me a lack
of motivation to work on my football skills, so I have no reason to even try to
imitate Peyton Manning’s passing motion. However, if someone were to offer
me a million dollars to work toward that goal of passing like Peyton, I’d
suddenly have ample motivation to learn.

4. For someone to model another’s behaviors several things must happen,


according to Bandura. First, the model must be competent, or at least viewed
as such by the learner. A child is less likely to model her driving skills after
the parent that is always made fun of for being a bad driver. The model must
have prestige and power. Trying to get a first grader to do something like a
Kindergartner, even if the younger child is exceptional at the behavior, is a
lost cause. The first grader is just going to see the younger student as
beneath them. The model must also behave as the learner expects a person
of that gender to behave. Boys are more likely to pretend to shave their chins
like their fathers than they are to pretend to shave their legs like their
mothers. Finally, the model’s behavior must be relevant to the learner’s
situation. This may explain why many of my rural working class or poor
students don’t speak or behave like the typically middle class people they
see on television. They don’t see the lives of urban dwellers as relevant to
their lives, so instead of seeking out fancy coffee and college radio station
music, they ride four wheelers, hunt, and listen to country music.

5. I am a homebrewer, meaning that one of my hobbies is brewing my own


beer. This task often seems rather daunting to people who aren’t familiar
with the process, especially when faced with all of the unfamiliar equipment
and ingredients a beginner is faced with. I have had friends who have had
very low self-efficacy about brewing their own beer even though they were
interested. To help them get over their self-efficacy issues, I can use a couple
of techniques to help them. First, I compare the brewing process to
something they may be comfortable with, cooking, making soup in particular.
The hardest part of the process is the “cooking” part, soaking the grain in hot
water and then boiling the resulting “tea” that comes from the hot water the
grains were in. This ties into the person’s previous successes and failures.
Most of my friends are at least competent cooks and this helps them feel
more self-efficacy. Another option is to have them brew a beer with me,
something I’ve done with several friends. By telling them what to do and
Jacob Johnston, Chapter 6

being able to encourage them while they’re working, I give them more self
confidence in the task through my messages.

6. When social cognitive theorists use the term “self-regulating” they mean that
the individual actually guides their behavior on their own set of guidelines for
behavior. For example, I am the father of a two-year-old, and being two, he
gives me ample opportunities to lose my temper. However, my personal
guidelines prevent me from beating him. In public, this could be explained by
the disapproval of onlookers, but at home, that external motivation to control
my temper is not there. Instead is my own internal praise and punishment
that keep me level headed. Having modeled my parenting skills after my own
parents, I internalized that physical abuse is horrible and not to even be
considered. If I were to work with a father who did not already have my self-
regulation of abusive behavior, I’d start with teaching him self-instructions.
Whenever he started to feel angry, he could remind himself to 1) Pause, 2)
Breathe, 3)Explain, 4)Match punishment to crime. Of course, the father may
very well need to be taught appropriate punishments, but this self-instruction
could help him begin to self-regulate his abusive behavior. I would also
encourage the father to use self-monitoring. I’d have them keep a journal
that described their interactions with their children each day including the
way they ended up responding to the child in each situation and the child’s
reaction to the father’s behavior. This could actually reinforce to the father
just how unacceptable his behavior has been.

7. To reduce my over-eating, I’d definitely want to start with self-monitoring to


show myself just how much I consumed every day. This could take the form
of a food journal where I marked down everything I ate or drank during a day
and a tally of things like calories and fat. This would demonstrate just how
much I had been eating, something perhaps that I hadn’t consciously realized
earlier. Next, I would use self-reinforcement, something I actually did the last
time I was on a diet. If I followed the Weight Watchers plan exactly during the
five work days I would actually take the weekend off of my diet. This gave me
more will power during the week so I could splurge when I wouldn’t have to
feel guilty about cheating. It also worked for me. I lost about forty pounds
during that time.

8. Social cognitive theory suggests that describing the consequences of


behaviors can effectively increase appropriate behaviors and decrease
inappropriate ones. This is something many teachers, including myself, could
improve on. Students who don’t really know what to expect are less able to
Jacob Johnston, Chapter 6

do what you want them to do and knowing what they should fear should they
misbehave may be more effective than some than the actual punishment.
Modeling is also a good idea, especially in writing. I often work my remedial
writing classes through a model essay where I write a persuasive essay with
their input using the guidelines we had previously studied. This gives them a
more concrete example of what we had been talking about from a model
they hopefully consider competent. The fact that adults should model
appropriate behaviors and avoid modeling inappropriate ones seems obvious.
A parent who smokes, curses, and doesn’t read should not be surprised when
their teenager smokes, curses, and doesn’t read. Also, teachers should help
students set realistic expectations for their accomplishments. A high school
basketball player modeling his game after Lebron James is setting himself up
for discouragement when he can’t do what his idol does on a regular basis. A
good coach would want to set more appropriate short-term goals for that
player. Instead of being able to charge the basket and muscle his way
through the defense, perhaps the 120-pound boy should work on his
shooting percentages to become a great three-point shooter because that’s
where his talents actually lie and he would see more success and less
discouragement.

Website Response

The chart of Bandura’s Reciprocal Determinism shows how three elements feed
each other. The environment helps to create the person and their behavior. The
person’s behavior and their personality can also help create the environment. The
example on the site shows how an environment of hostility leads to hostile thinking
in the individual. This hostile thinking leads to both hostile behavior and sustaining
the hostile behavior. This may explain why pessimistic people seem to have bad
things happen to them so often. Their environment may have caused them to think
negatively, but the negative thinking later leads to behavior that creates more bad
things to happen.