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Lecture Theories of Child Development


									               Lecture: Theories of Child Development

Despite the agreement on many aspects of child development, there are several different
perspectives from which one may view development. Each perspective is a different way of
looking at the same process. Each presents different theories.

What is a theory? Theory is NOT fact. Theories are a coherent set of ideas that helps
explain data and make predictions. Theories contain hypotheses - assumptions that can be
tested to determine their accuracy using the scientific method.

There are five major perspectives which you have probably learned about in General
Psychology. Each perspective is very different and no one perspective can account for how
complex child development is. This means while we may look at a given topic from each
perspective, no one perspective can answer everything. Usually, we integrate the
perspectives to better understand the complexity of children. You may find you have a
favorite perspective and prefer to explain development from that angle but you will no
doubt find that every perspective offers invaluable contributions.

The five major perspectives are:
1. psychoanalytic - focuses on unconscious emotions and drives
2. learning - studies observable behavior
3. cognitive - analyzes thought processes
4. sociobiological - looks at the biology of social behavior
5. contextual - looks at the environment, culture, etc.

We will be discussing cognitive theory in great detail later as well as the sociobiological and
contextual aspects so I will also just give an overview of them here.
For the psychoanalytic perspective, I have included a copy of my Freud lecture from
General Psychology. It is everything you ever (or never) wanted to know about Freud,
defense mechanisms and some other personality theorists that are considered
Just in case you do not remember the learning (behaviorist) perspective in detail, I have
provided the lectures from my General Psychology course which are extremely detailed.
You are expected to know this material since PSY 100 is a prerequisite for the upper level

Perspective 1: Psychoanalytic
We begin with my favorite. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Freud. But Freud
is not the only important person who contributed to this perspective. We also need to look
at the work of Erik Erikson.

The psychoanalytic perspective views development as shaped by unconscious forces that
motivate human behavior. Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalysis, a therapeutic approach
that aims to make people aware of their unconscious conflicts.
But before we begin, why don't you take the following survey:

Use the following scale to indicate the degree to which you agree or disagree with each of
the following statements.
                1 = Strongly disagree
                2 = Disagree
                3 = Neutral
                4 = Agree
                5 = Strongly agree
____ 1. Events that occurred during childhood have no effect on one's personality in
____ 2. Sexual adjustment is easy for most people.
____ 3. Culture and society have evolved as ways to curb human beings' natural
____ 4. Little boys should not become too attached to their mothers.
____ 5. It is possible to deliberately "forget" something too painful to remember.
____ 6. People who chronically smoke, eat, or chew gum have some deep psychological
____ 7. Competitive people are no more aggressive than noncompetitive people are.
____ 8. Fathers should remain somewhat aloof from their daughters.
____ 9. Toilet training is natural and not traumatic for most children.
____ 10. The phallus (penis) is a symbol of power.
____ 11. A man who dates a woman old enough to be his mother has problems.
____ 12. Some women are best described as being "castrating bitches" which means they
make men feel like they are not real men.
____ 13. Dreams merely replay events that occurred during the day and have no deep
____ 14. Something is wrong with a woman who dates a man old enough to be her father.
____ 15. A student who wants to postpone an exam by saying, "My grandmother lied…er, I
mean died," should probably be allowed the postponement.
Source: Miserandino, M. (1994). Freudian principles in everyday life. Teaching of
psychology, 21, 93-95.
Sigmund Freud
 When people hear the name Freud, they think many things. Sigmund Freud was the most
influential figure in psychology in the 20th century. He was the founder of psychoanalysis,
which is the theory of personality that stresses unconscious life and early childhood
experiences. But while Freud laid the foundation that current psychologists and
psychiatrists continue to build on, his reputation is not just one of genius but of radical
controversy. Freud has been called sexist, a sex maniac, and more. We will discuss Freud's
personal life a bit to help clear up these allegations.

Sigmund Freud was born on May 6, 1856 (he's a Taurus, like me) in the Czech Republic.
When he was 4, his family moved to Vienna which was a very repressed society (no one
talked about sex, no one gave much thought to children or women, etc.). This is important
because one has to read Freud's theories in their context. Women were considered inferior
in Vienna in the 1800's. Thus, Freud's theories were not sexist but merely reflected the
views of that time.

Freud was not a psychiatrist nor was he a psychologist. Freud was a physician, a neurologist
by specialty. He was very interested in the brain and the mind. Freud was one of the first
researchers to discover the anesthetic and mood-altering properties of cocaine although he
did not receive credit for this. What he did receive attention for was the fact that Freud
used cocaine during his research. The point that is often ignored is that as soon as the
addictive properties of cocaine were discovered, Freud lost all interest in the drug and its
medical potential.

Freud was having a lot of trouble finding work as a researcher in Vienna. Vienna was very
anti-Semitic and Freud, being Jewish, was not welcomed with open arms. He needed money
to support his wife and 6 children so he turned to practicing medicine.

At this time in Vienna, women were suffering from a condition known as hysteria. Hysteria
comes from "hystero" which means "uterus" as in hysterectomy. Thus, it was considered a
woman's disease. Women with hysteria had many strange symptoms: muteness, paralysis,
fainting, emotional outbursts, frigidity, etc. Women were brought to medical arenas where
the doctors would show them off to students but no one was treating them or talking to
them. In fact, there were two popular treatments for hysteria. One was horseback riding
because it was believed that the galloping of the horse would knock the uterus back into
place. The second treatment was sex. One doctor believed the cause of hysteria was "lack
of good penis" and so that would be the treatment. If you're laughing now and I know you
are, just think how many times we say that if someone is in a bad mood, they need to have
sex and how many times we say if someone is in a good mood that they must have gotten
some sex.

Joseph Breuer was a physician who was using hypnosis with women. He found that if he
hypnotized the patients, they would speak more freely and after expressing emotions, the
symptoms would be better. He called this catharsis- let it out and you'll feel better. Freud
began to work with Breuer but found that not everyone can be hypnotized. He did agree
with the catharsis so Freud began a technique known as free association--patients would
spontaneously talk, Freud would guide and analyze, and eventually forgotten memories would
come out. This technique is still used today. If you need a witness to remember details of
an event, you can have them relax and guide them until they remember things they believed
they had forgotten or didn't even realize they had seen. Freud and Breuer wrote Studies
on Hysteria and psychoanalysis had begun.

One of things Freud discovered during the free association and dream interpretation of his
patients was that many of the recovered memories had to do with abuse, particularly sexual
abuse. When Freud shared his findings with his colleagues, they threatened to kick him out
of the medical field he had fought so hard to get into. Remember, Vienna was repressed.
No one wanted to hear about children being sexually abused by relatives (even today people
are in denial as to how much this happens) and all the talk about sex and children having
sexual drives was very disconcerting to them. So Freud recanted and came up with other
theories to explain these memories. Again, Freud is noted for saying that women have
fantasies of being abused but the reality is that Freud is the one who first publicly stated
that women were being sexually abused as children and that it mattered how you treat

Freud's career continued and he published numerous books and essays. But Freud's life was
also filled with many personal tragedies and knowing them helps one understand the thinking
that probably went into a lot of his theories. There was the horror of World War I. Then
one of his daughters died which prompted Freud's theory of the death instinct. Freud then
developed cancer of the jaw, which was very painful and led to over 30 operations. The
continuing anti-Semitism and the growing Nazi power may have been very influential in
Freud's theories of religion. Basically, Freud denounced religion altogether. He would tell
people he was Jewish by birth but considered himself an atheist.

As the Nazi's continued to grow in power, the destructive qualities of the world and its
people became more and more apparent. Freud turned away from his theories that said that
sexuality guided behavior and now turned to aggression as the powerful drive. Freud
believed that human nature and civilization were in deep conflict with each other and could
not be resolved. Freud's theories are all pretty pessimistic but Freud wasn't exactly a
happy guy. In fact, he could be quite mean and nasty. Freud also had many phobias and
neuroses himself. But most of his pessimistic nature was probably due to his life
circumstances and all the horror he saw around him. By the time Hitler came into power,
Freud's books were banned and publicly burned. The Nazi's threatened Freud's life if he
didn't leave Vienna. Freud refused but then the Nazi's seized his daughter, Anna, and held
her in Gestapo headquarters until Freud gave in and agreed to leave Austria. Freud escaped
with some of his family in the middle of the night and resettled in England. A year later his
cancer came back. In 1939, Freud died in London at the age of 83. It's not a well-known
fact that Freud was euthanized. He had an agreement with his doctor that when the pain
became too much to bear, the doctor would relieve Freud of his misery. Freud did not know
that back in Vienna, his sisters and other relatives were slaughtered in the concentration
Freud's theories
Freud believed that we all have a psychic energy (not psychic like ESP, psychic from
"psyche" which actually means "soul" but is used to mean "mind") called libido. The libido
wants pleasure but some of the things that could pleasure the libido would not be accepted
by society so those desires are pushed away into the unconscious and we are not aware of
them. But the energy, like in the laws of physics, cannot just disappear. It changes form
and it turns to anxiety which expresses itself in symptoms. If you can release the anxiety
by talking, symptoms should get better.

Topography of the Mind
Freud believed there are three parts to our mind. He said the mind is like an iceberg with
the majority of it under water where you can't see it and just the tip above the surface
where you can see it.

Above the water would be the conscious mind. The conscious mind consists of everything
you are aware of at this moment. At the surface of the water and right beneath it is the
preconscious or subconscious mind. Here is the information that you are not aware of at
this moment but can easily be made aware of, like if I asked you to remember your high
school graduation or your Mother's birthday. Below the water is the majority of our mind,
the unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is filled with all the things we are not aware of
and perhaps, cannot be easily made aware of. However, the unconscious mind has a great
amount of influence on your conscious behavior and thoughts.

When information from the unconscious does pop up above the water, it may be distorted,
illogical, disguised or in symbols--all of which need to be analyzed. For example, dreams
usually don't make too much sense and they don’t follow the laws of time and space. Freud
believed that the dream you remember contains the manifest content, all the symbols that
need to be interpreted. What the dream really means is called the latent content. Why is
it disguised? Because there is something about it that would upset us too much if we were
aware of it and the mind, first and foremost, tries to protect us.

Freud also believed that the unconscious could pop up in other ways besides dreams.
Unconscious material pops up in jokes, in accidents, in forgetting (Freudians believe there
are no accidents and no simple forgetting), in slips of the tongue. Freudian slips are
inadvertent mistakes we make when we speak. They are also called parapraxes. It's like
when a man says, "My mother…er, I mean my wife wants me to call her." Simple mistake or
not? You don't remember your anniversary. Bad memory or something deeper? Freud
believed that these "mistakes" were influenced by unconscious motives.

Structure of Personality
According to Freud, there are three parts to our mind--the id, the ego, and the superego.
The id is the primitive part of the mind. It is entirely unconscious and is present from
birth. The id works on primary process thinking which means the process is symbolic and
does not obey the laws of space and time. The id contains two parts: the libido which seeks
pleasure and an aggressive drive which seeks to remove obstacles to pleasure. Libido is not
merely sexual pleasure but the pleasure one receives from being held, fed, comforted, etc.
Thus, the id is said to work on the pleasure principle.
Later, Freud reworked his theory about the id stating we have a life instinct and a death
instinct which are in conflict with each other--an instinct to live and a self-destructive

The id wants what it wants when it wants it but we learn early on that we can't always have
what we want when we want it. Reality sinks in. This is how the ego develops. The ego is
partly unconscious and partly conscious. The ego works on the reality principle and by
logical secondary process thinking. The ego reminds us that society has rules.

The ego has several jobs. One job it has is to satisfy the id. When the id wants something
that it can't have, the ego must find an alternate way to satisfy the id's desire for pleasure
in a way that is acceptable. A second job is to defend us from anxiety. The ego handles our
defense mechanisms which are ways in which we distort reality to alleviate anxiety. The
third job of the ego is the observing ego. The ego watches us like a third eye to monitor
our behavior and impulses. There is a table on p. 31 in your text that gives examples of 6
defense mechanisms. There is a full lecture on this at the end of the psychoanalytic section
of this lecture. You are responsible for knowing at least the six in your text plus whichever
ones we later discuss.

The third part of the mind is the superego which is our conscience, our sense of right and
wrong, our guilty conscience. The superego punishes us for not only doing bad things but
even for having bad thoughts. We will discuss where the superego comes from in a bit.

So in summary, if there is something you want like sex, your id is the part saying, "Take it,
just take it," while your ego is saying, "No, there are rules and laws. You just can't take it.
Why don't you do this instead?" Meanwhile your superego is making you feel really guilty
for having wanted to take it.

Freud's Psychosexual Theory of Personality Development
According to Freud, we go through 5 stages of personality development. In each stage, our
sexual energy is focused on a different part of our bodies. Thus, Freud stated that we
have sexual energy since birth (which didn't make his colleagues happy). The psychosexual
stages are as follows:
1. Oral Stage (0-18 months)- sexual energy is focused on the mouth. Infants get pleasure
    from sucking, breast-feeding, eating, putting things in their mouths, etc.
2. Anal Stage (18 mos.-3 yrs)- the first thing an infant has control of is his bowel
    movements. How a child is toilet trained really matters in terms of personality
    development and their sense of control over their world.
3. Phallic Stage (3-6 yrs.)- during this stage, children discover pleasure from their own
4. Latency Stage (6-12 yrs.)- during this stage, Freud believed there is no sexual energy.
5. Genital Stage (12 yrs. And on)- in this last stage, people find pleasure in other people's
    genitals and can have relationships with others.

At each psychosexual stage, a child may be under- or overstimulated. If frustrated or
neglected, a child will feel unloved, unworthy and will have unmet needs for that stage. If
overindulged or abused, a child may also have trouble successfully going on to the next
stage. This is known as fixation--the person will continue to seek satisfaction through
behaviors associated with that stage.
So for example, a person who smokes, overeats, starves, bites their nails may have an oral
fixation. A person who is stingy, obsessive, compulsive, or has no sense of control at all may
have an anal fixation.

The Oedipus Complex
According to Freud, every child goes through a period where they UNCONSCIOUSLY
desire their opposite sex parent and want to get rid of the same sex parent. This is known
as the Oedipus Complex, named after the Greek myth of Oedipus who unknowingly married
his mother and killed his father.
For boys, they want their mothers all to themselves and want Dad out of the way. This
causes a lot of ambivalent feelings in the boys including castration anxiety, the fear that
the father will punish him by castrating him.
For girls, they want their fathers and want Mom out of the way. When girls discover they
don't have a penis, they believe they have already been punished and according to Freud,
develop penis envy. According to Freud, this wish for a penis is the explanation of all
women's troubles.
Both boys and girls resolve the Oedipus Complex by using a defense mechanism called
identification. Rather than wishing or trying to rid themselves of the same sex parent, the
child imitates and internalizes that parent's values, attitudes, and mannerisms. But the
child cannot imitate the sexual desire toward the other parent; that becomes taboo.
When the child identifies with same sex parent, his or her sexual energy is repressed. This
happens during the latency stage. The resolution of the Oedipal Complex leads to the
development of the superego with all its punishing guilt. In the genital stage, the child
turns his or her sexual desire towards more acceptable substitutes, who often resemble the
desired parent. Choosing a mate who reminds you of your mother or father is related to the
Oedipal Complex.

Many people have trouble believing in this theory but if you examine children between the
ages of 3 and 6, you will see the attachment they have to their opposite sex parent and
what almost looks like rejection of their same sex parent. Unresolved Oedipal issues can
lead to serious symptoms and problems later in life.

Freud's penis envy theory and other views on female sexuality are also widely criticized.
Freud, himself, admitted that he didn't understand women. A lot of people, both men and
women, would agree with that statement.

Last summer, I went to a Freud exhibit at the Jewish Museum. I was in awe. To see his
personal writings in his own handwriting (although they weren't in English so it could have
been his shopping list for all I knew), to hear his voice on tape, to see film footage of him
and his family, to hear him barely able to speak because of the cancer, was a humbling and
incredible experience for me. Of course, you know by now that I idolize Freud (although I
don't agree with many of his theories). He laid the foundation, he had the courage to speak
out (and before he died, he retracted his earlier retractions--another little known fact), he
was the one who said people should treat their children well so they can grow up healthy.
No matter how much people criticize or make fun of or trivialize Freud, there is no theory,
not one, that doesn't use something he came up with. Even the behaviorist school has now
admitted they believe in the unconscious (this is like the government admitting aliens exist).
People try to say that Freud is not relevant today but Freud is the one who believed all
behavior is biological and we have come full circle with psychobiology.
Look back at your answers to the survey. Before you add up your score, you have to reverse
the numbers for statements 1, 2, 7, 9, 13 and 15; thus 1 = 5, 2 = 4, 3 = 3, 4 = 2, 5 = 1.
The higher your score, the more you support Freudian views. The maximum score is 75. If
you don't support Freudian view, your score should be closer to about 15.

An advocate of Freud would have agreed with statements 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15 and
disagreed with the remaining statements.

The following identifies the Freudian concept relevant to each statement.
Psychosexual development: 1
Oral stage: 6
Anal stage: 9
Phallic stage and Oedipus complex: 4 and 8
Oedipal fixation and penis envy: 10 and 12
Genital stage: 2, 11, 14
Death instinct and aggression: 3 and 7
Repression: 5
Dream symbolism: 13
Parapraxes or Freudian slips: 15

As you can see, Freud had and continues to have far-reaching influence on American culture

Freud's ideas may have been controversial but he had many followers. Even people who
disagreed with Freud used his models to develop their own theories. These theorists are
often called neo-Freudians (the "new" Freudians) and they are considered part of the
psychodynamic perspective of personality.
Neo-Freudians had 3 big disagreements with Freud's theories:
1. they didn't agree with all the emphasis on sex
2. they didn't agree that personality is determined in childhood
3. they didn't share Freud's bleak, pessimistic outlook on the world.

Erik Erikson
Erikson was a psychodynamic theorist who developed the psychosocial theory of
development. Unlike Freud, Erikson believed that we should focus on the ego rather than
the id. He believed that the social aspects of life influenced development.

Basically, Erikson believed that development does not end at adolescence but continues
throughout the life span. He developed 8 stages of development that span from birth to
Erikson also believed, unlike Freud, that we do not become fixated in any one stage. We can
move back and forth through the stages which allows us to repair past insults to some

Erikson stated that at each stage of life, we are faced with a crisis. A crisis is not
necessarily a bad thing, it is an opportunity for growth. How well we handle that crisis will
influence how well we go onto the next one. So for instance, at birth we either develop
trust or mistrust (it's actually on a spectrum). If we develop trust, we can go into the next
stage with a healthy foundation. If we develop mistrust, it will shadow all the stages to

The most important stages in Erikson's theory for you to learn are the trust vs. mistrust
stage and the identity vs. identity confusion stage that occurs in adolescence.

Age      Freud's      Erikson's    Erikson's Developmental Issues Virtue
         Psychosexual Psychosocial
         Stages       Stages
         Oral             Basic trust Infants learn to trust others to               HOPE
to 1
Year                      vs. mistrust satisfy their needs and
                                          therefore develop self-worth.
                                          Infants receiving inconsistent
                                          care may grow to mistrust the
                                          people in their world.
1 to 3
         Anal             Autonomy        Children learn to be self-                 WILL-
                          vs. shame       sufficient by mastering tasks             POWER
                          and doubt       such as feeding and dressing
                                          themselves. Children who do
                                          not develop autonomy may
                                          doubt their abilities and their
                                          capacity to act on the world. As
                                          a result, they may develop
                                          feelings of shame.
3 to 6
         Phallic          Initiative      Children initiate pretend play    PURPOSE
                          vs. guilt       with peers and accept
                                          responsibilities such as helping
                                          with household chores.
                                          Sometimes these activities
                                          create conflicts with others,
                                          which create guilt. Children can
                                          resolve these crises by learning
                                          to balance initiative against the
                                          demands of others.
7 to
        Latency           Industry         Children must master                     COMPE-
                          vs.              increasingly difficult skills,            TENCE
                          Inferiority      particularly social interaction
                                           with peers and academic
                                           performance. Children whose
                                           industry enables them to
                                           succeed in these areas develop
                                           a sense of mastery and self-
                                           assurance. Those who do not
                                           feel inferior and may shun new
12 to
        Genital           Identity vs. Adolescents build on all earlier FIDELITY
Years                     role         experiences to develop a sense
                          confusion    of self-identity. Failure to reach
                                           this goal may cause confusion
                                           in sexual identity, the choice of
                                           an occupation, and the roles
                                           they perform as adults.

Karen Horney
One of the few women ever discussed in the texts, Horney believed that people were more
anxious about relationships and security than about sexual conflicts. She said that we
suffer from a "basic anxiety", a feeling of helplessness in a hostile world.
Karen Horney also disagreed with Freud's theory of penis envy. She said that women are
not inferior just because they are born without a penis. Women are made to feel inferior
by society. They are made to oppress their ambitious strivings. Since women's greatest
accomplishments are her family, women come to overvalue love and also to feel a great
vulnerability for losing that love. Thus, women are afraid to grow old and unattractive and
lose the one thing they are allowed to succeed in.

Alfred Adler
Adler developed his own theory of personality called individual psychology. Adler contended
that people strive for superiority--to become the best "them" they can be. However, people
are plagued with feelings of inferiority. Some of us compensate for feelings of inferiority
by achieving something. Those people who cannot compensate for their weaknesses or
feelings of inferiority might develop what Adler called an inferiority complex- a sense of
weakness, inadequacy, and helplessness. On the other hand, some people overcompensate
for their feelings of inferiority by acting as if they are better or superior to everyone else.
This is a superiority complex.

Humanistic Psychology
Another group of theorists emerged called the humanistic psychologists. They studied
personality from the point of human potential, self-awareness, and free will. One of the
theorists, Abraham Maslow, will be discussed in the chapter on motivation and emotion.
Here we will discuss Carl Rogers.

Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers said that we all have a self-concept: the set of perceptions and beliefs we have
about ourselves. Our self-concept doesn't always match our "true self." Some of us think
too poorly or too well of ourselves. Rogers believed we have a true self, a "false self" which
we show the world, and an "idealized self" which is the us we would like to be. The more our
idealized self differs from our true self, the more likely we are to become depressed.

Rogers also developed the term "unconditional positive regard" which means that people
should be valued and loved no matter what. A child can misbehave and a parent will say,
"What you did was wrong. I love you but your behavior is bad." There is no bad value
judgement placed on the child's worth. If a parent says, "You're bad," this is a negative
value placed on the child's worth which can lead to low self-esteem and low self-worth.

Most people don't receive unconditional positive regard. Rogers created a field of therapy
called "client centered therapy" where the therapist gives the patient unconditional positive
regard so that the patient will feel safe and won't be afraid to look at the deep dark painful
places in therapy. The patient must feel like no matter what they say, the therapist will be
there for them. Rogers believed that a therapist could give a patient a "corrective"
experience to make up for the conditional regard they received in childhood.
Defense Mechanisms
         We don't all handle stress positively--sometimes we use less successful ways to deal
with stress and sometimes we use ways that help us deal with stress and we don't even know
we're doing it!

        Defense mechanisms are ways in which we all try to relieve anxiety. Although
Sigmund Freud began the development of defense mechanisms, it was his daughter, Anna
Freud, who wrote the first comprehensive study of defense mechanisms in her landmark
book The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense. In this book, Anna Freud claimed that
everyone, normal or neurotic, uses a characteristic set of defense mechanisms and that the
ego, which handles them, should be the focus of psychoanalytic treatment.

        We, of course, won't go into the complex psychodynamic explanation of defense
mechanisms. Suffice it to say that they are mostly unconscious processes that are carried
out by the ego. Unlike changing behavior or the environment, these are not deliberate
attempts. These are way of distorting reality and deceiving ourselves. We all use them.

       At each phase of our libido's development, different defense mechanisms are
evoked. Therefore, some defense mechanisms are considered more mature (and more
healthy) than others. Narcissistic defenses are the most primitive and are used by children
and psychotically disturbed people. Immature defenses are seen in adolescents and in some
non-psychotic patients. Neurotic defenses are encountered in obsessive compulsive and
hysterical patients and in adults who are under stress. And mature defense mechanisms are
normal and healthy adaptive mechanisms of adult life. These groupings are not rigid and
there may be overlapping of defenses among people in different groups. In other words,
don't rush to see a psychiatrist because you may engage in an immature or primitive defense

        Defense mechanisms help us for a little while because they let us avoid anxiety until
we are ready to handle it and deal with it but when carried to an extreme, they may pose a
risk to us. There are 33 defense mechanisms. We will not cover all of them but we will look
at some of the more common and important ones.

Narcissistic Defenses
1. Denial - the avoidance of the awareness of some painful aspects of reality by negating
   external reality. Denial may be used in both normal and pathological states.
   Ex. Denial is the biggest defense mechanism used in substance abuse and addiction: "I
   can stop anytime I want to," "It's no big deal."
         People with illnesses often use denial: a woman finds a lump in her breast and
   refuses to go to the doctor to check it out.
         An elderly woman who has recently become a widow continues to set a place at the
   table for her deceased husband.
         You think if you don't open the credit card bill, you don't owe anything (anyone
   thinks this is familiar?)

2. Distortion - external reality is grossly reshaped to suit inner needs--
   Including hallucination, delusions, etc.
   Ex. A person who is scapegoated by their family develops the delusion that the FBI is
   after them. This is because it's less anxiety provoking to believe some outside group is
   after you and wants to hurt you than your own family who is supposed to love you.
        A person who feels worthless develops the delusion that they have special powers.
   This defends against the anxiety of feeling so worthless.

3. Projection - unacceptable inner impulses are perceived and reacted to as though they
   were outside the self. On a psychotic level, it could take the form of delusions, usually
   persecutory. Projection may also be considered an immature defense.
   Ex. I think that my students think my lectures are boring but in reality, I'm the one
   who thinks they're boring. It's too anxiety provoking for me to think I'm boring so I
   perceive the feeling as coming from the students.
         I think I'm boring. While getting ready for a blind date, I keep saying, "He won't
   like me. He's going to think I'm ugly and boring". These are really my feelings but I
   project them onto the date.
         A woman is cheating on her husband. She begins to get suspicious and questions
   him when he gets home from work.

Immature Defenses
4. acting out - the person expresses an unconscious wish or impulse through action to avoid
   dealing with the feelings. Acting out involves impulsive behavior, chronically gratifying
   impulses rather than dealing with the tension that would come from postponing them.
   Ex. A teenage girl is angry with her parents and rather than discussing the problems
   with them, she runs away from home.
        A man cheats on his wife and rather than discussing and dealing with the hurt and
   pain, the woman retaliates by cheating on her husband.
        A person is unhappy with life (bored, anxious, depressed, unfulfilled, etc.) and
   rather than deal with the feelings, they use drugs or alcohol to numb the feelings and
   temporarily escape them.
       A teenage girl has a fight with her boyfriend and rather than discussing her feelings
   with him, she takes an overdose of pills to make him sorry.

5. identification - which helps to resolve the Oedipal Complex, may also be a defense
   mechanism. Identification with the loved object may serve as a defense against the
   anxiety or pain that accompanies separation from or loss of the object, whether real or
   threatened. If a person identifies with someone out of guilt, it is for self-punitive
   purposes with a quality or symptom of the person who is the source of the guilt feelings.
   The mechanism of identification with the aggressor may also be enlisted as a defense
   Ex. A teenager who is anxious because he has no sense of identity and doesn't know
   what to do with his life identifies with an athlete, or music star, or joins a gang. By
   identifying with them, he assumes an identity except it's not his own.
        A 38 year old woman whose mother always complains that she sacrificed her life to
   raise her daughter and therefore never enjoyed life, now stays home all the time and
   doesn't allow herself any pleasure. She is identifying with her mother out of guilt and is
   thus, reliving her mother's life.

6. Passive-aggressive behavior - aggression towards others is expressed indirectly
   through passivity, masochism, and turning against the self. Manifestations include
   failures, procrastination, and illnesses that affect others more than oneself.
   Ex. A student is angry at his professor because he failed a test. He comes to class late
   and slams the door when he walks in rather than expressing his anger directly.
         You're going out without your significant other and he/she is angry. When you ask,
   "Are you sure you don't mind my going out?," he/she says, "No, it's ok. You go. I'll be
   alright here…all by myself…alone. Don't worry about my cold. I'll be ok. I can always
   call an ambulance if I get worse...if I can reach the phone...well, I'm sure someone will
   hear me fall so I'll be ok. You go. You have fun."
          Your parents force you to go to law school and follow in their footsteps rather
   than let you do what you want (professional mime or something). So you go to law school
   and you purposely fail all your classes just to spite them.

7. regression - the person attempts to return to an earlier phase of functioning or
   maturity in order to avoid the tension and conflict that comes with the current level of
   maturity. Regression is also a normal phenomenon, as a certain amount of regression is
   essential for relaxation, sleep, and orgasm. It is also considered essential to creativity
   (sort of not losing your inner child).
   Ex. A woman who was sexually abused as a child becomes like a shy, frightened child
   when she is in a sexual situation
        A man with the flu lies on the couch and acts like a helpless infant.
       A grown, successful woman becomes an indecisive, inarticulate child when around
   her critical mother.
        Grown people stomp their feet when they don't get what they want.
        A couple in love engage in a snowball fight (this is healthy).

8. somatization - psychological factors are converted into bodily symptoms and the person
   tends to react with somatic manifestations, rather than psychological ones.
   Ex. A person is anxious about giving a speech in class and suddenly develops laryngitis.
        A child who is deprived of attention from his parents develops a stomachache,
   which then gets him attention.
        You're angry at someone and rather than discuss it and express it, you hold it in.
   Eventually you get a "nervous stomach".

Neurotic Defenses
9. displacement - an emotion from one idea or object is shifted to another that is similar.
   Displacement is like "taking it out on someone else."
   Ex. My boss yells at me. I can't yell back at my boss because he is powerful and I fear
   him. So I find someone less powerful than me. I go home and yell at the kids. The kids
   will then yell at each other.

10. dissociation - a temporary but drastic modification of a person's character or of one's
    sense of personal identity takes place to avoid emotional distress. Fugue states and
    hysterical conversion are common manifestations of dissociation. Dissociation is also
    seen with counterphobic behavior, dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality
    disorder), the use of drugs, and religious joy.
    Ex. A young girl is being sexually abused by her stepfather. While he is raping her, she
    psychologically "leaves her body" so that she is not aware of what is going on. Many
    young girls who were abused can tell you very specific details like how many tiles are in
    the ceiling because they were focusing so hard on them rather than what was going on in
    the bed.
         You drive to school and when you get there, you realize that your mind was on
    something else and you don't even remember the drive to school.

11. rationalization - explanations offered by a person in an attempt to justify attitudes,
    beliefs, or behavior that may otherwise be unacceptable.
    Ex. A guy asks a girl out on a date. She says no. He says, "She wasn't that pretty
    anyway. I probably wouldn't have had a good time. I'm glad she said no."
         You cheat on your diet and eat two pieces of seven-layer chocolate fudge cake.
    You then say, "It's ok, I didn't eat breakfast so it really isn't cheating."
         You listen to music filled with hate speech and when asked about it, you say,
    "Everyone listens to it. It doesn't mean anything. It's just for fun. It's just
    entertainment. I don't really think those things."
12. repression - an idea or feeling may be expelled or withheld from consciousness in
    repression. The repressed material is not really forgotten, in that symbolic behavior
    may be present.
    Ex. A woman was sexually abused when she was 8 by her uncle. Now at 23, she has no
    memory of the abuse but whenever her family gets together at her aunt and uncle's
    house, she feels very nervous and nauseous and doesn't know why.
         A person states that they "never get angry" but they are really filled with anger
    that they repress, usually out of fear of what could happen if they let it out.
          A person very uncomfortable with sex and sexuality represses any desires and
    behaves like a prude.

Mature Defenses
13. altruism - a person experiences vicarious gratification by means of doing service for
    others. This does not apply if the service to others involves detriment to the self.
    Ex. I give to charity so that I can believe I am generous.
         I want people to like me so I am always helping people and doing favors for them.

14. anticipation - realistic anticipation of or planning for future inner discomfort that is
    goal-directed and implies careful planning or worrying and premature but realistic
    feelings of potentially bad outcomes.
    Ex. I try to eat right because I am worried about getting a heart attack later in life,
    especially because it runs in my family.
         I save money for rainy days.
         I want to be financially independent so I will never have to rely on someone else to
    support me, or worry if they leave me.

15. humor - permits the overt expression of feelings and thoughts without personal
    discomfort and does not produce an unpleasant effect on others. It allows the
    person to tolerate and yet focus on what is terrible. It is different than wit, a form of
    displacement that involves distraction from the issue of feelings.
    Ex. In high school, my psychology teacher took us on a class trip to the cemetery and to
    see how they cremate people (this is a true story: my teacher was VERY strange and we
    were learning about death. Actually, Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is a very
    beautiful cemetery and looks more like Central Park. They have tours--famous people
    have mausoleums there, concerts, etc. so it really wasn't a strange trip except for the
    cremating part). Anyway, on the way to the cemetery, we were probably very nervous.
    We were about 13 and 14 years old. We made jokes the whole way there and back:
    people are dying to get in there, business must be dead, the guy who does the cremating
    has a place to warm up his lunch, etc., etc. The humor helped us get through what could
    have been a very upsetting experience.
           Look at all the jokes made about politics, the state of the world, etc. People like
    Jay Leno and David Letterman do whole monologues of jokes about serious issues in the
    world. It helps calm us down about the uncertainty of the world.
           Whenever I get to the lectures about mental illness, people laugh and make jokes.
    Most of this is a defense against the anxiety of knowing that anyone can suffer from
    these illnesses but remember, humor is only a healthy defense when it doesn't hurt

16. sublimation - impulse gratification and the retention of goals are achieved, but the aim
    or the object is altered from one that may have been socially objectionable to a socially
    acceptable one. Sublimation allows instincts to be channeled, rather than blocked or
    There is a belief that most people's career choices are guided by sublimated impulses.
    Ex. You have aggressive impulses and would like to bully people or hurt them but this is
    unacceptable in society. So you become a police officer, or a judge or a corrections
    officer or some other career where you can have aggressive power over people.
           You have sexual and/or aggressive impulses but cannot fulfill them in society. So
    you become a writer or an artist or a screenwriter/producer/director so you can write
    books or movies full of sex and violence which is not only acceptable in society but will
    make you lots of money. You can paint pictures of nude people or sacrilegious paintings
    (like the Brooklyn Museum of Art exhibits) and it's ok (except with the Mayor).
            So surgeons want to cut people open; teachers want the feeling of being an
    adolescent or dependent (in school forever); therapists are like voyeurs, etc. People
    who study serial killers…. You get the idea.
    So that's about half of all the defense mechanisms. You probably saw yourself in many
    of them. That's ok. Remember that we all use them and it's not deliberate (usually).
    Of course, these defense mechanisms can be made conscious to us and once aware of
    them, we can make the effort to not use them so much and deal with our anxiety rather
    than avoid it.

    You can also learn to spot when other people use defense mechanisms, especially
    towards you. Then instead of just reacting to the defensive behavior, you can begin to
    understand the anxiety that is lying beneath and enhance communication. Of course,
    it's very important to respect the defenses of others and ourselves. They are there to
    protect us, like bandages and scabs. To just rip them off is painful and can lead to
    worse situations. So if you do see someone using a defense, you might be better off to
    keep it to yourself. You will know that the behavior is just a cover for something else
    and you can react in a more positive way without leaving a person vulnerable and
    defenseless. Some of the best things a therapist knows remain unsaid.

Perspective 2: Learning
This is the perspective we will probably use most in this course. What follows are my
complete learning theory lectures from General Psychology.

Learning - Classical Conditioning

Unlike animals that are guided by instincts - built in patterns of behavior - humans need to
learn to live - how to get food, shelter, mate, survive. We learn to walk, talk, read, write,
play, work. Using money, having relationships, being part of a group - all takes learning.
We also learn to fear certain things and we learn how not to do things. Rewards and
punishments help us learn. Associations help us learn. Our brain is key to our learning - how
we as human beings interact with information about the world.

There are two opposing views:
1. learning is a clear-cut process that produces changes in behavior - applies to all forms
   of life - ignores mental life
2. cognitive approach - how we interact with the world and how we think is important.

Definition of learning: any relatively permanent change in behavior (or behavior potential)
produced by experience

Behavior potential means knowledge we acquire and remember without necessarily displaying
changes in how we act.

We will discuss 4 types of learning: (1) classical conditioning; (2) operant conditioning; (3)
cognitive learning; and (4) social learning theory.

Classical conditioning is about associations we make between stimuli. A stimulus is
something that causes a response. For example, a tickle causes a laugh. A shock causes us
to pull away. Food causes salivation. If a doctor hits you in the knee, your knee jerks.

        All of these responses are UNLEARNED. From now on, we will say
        UNCONDITIONED. If something is learned, then we will say it is conditioned.

        Unlearned or unconditioned responses to these stimuli are examples of reflexes -
        automatic stimulus/response pairs. Reflexes occur without thinking about it. They
        are built in. We do not need to learn them. If you shine a light into my eye, I do not
        need to learn to make my pupils constrict. They will constrict automatically.

        Pavlov was a physiologist who worked with dogs. Whenever Pavlov would bring food
        to the dogs, the dogs would salivate. This is an automatic response to an unlearned

        What Pavlov wanted to know was: can you change reflexes by learning? In other
        words, can we make the dogs salivate to something they normally wouldn't salivate
        to? A neutral stimulus.

          So what do we have so far?

        Unconditioned stimulus >>> Unconditioned response
             Food                      salivation

        So Pavlov chose a metronome (we'll say a bell) as a neutral stimulus.
Neutral stimulus >>>> response
  Bell             none

There is no response because dogs do not salivate to bells.
So Pavlov then decided to pair the bell with the food. Prior to giving the dogs the
food, Pavlov would ring the bell. After several trials, the dogs started to associate
the bell ringing with the food coming.

Neutral stimulus +++ unconditioned stimulus
   Bell               food

What do you think happened? The dogs would salivate.

Neutral stimulus + unconditioned stimulus >unconditioned response
   Bell                 food                   salivation

Of course, you have to ring the bell first, then bring the food in order to know that
the salivation isn't just coming because of the food.

After a while, Pavlov rang the bell but didn't bring out any food. What do you think

Bell >>>>> Salivation

So the dogs had learned to salivate to the bell. Now the bell is called a conditioned
stimulus because the dogs had to learn to respond to it. The salivation is called the
conditioned response. (note that the unconditioned response and the conditioned
response are the same thing).

Unconditioned stimulus >>> unconditioned response
     Food               salivation

Neutral stimulus + unconditioned stimulus
       Bell            food

Conditioned stimulus >>> conditioned response
   Bell                salivation

This will be much easier to learn if you always stick the events into this type of

US _____________ UR _____________
NS _____________

CS _____________ CR ______________
Let's do another one.

Pain (US) leads to fear (UR). We don't need to learn this.
A child is not afraid of dogs (NS).
But if a dog bites a child leading to pain, just the sight of a dog (CS) will lead to fear
The child has learned to associate dogs with pain. This is how people develop

There was a famous experiment done in the 1920's by John Watson who is
considered the Father of Behaviorism. John Watson believed that we should only
study what we can see and that is behavior. He believed that people learn the same
way animals do - without thinking. He and other behaviorists did not believe in
consciousness or feelings in regards to learning.

  In fact, Watson said, "Bring me 10 babies and through conditioning, I
  will turn them into doctors, lawyers, or thieves."

Watson wanted to establish whether the reflex response of fear produced in
infants by loud noises could be conditioned to take place in response to other
previously neutral stimuli.

Children are only born with two fears: loud noises and falling. That's it. Every
other fear is learned.

So he took an 11-month-old baby, named Albert, and conducted the famous "Little
Albert" experiment (which has been said to be very unethical). Little Albert had no
fears other than loud noises and falling.

If Watson made a loud noise (US), Little Albert would cry (UR). This is an
unconditioned stimulus-response pair.
Then they showed Albert animals - rats, rabbits, etc. and he was not afraid. He
wanted to play with them. They are neutral stimuli (NS).

Then Watson showed Albert a white rat (NS) and made a loud noise (US) and what
did Little Albert do? He cried (UR).

After a few trials of this, Watson showed Albert the white rat and didn't make the
loud noise. And what did Albert do? He cried.

So now the white rat is the conditioned stimulus and the crying is the conditioned
US             >      UR
Loud noise         crying

CS      >      CR
White rat    crying

So, Watson conditioned Albert to be afraid of white rats. He created a phobia in

There are many things we learn by association:
Do you love ice cream? Yummy.
Would you eat ice cream out of a bedpan? Even if I told you it was brand new and
sterile? Do you think the ice cream would taste the same to you? Probably not,
because you associate the bedpan with unpleasant things that do not go well with

When you hear the music in a horror movie, you know when the killer is coming
because you have learned to associate the different types of music crescendos with
the scary parts.

You smell rubbing alcohol and the fear of getting a needle at the doctor's office
begins even though there is no needle in sight.

Children cry when they see the white coat that they associate with the doctors who
cause them pain.

You get happy when you hear a song on the radio that you associate with your love.
Or you get sad or angry when you hear a song that reminds you of your ex-love.

Daddy might be a neutral stimulus but if Daddy becomes associated with pain
through abuse, then just the thought or sight of Daddy could cause fear.

You don't even have to remember the time you were conditioned. It registers in
your brain just the same.

A woman with a fear of birds and feathers didn't know why she had this fear.
Under hypnosis, she remembered that when she was little, a bird got into the house
and flew over her head scaring her. Since then she had a fear of feathers but
didn't remember the incident.

If a young girl is sexually abused in a certain bedroom, or while a certain song is
playing, or while certain words are being said to her, she can repress the abuse but
become anxious and nervous and nauseous twenty years later when she is in that
room or hears that music or hears those words.
Think about all the things in your life you have made associations with. Why do
bakeries remind us of Mom's kitchen? Why does hot chocolate make us feel comfy?

These are all examples of classical conditioning.

Now let's go back to Pavlov. After a while, Pavlov kept ringing the bell and didn't
bring food out. Eventually the dogs stopped salivating to the bell. It's as if the
dogs figured out, "Hey, there's no food coming." And stopped responding. This is
known as extinction. After a while of not pairing the neutral stimulus with the
unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned response will weaken.

So five years later, you probably won't cry when you hear the song you shared with
that boyfriend. Everyday that you hear it, it will affect you less and less. But if ten
years go by and you haven't heard the song, and all of a sudden it comes on the
radio, you may cry again. This is called spontaneous recovery.

After Pavlov's dogs no longer responded to the bell, he left them
alone. Then a month later, he rang the bell and they salivated -
 spontaneous recovery.

Now let's go back to Little Albert. Little Albert is now afraid of
white rats. Watson wanted to see if Albert would respond the same
way to SIMILAR stimuli.

So he showed Albert a white rabbit. And Albert cried.
Then he showed him a white dog. And Albert cried.
Then he showed him a white fur coat. And Albert cried.
Then he showed him a Santa Claus mask. And Albert cried.

Albert had developed a fear of everything white and furry. He had not been
conditioned to fear these things but they are similar to white rats. This is called
generalization - the response to similar stimuli.

So you get sick after you go eat McDonalds. Now the thought or smell of McDonalds
makes you feel sick. But if the smell of Wendy's or Burger King also makes you feel
sick, then you have generalized your response.

If one man hurts you but you think all men are pigs, then you have generalized your

If one person of a certain ethnic group/race hurts you and you hate all people of
that group/race, then you have generalized your hate. This is how prejudice can
But if you can tell the difference between one bad man and all other men, then you
are using discrimination. If Pavlov doesn't ring a bell but bangs a drum and the dogs
do not salivate, they are using discrimination.
Can you tell the difference between car horns of different makes of cars? That's
discrimination. Do you jump when any car horn goes off near you? That's

There are other factors that can influence conditioning.

1.   timing - the conditioning process is most effective when the CS is presented
     before the US. This is called forward pairing.

2.   Frequency - the more times you pair the CS and US, the stronger the
     association will be. However, pain and fear can be conditioned very quickly.

3.   Predictability - for most reactions, the number of times you pair the CS with
     the US is not as important as the reliability with which the CS predicts the US.

     For example, dogs were taught to jump a barrier to escape a shock. Then they
     were divided into two groups. The first group received tones that were usually
     followed by a shock. The second group received tones and shock haphazardly.
     Then all the dogs were presented with only tones but no shock. What happened?

     If they only need to occur together, then the groups should jump equally but if
     learning to jump is easier when the tone predicts the shock, then the first group
     will jump better.

     The results were that the first group had a greater tendency to jump when they
     heard the tones.

     We are more likely to develop a CR, such as a distaste for a particular food, if
     encounters with it are consistently followed by an unpleasant experience. If you
     only get sick SOMETIMES when you eat McDonalds, you probably won't learn to
     avoid it like you would if you got sick EVERYTIME you ate it.

4.   Expectation - what animals and humans learn in
     Conditioning is the expectation that a particular conditioned stimulus will be
     followed by an unconditional stimulus.

     If I tell you that you will get a shock every time you hear a tone, I can condition
     you to sweat and worry. I don't have to deliver the shock - the expectation is

     Pavlov's dogs learned to salivate to the sound of the bell because they learned
     to expect the sound to be followed by food.
     When people are going to have blood taken, they don't need the pain, just the
     smell of the alcohol, the sight of the needle.

     Former drug addicts show symptoms of withdrawal and often want drugs when
     they are exposed to people who use drugs, neighborhoods where they used
     drugs, etc. That's why it's suggested that recovering addicts move to a place
     where there is no expectation of a "high" and don't associate with people who
     they hung out with in their using days.

     It is important to remember that the stimulus elicits the response automatically
     and involuntarily. Even if you're conscious of it happening, there is no conscious
     control of the response. The CS elicits the CR; there is no choice.

5.   Predisposition - each species is predisposed by
     Heredity to learn to react to some stimuli and not to others.

     Limits to learned responses and differences in speed of learning exist. We tend
     to learn things important for survival. Animals learn to avoid water with a taste
     if followed by an illness but not to plain water because they need it to survive.
     We continue to breathe air even if it's bad air and makes us ill.

     Birds relate sickness not to taste but to visual clues. Humans learn food
     aversions if illness follows eating but not breaking bones. If you ate McDonalds
     and then broke your arm on the way out the door, you wouldn't make the
     Usually the aversion is to the food and not the setting.

Classical conditioning can also be used in reverse to undo phobias and
negative behavior.

     If you have a white rat phobia like Little Albert, it can be treated with behavior
     therapy. There are a couple of ways to treat this:
     1. flooding - we could throw Albert into a pit filled with white rats and when
         they didn't kill him, he would see he had nothing to be afraid of.

     Now you're laughing but think about this: ever see a kid who is afraid of the
     water and their parents throw him in? The parents are thinking that once he's
     in the water, he'll see there is nothing to be afraid of. Well, that's flooding.
     Afraid of flying? Well, if you just get on that plane and fly to Hawaii, you've
     just flooded yourself. It does work. But there is a kinder way.

     2.   systematic desensitization - gradual exposure to the thing that is feared.
          So if you are afraid of rats, I would have to think about rats, then look at
          pictures, then tell you one is in the next room, then one is in a box under my
          desk, then show you one, then put it near you, then have you touch it, then
          hold it until you were no longer afraid.
            This is very successful. The woman with the fear of feathers mentioned before,
            overcame her fear of thirty seven years after just 45 minutes of behavioral

            Aversive conditioning - this is a method used to get people to stop unwanted
            behavior. If you bite your nails, there is nail polish you can buy that tastes
            horrible. The idea is you will associate the nasty taste with biting your nails and
            you will no longer bite your nails.

            There is also a medicine that makes you very ill if you drink alcohol. The intent
            is to get you to stop drinking. Problem is, people just stop taking the pill.

            But again, want to lose weight? Would you eat less if all your meals were served
            in bedpans? Even clean ones? Hey, this could make money !


Operant Conditioning

Classical conditioning changes reflexes but there are other forms of behavior - ones not
necessarily due to any stimulus but self-generated.

Instead of the environment acting on the organism, the organism acts on the environment.

Operant behavior - is behavior that can be modified through learning or operant

B.F. Skinner was a writer turned psychologist who wondered why children couldn't be
trained to learn much the same way that animals are. Skinner developed the "Skinner Box",
a box which had a lever that a rat could press and receive a pellet of food. After pressing
the lever and receiving food, the rat continues to press the lever.

The behavior (pressing lever) had a rewarding or reinforcing result (food).

Rule: operant behavior that is reinforced will be repeated and operant behavior that is not
reinforced is abandoned.

Operant conditioning is subject to all the influencing factors you learned about in classical
conditioning: extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, discrimination, timing,
frequency, expectation, and predictability. You may need to go back to that lecture to
review these factors.

Shaping - method of teaching complex behaviors by reinforcing each step of the behavior
until the complex behavior is achieved.
For example, when a child is learning to tie their shoelaces, parents don't usually wait until
the child ties a perfect bow to praise him. He get praised the first time he tries, the first
time he crosses the laces, the first time he makes the loops, etc.

Just like school. Imagine if you never received any reinforcements until you got handed
your degree. Where would your motivation come from? But you get grades, honors, awards,
etc. all along the way.

There are two types of reinforcers:
1. primary reinforcers - food, water, safety. These work especially well with animals but
    can also work with humans.
2. Secondary reinforcers - less tangible rewards such as praise, money, acceptance,

The most effective reinforcements are attention getting and out of the ordinary.

Timing - immediate reinforcement or punishment gets the quickest results. If your child
breaks curfew and you punish him three weeks later, he probably won't learn anything. If
you yell at a dog two hours after he disobeys or worse, after he finally listens to you, he
won't make the connection between the behavior and the reinforcement. Similarly, if you
do a good job at work, you should be praised right away, not two weeks later.

Constant vs. Partial Reinforcement:
If I give my dog, Poochie, a biscuit every time she catches a ball, she will learn to catch the
ball much quicker than if I give her a biscuit every once in a while. Constant reinforcement
works much faster than partial reinforcement.

However, if I give Poochie a biscuit every time she catches the ball and then I stop
rewarding her, she will stop catching the ball very quickly. But if I had been rewarding her
every so often and then stopped, she wouldn't be sure if I had stopped or if this was just
one of those times when she wouldn't get a biscuit. So she'll keep catching the ball for a
longer time.

In other words, constant reinforcement may lead to quicker learning but it also becomes
extinct faster. Partial reinforcement lasts much longer. That is how slot machines work.
If you knew that every 10 quarters, a jackpot would happen, you would leave after your 11 th
quarter if you didn't win. But because you never know when the jackpot will hit, you stand
there and spend all your money.

Being consistent is important. If you discipline your child for a behavior one day and let him
get away with it the next day, he will not learn anything and will become confused and

There are two types of partial reinforcement:
1.   ratio schedules - reinforcement is delivered only after the subject responds correctly
     a certain number of times
2.   interval schedules - reinforcement is delivered only after a certain period of time has

These types of reinforcement can be either fixed or variable.

Fixed ratio - you will get paid after you sell 10 outfits.

Variable ratio - you will get paid after you sell 10 outfits one time, then after 3 outfits,
then after 8 outfits, etc.

Fixed interval - you will get paid every two weeks

Variable interval - you get paid whenever your boss feels like paying you


Reinforcement and Punishment
Reinforcement or rewards always increase a behavior.
Punishment always decreases a behavior.
If you remember that, you won't get confused.

TYPE                     WHAT YOU DO              WHAT HAPPENS            EXAMPLE
POSITIVE                 ADD SOMETHING            BEHAVIOR                PRAISE, MONEY,
REINFORCEMENT            PLEASANT                 INCREASES               AFFECTION
NEGATIVE                 REMOVE                   BEHAVIOR                TAKE AWAY PAIN,
REINFORCEMENT            SOMETHING                INCREASES               SAVE MONEY, NO
                         UNPLEASANT                                       HOMEWORK
PUNISHMENT               EITHER ADD               BEHAVIOR                NO TV,
                         SOMETHING                DECREASES               GROUNDING,
                         UNPLEASANT OR                                    FINES, PRISON,
                         REMOVE                                           PHYSICAL
                         SOMETHING                                        DISCIPLINE

Now it is important to remember:
1.  Ask yourself did the behavior decrease or increase? As soon as you say increase,
    you're looking at reinforcement. If you say decrease, you're looking at punishment.
2. Ask yourself: did I add something good, remove something bad, add something bad, or
    remove something good?
3. Just because negative reinforcement has the word "negative" in it, doesn't mean it's a
    bad thing. You are removing something unpleasant. That's a good thing. That is a
    reward. It is NOT punishment.
So let's try some examples. See if you can figure out what the following situations are
examples of:

1.   Wendy gets $5 for every A she makes on her report card.
2.   If Bobby gets an A in history, he doesn't have to wash dishes for a month.
3.   Julissa hugs Stephen whenever he brings her flowers.
4.   Kevin doesn't say "thank you" when someone holds the door open for him.
5.   Karolyn is late for her date with Jim and so Karolyn's parents show Jim slides from the
     family vacation for three hours.
6.   Robert get a ticket for speeding.
7.   Cindi is throwing a temper tantrum and Mom gives her some ice cream to shut her up.
8.   Erik's parents hit him when he gets into trouble at school.

  Ok, ready to go over these?
1.   If Wendy gets money (something good) for getting A's, she will study more = positive
2. If Bobby gets an A, he won't have to do dishes (removing something unpleasant) =
     negative reinforcement.
3. Julissa hugs (adds something good) Stephen so he will continue to buy her flowers =
     positive reinforcement.
4. Kevin doesn't say thank you (removing something good) so people will be less inclined to
     hold doors open for people = punishment
5. Karolyn is late so Jim has to watch family movies (something bad) and will probably
     never show up early or on time again = punishment
6. Getting a speeding ticket (something bad) - punishment
7. Getting ice cream (something good) guarantees that Cindi will shut up now but her
     temper tantrum behavior will be strengthened for next time - positive reinforcement
8. Erik gets hit (something bad) so punishment, right? Well, maybe and maybe not.

First let's go back to #4 and #7 which are good examples of how we sometimes punish good
behavior and reward bad behavior.

When people hold the door for us, they are doing a nice thing. If we say thanks, they feel
rewarded and are more likely to hold the door for someone else at another time. But if we
don't say thanks, that is punishment. We make the person feel unappreciated for their
good behavior and they will be less likely to hold the door next time.

Whenever someone is being rude to you and you are nice to them, you are reinforcing their
bad behavior. If your boyfriend is yelling at you and you try to soothe him and kiss him, you
have just rewarded and reinforced his abusive behavior.

When a child has a temper tantrum, that is bad behavior. Giving them ice cream is a reward
so while they may shut up now, they know because you have taught them that if they want to
get their way, all they need to do is scream because they know that eventually you will give
So what should you do? You say no. And when they beg, you say, "I said no. I'm not going
to say it again." And then you don't. Ignore them or say (once), "If you don't stop, you
won't get.…." Then they have a choice and they know the consequences of continuing that
tantrum. The reason you only say it once is because if you get into an "I said no" fifty times
battle, they have been rewarded with your attention and your frustration and they will
continue. They need to get NO reward for this tantrum. HOWEVER, when they do stop the
tantrum, reward them right away to reinforce the good behavior. They will soon learn that
they can get what they want quicker with good behavior than with bad (as long as that's
what you teach them).

Now #8 seemed simple, didn't it? Well, it could be simple punishment if Erik stops
whatever bad behavior got him into trouble. But for some kids who get no attention, getting
punished also means their parents are finally interacting with them and then punishment
becomes a reward. Bad attention is better than no attention.

We all hate the silent treatment. We would rather be yelled at because at least there is an
interaction going on.

Parents need to catch their kids doing something good. Parents rarely praise their kids for
good things but are quick to yell when they are bad. Adults do this to each other also.
When's the last time you thanked your spouse for helping to wash the dishes or for doing
something nice for you? When's the last time you yelled at a loved one for not living up to
your expectations?

If only we would reward even the smallest gestures (helping you on with your coat, opening
doors, carrying a bag, picking up the milk, etc.), we would get our spouses or whoever to do
so much more for us. You want your man to open car doors for you, lavish him with praise,
"You are such a gentleman. There are so few men these days who have any manners. I am
so lucky to have found a guy like you."

Ok, I know how that sounds but next time you get near that car, he'll be opening the door
again. And you need to praise again (not always lavishly: a smile, a wink, a kiss). And yes
men, this works on us women too. "I am so lucky to have a girlfriend who is secure enough to
not get all jealous and suspicious when I go out with the guys. The other guys' girls are all
so insecure and clingy. Man, did I get lucky to find you!"

I once told a man I knew for awhile (that I liked as a friend but didn't want to go out with),
"You know what I love about you? That you're the only guy around here who doesn't act like
a pig and come on to me. You treat me with respect. I can trust you because I know you are
my friend." He stayed my best friend and never tried anything. Does this sound
manipulative? Nah, it's simply operant conditioning.

Hospital units, especially adolescent and child units, use what is called token economy
environments. Patients earn points for good behavior which can be traded in for privileges.
They lose points for bad behavior. This is called behavior modification.
You can use this on yourself. Choose a behavior you would like to change: lose weight, stop
smoking, study more, etc.
Then make a chart where you decide what your daily or weekly goal will be, i.e. lose 2 pounds
per week, go a day without cheating, go a day without smoking, etc. Then decide what your
reward will be for accomplishing this and what the punishment is for not accomplishing it
and stick to it. Have the rewards get better the further you go in your behavior
modification plan. Make sure the punishments matter. Keep track of your progress in a
journal. If you decide to try it, let us know how it goes.

Let's talk about punishment. It's supposed to decrease behavior.

It works best when:
1.   it's consistent
2. it's immediate
3. it's followed by reward for good behavior
4. it's fair
5. it's respectful (don't yell at kids in front of their friends)
6. it has been warned about: if you tell your kid, 'If you come home after curfew, this will
     be your punishment…." Then the choice is up to them. They can't blame you because
     you warned them and they made the choice.

Punishment doesn't always work. Why?
1.   sometimes there is a conflict between reward and punishment. I might get punished if
     I come home after curfew but if I'm having a really good time, it might be worth it.
2. We learn to avoid punishment. Speeders get radar detectors. We learn how not to get
3. Some people just don't care about punishment. Sending a kid to his room isn't
     punishment if he's got a TV, a Playstation, a computer, a stereo, etc. You have to
     choose a punishment you know the kid or whoever will care about.
4. As mentioned before, sometimes punishment is a reward. Not just for kids. There are
     people who will get themselves locked up in jail (which should be punishment) because
     they get shelter, food, or they can't handle it on the street (so now it's a reward).
5. Sometimes punishment just makes people angrier, like prison.

One final thing:
Let's say you take a test in your psychology class and you fail. So you study even harder for
the next one and you fail. You study even harder for the third one and you still fail. How
hard do you think you'll study for the final? Probably not much at all.

This is what is called learned helplessness - when you feel like whatever you do won't make
a difference so you give up trying.
You see this in depression, in battered wives, in inner city poor children, in abused children,
and in failing students.

If no matter what you do to make your parents happy doesn't work and they beat you
anyway, eventually you just accept the abuse. No matter how you try to fix your life, things
don't work out so you stop trying. A thousand diets and you still can't lose weight, you stop
trying. Been through detox thirty times, you start to think you'll never get clean.

Seligman discovered learned helplessness when he put dogs (I hate these animal
experiments) in a cage where the floor would deliver shock. If the dogs jumped to the
other side of the cage to escape the shock but then that side shocked them too, they would
jump back and forth but after awhile when they couldn't find a safe place, they would just
lie down and take the shock.

Animals caged for too long won't try to escape when you open the cage door. They have
given up the idea of freedom.

How do you fix this? In therapy, people can learn to empower themselves. To understand
that they can make a difference in their lives and that they have to keep trying because
only they have the power to do it. It's harder than it sounds and it takes a long time but it
can work.

Cognitive Learning

For a long time, the behaviorist view dominated. They thought of all human behavior as
conditioning by events in the environment. Not much difference between us humans and a
rat. But it didn't take into account our perceptions and thoughts about events. There is a
more contemporary view - one where we are actively interacting with the environment. This
theory is called cognitive learning.

In the 1920's Koehler wanted to see if chimps could get a banana hidden or out of reach.
The chimps were able to develop strategies. They jumped and couldn't reach the banana.
They looked around and found a stick and tried to hit the banana but still couldn't reach.
Then they found a box and stood on it. When that wasn't enough, they stacked two boxes
and used the stick to knock the banana down. They figured it out. They were thinking. This
type of learning goes beyond stimulus-response connections. It is called insight or cognition.
The "aha principle" is that moment when you realize how to solve a problem.

Social Learning Theory or Observational Learning:

One of the most influential ways we learn is simply by watching other people. We watch our
parents and we imitate them. We learn to talk like that. We learn how to hit a baseball, tie
our shoes, dance, etc. We then watch and imitate other people as we get older: peers,
teachers, celebrities, politicians, athletes, etc. Some of the people we watch and imitate
model good things for us. Some, unfortunately, don't.

Albert Bandura wanted to see just how much kids observe and imitate what they see. In
Bandura's classic experiment, he had children paired with adults and placed them in
individual playrooms. The child would sit at a table and merely observe the behavior of the
adult. There was no interaction. The child did not play, just watched.
In one room, the adult played nicely. In a second room, the adult yelled and showed verbal
aggression toward a doll. In the third room, the adult showed physical aggression toward a
doll and hit it with a hammer.
Then the children were placed in a huge playroom with every toy imaginable. With no
encouragement, the child who had witnessed the adult playing nicely played with the toys
nicely. The child who witnessed verbal aggression yelled at the toys and at the other
children. The child who witnessed physical aggression hit the doll and the other children.
This showed that not only did the children imitate the behavior they witnessed, but that
they did not need to engage in it to copy it and that they expanded on it in that they didn't
just react toward the doll but toward other children as well.

Isn't that remarkable?

Kids are always watching us so it's very important to monitor what we are saying and doing
in front of them. If a child uses bad language, it's pretty likely someone at home is using
that language. And then the kid gets punished !!! For copying what the adult did. We
cannot tell our kids to do one thing or not do something and then model inappropriate

We can't tell them not to lie and then lie in front of them, even if it's telling the person
who answered the phone that you're not home.

We can't tell them not to use bad language and then use it in front of them or expose them
to it in movies and music.

We can't tell them not to smoke, drink, or use drugs and then do this in front of them.

They watch everything we do: how we talk, how we fight, how we speak to other people,
whether we are rude or polite, whether we are generous or selfish, whether we help others
or don't, etc. You may think your kids aren't watching you. You think they're in their room
or watching TV but kids see and hear everything. I mean everything.

So if you show them that the way to solve a problem with a spouse is to curse and scream or
even to hit, they will learn that this is how to resolve conflict and they will do it.
But if you teach them and show them that the way to solve a problem is to discuss it with
respect, then they will learn to resolve problems this way.

Put it this way: everything you would like your child to be, you must be.
If a child grows up in a violent home where the husband beats the wife (it could be the
other way around but it's usually this way), what will he learn by watching?

He will learn that:
1.  yelling and hitting is the way to treat women
2. men should take control of women
3. women do not deserve respect (not just because they see Dad not giving Mom respect
    but because they do not see Mom demanding respect for herself)
4. women are victims
5. love and violence go together

He will also see Dad's violence reinforced and rewarded as Mom goes out of her way to
please him and as he gets respect (out of fear, but still). The child will not get to see Dad
punished for his bad behavior.

People whose parents fought and got divorced often repeat their parents' marriage,
mistakes and all. Many substance abusers will tell you how they watched their parents
smoke, drink and use drugs and often offered them some at a very early age.

There is a book called "Change your child's behavior by changing your own" by Sal Severe,
Ph.D. It is important to pay attention to how you model behavior to your child and to other
children. As a teacher, I am a role model (whether I like it or not) to every student I come
into contact with. I don't see it as a burden that I have to watch my step all of the time. I
see it as an opportunity to show students so many things:
That you can come from poverty and make something of yourself.

That you can come from a dysfunctional family and not repeat all of the dysfunction.

That not all teachers are boring, mean, too intellectual, etc. One of my students last
semester wrote in an essay, "The most important thing I learned this semester is that not
all professors are snobs." That meant more to me than any of the psychology terms he
might have learned.

That working hard is rewarding.

That it's possible to have a conversation without obscenities.

That being polite and respectful doesn't hurt or ruin your fun.

That learning can be fun.

And on and on.

Ok, so we know parents, teachers, siblings, etc. are important role models. How many of you
older siblings have heard your parents say, "You have to set a good example for your
younger brother/sister"?
Now how about other role models? We have all heard the controversies about violence and
sex on TV, in movies, and in music. What about the behavior of celebrities who are in the
public eye and are role models whether they like it or not? Charles Barkley said once,
"Don't look to me for a role model." His comment was misinterpreted as meaning that he
didn't care about kids. But he meant that kids should look to better people than athletes
for their heroes. Now I don't know how old any of you are but even before I was born
(which wasn't that long ago), heroes were presidents, astronauts, policemen. Now heroes
are singers, actors, athletes, even criminals (these categories are not mutually exclusive).

If I was caught using or selling drugs this weekend, I could guarantee you that I would not
be teaching at my job next semester. I would be fired. But if I were a celebrity, my arrest
for drugs or for gun possession or for shooting somebody or for beating my spouse, etc.
wouldn't stop me from recording another CD or filming the next episode of my TV show. In
fact, celebrities who are arrested or accused of drug possession, drug selling, or violent
crimes receive standing ovations from fellow celebrities at awards ceremonies (i.e. Robert
Downey, Jr. at the Golden Globe Awards). Standing ovations are not about support; they
are meant to honor someone. Is that right?

A few years ago, Former President Clinton taught kids a lesson. While I believe his affair is
his own business and it shouldn't have been made public, once it was public he should have
not said that oral sex is not sex. Right now, seventh graders are having oral sex all the
time. Pre-teens and teens consider it equivalent to a kiss goodnight. And when you ask kids
about it, they say, "Oral sex isn't sex". How sad! Oral sex is more intimate than sexual
intercourse or at least, I think it is. If kids think it's nothing then imagine: at the rate pre-
teens and teens change boyfriends and girlfriends, how many people are they having oral sex

If I got started with music lyrics, I would use up all the memory on the computer. Let me
just say that we don't need to hear songs that talk about killing your wife in front of your
child. Do you know how many kids witness domestic violence and the effects of that? We
will discuss that in the child abuse lecture. We don't need music that encourages people to
drop out of school, do drugs, rob stores, beat up homosexuals, or hurt women. We have
enough violence in the world without encouraging more. We don't need music that insults
and encourages violence against women, homosexuals, or any racial/ethnic group. That is not

And while I'm on music, it isn't just about violence. We'll talk more about that soon. But
here's a word for you: misogyny. It means hatred of women. And music is full of it. If
songs call women "hos" or "bitch", you can say it's just music but listen in the street and
notice how many times you hear guys referring to girls that way, even their own girlfriends.
And worse, you will see all the girls who let other people talk to them that way. It's not
just disrespectful. It promotes the idea that women are not important or valuable. Women
are paraded in many music videos or on stage half-naked. "Remaking your image" seems to
now mean "taking off more clothes." One December a few years ago, I'm watching the
Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. Destiny's Child sings. They are outside. It's 3 degrees
and raining. They are all half-dressed. Tara Lipinski is ice-skating, half-dressed. Then 98
Degrees comes out to sing. They are wearing turtlenecks, coats, hats, scarves, and gloves.
What's the message? That female performers must show their bodies to be popular and
successful but guys don't? Don't people go to hear them sing?

And so our young girls think that they must dress like that to be popular and get attention.

Watch TV shows aimed at teenagers or read their magazines. All you see are size 2 or less
beautiful girls. Our girls think they need to look like this to be accepted and so girls are
getting eating disorders more than ever. In Figi, they had no television and they had no
crime rate and no eating disorders. Then they got TV and they suddenly had crime and
eating disorders. Recently they made a television show that say stars a "plus-size" woman.
Do you know what size she is? She wears an 8 or 10. Now I don't know about you but I
don't consider that "plus-size." Size 8 or 10 is not the average American woman's size.
Size 14 is more the average American woman's size.

And all the girls and guys on those shows drink (even though they are way under 21) and
they all have sex. So again our teens think this is what they should be doing. In fact, kids
get the impression (and it's an inaccurate one) that this is what all their peers are doing and
so they think they should be doing it as well.

Where are the role models who show that you don't have to be skinny, that you don't have
to be perfect, that you don't have to smoke, drink, or do drugs, that you don't have to have

If there is ever a character like that on a show, they are either the nerd or every episode
will build up to changing them (i.e. the "virgin" who will probably lose her virginity for the
season finale).

Can you tell this is a subject I care about very, very much???

You can laugh. But I love 7th Heaven. The kids may be goody-goody (although lately, they've
been getting into some trouble) but they are the kids I'd want to have and I watch trying to
pick up parenting tips. Also the Cosby Show and Sister, Sister. There are a few good shows
but not enough. On a recent Dawson's Creek episode, when the main female character
didn't want to "go all the way," she said to her boyfriend, "There are other things we can
do," as she moved her head down his pants. Is that what we should be modeling for the
teen girls who watch this show: that you can have oral sex and still be a virgin??

And so now we come to violence:

As we mentioned before in Bandura's study, people don't have to do the behavior to learn
it; just watch it.
We know that you can't watch TV without sex and violence. It sells. But here are some
TV is the major source of observational learning. Why? Because TV often baby-sits or
parents the children. Pre-school kids watch 3-4 hours of TV per day, unsupervised and this
number increases as they get older.

In the movie "Money Train" there was a scene where a token booth clerk was set on fire.
Within a day of the movie opening, someone set a token booth clerk on fire.

When a teen killer was asked where he got the idea for his violent act, he said he saw it in a

Kids watch cartoons and they see violence. Cartoon characters (especially Coyote and Road
Runner) get blown up, shot, run over, etc. and in the next scene, they are fine.

There have been kids who have jumped off the roof wearing a cape pretending to be
Superman and they have died.

Several kids have gotten hurt recently by trying to imitate the dangerous stunts they see
on MTV's "Jackass." One young boy set himself on fire and suffered 3 rd degree burns all
over his body. Since the movie came out, several more children have been seriously injured.

A few years ago, an 11 year old was convicted of first-degree murder for "body slamming"
his infant nephew. He said he was imitating the moves he saw watching extreme wrestling,
something he watched and his parents knew about it.

I saw an episode of Pepe LePew. You know, the skunk that chases after the cat because he
thinks she's a skunk and she tries to get away. Well, in one scene she goes to jump out the
window and he says, "Oh, you are committing suicide for me. You must really love me to kill
yourself for me." This is for kids???????

Even "Romeo and Juliet" has its dangers. When teachers teach it, they shouldn't stress the
romance. They should stress that two teens are dead and for what? I tell young girls that
they should never kill themselves over a guy because by that weekend, they'll be dead and
he'll be dating someone else.

Olive Oyl is a manipulative woman who toys with the affections of two men and chooses the
more violent one.

Watching 2-4 hours of TV per day, a child will see about 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent
acts by the time they are out of elementary school (and hopefully, none in real life). But
even if they do see violence in real life, it won't look like it does on TV.

1.   Violence is glamorized on TV. The bad guys have all the women, all the money, all the
     jewelry, all the cars, etc. The good guys are geeks.
2.   You rarely see the bad guys penalized for violence. They either get shot (and then
     they are the victims) or if they get arrested (and the cops look like the bad guys), you
     don't see the punishment.
3.   You don't see remorse for crimes, criticism or penalties.
4.   Violence sells.

Children and adults who view violence show increased aggression levels. How does this
1.   observational learning - the media provides scripts for people, they learn aggressive
     skills: if you don't know how to handle the bully in school, just do what the kid in the
     movie did, etc.

Think about it: if you're failing a class, how did violence get to be an option for solving that
problem???? But if you watch movies like "Teaching Miss Tingle", it does. Now I saw that
movie and I laughed but just because it's entertaining, doesn't mean it can't also be

2.   The media disinhibits aggressive behavior especially if rewarded or the person gets
     away with it. The bad guys in movies are often rewarded or get away with it. And
     while we're on this one, who is the good guy and who is the bad guy? You can't tell
     anymore. The cops used to be the good guys and the criminals were the bad guys but
     not anymore. Now the cops are bad guys, the drug dealers are good guys, the hero is
     whoever shoots the most bullets and still walks away.
3.   Watching aggressive movies or TV or listening to music increases our arousal and then
     what do we do with it? If listening to the right music or watching a porno movie can
     get you all worked up for sex, what makes you think it can't work that way for
     violence? It does.
4.   Violent media primes aggressive ideas and memories.
5.   People who watch violent movies and TV may get reinforcement and make positive
     associations. Say you are watching Friday the 13 th, Part 89 with your girlfriend. Just
     when Jason comes to kill the teen couple having sex in the log cabin and what happens?
     Your girlfriend screams and cuddles up to you (reward). You laugh at the movie
     (reward). You start to associate violence with love, laughter, popcorn, dating, etc. And
     you get to watch your violent side come out as you yell, "Chop his head off."
6.   Violent TV and movies desensitize us to violence. We are not appalled by all the
     violence in the world. Someone gets shot. So what? Every day, there are least 5
     murders in the newspaper. It doesn't get to us anymore. We need something more.
     So now America is very into serial killers because it's not just murder but repeated
     very sick murders, with heads cut off and cannibalism. Kids are not scared by the
     violence anymore and they should be.

So am I promoting censorship? Certainly not. Anyone who knows me knows I love violent TV
and movies (not music; I think music should be romantic or soul-searching or dance-able or
even head-banging but definitely not full of profanity). I study serial killers but I am not
enamored of them. I want to understand how people could be so violent but the serial
killers are not my heroes. My friends think I love them. They say, "Oh, I saw a show with
Charles Manson and thought of you." Thanks. So I joke about it too and I've taken
profiling classes so I love reading about that stuff but I don't love that it happens. I just
get into the intellectualism of it. And I defend the right for people to have freedom of
speech and all that but people abuse and manipulate that amendment just to make money or
trouble. People should have the right to say what they want (but remember, that includes
the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan groups, etc. EVERYONE gets the right) but who is monitoring what
our kids watch? What we watch is one thing; we are adults. We should know right from
wrong, fantasy from reality but kids aren't clear about that difference--not until way after
adolescence sometimes.

My students were shocked that I didn't have HBO. Apparently, I was missing all the good
stuff like the Sopranos and Oz. So I got it. Well, I hated the Sopranos (am I the only
person in the world who doesn't like it?). It was filled with profanity and poor examples for
kids. It glamorized violence and made the criminals sympathetic heroes. And don't think
that therapy is like you see on that show because it isn't.

Then I watched Oz. I was shocked. My mouth was wide open the whole time. I covered my
dog's eyes. Blatant sex scenes, horrible language. I understand it is prison but come on….
I watched it to the end. I may watch it again. But I would never let a kid watch either

But no, I don't believe in censorship. What I believe in is monitoring what your kids watch.
Too many kids are not supervised. TV's should not be in their bedrooms. Neither should
computers that have the Internet. V-chips are not that complicated. Your kid who can't
spell to save his life will figure out how to disable that V-chip in record time.

Or how about watching TV with your kids and discussing it: what did you think about how
that kid resolved the problem with his friend? How would you have done it? Do you think
he was right or wrong to hit him? Where are the families who sit down together to watch

Violent video games are another topic. Is it necessary to play at killing people? Every
school shooter played violent video games. One shooter had a game where you could scan
pictures into the game so that the target could look like your mother if you wanted it to.
He cut out 8 pictures from the yearbook. He practiced on the game. Then having never
shot a real gun before, he went to school and fired 8 shots. Just 8 shots and he shot all 8
people he had practiced shooting on the game. 5 shot in the head and 3 shot in the chest.
No SWAT team member has that kind of accuracy.

In fact, studies show that kids who play these video games have better shooting accuracy
than police officers. This does not comfort me.

So should we worry about all kids? No. It's a minority of kids who watch or listen to violent
media who then go out and hurt someone. But don't we have to worry about the minority?
Shouldn't we worry if it's just one - because that might be the one who is at our kids'
Violent media has the greatest impact on kids who are already aggressive.
Kids who are aggressive watch more violent TV, movies and videos. Face it, aggressive kids
are not watching 7th Heaven.

Kids who watch aggressive programming have been shown to be more aggressive.

But kids who are aggressive, and who are rejected (think Jonesboro, Columbine, etc), or who
are physically disciplined/abused are most likely to do violent things.

The people who market the movies, TV shows, music and video games say they are not
marketing to the kids. They are marketing to the adults. Yeah, right! Well, a study
developed by Former President Clinton showed that the advertisers and marketers were, in
fact, marketing to kids. Like using cartoon characters to sell cigarettes. Like a 45 year old
man is going to choose a cigarette because of the cute cartoon character.

If you are interested in this subject, there are several good books you can read:
 Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their Children about Violence by Dominic
 See No Evil: a Guide to Protecting Our Children from Media Violence by Madeline
 Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill by Lt. Col. Grossman
 Or check out this link to the National Coalition on TV Violence

This concludes the four types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning,
cognitive learning and social learning (observational) theory.
They all work together in our everyday lives.

By the way, if you want to read any of the original articles by Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, or
Bandura, you can find them at the link: Classics in the History of Psychology.


Perspective 3: Cognitive
The cognitive perspective focuses on thought processes and the behavior that stems from
those processes. We will be discussing Piaget's cognitive theory of development in detail
later so I'm not doing it here. We will also look at information processing, intelligence and


Perspective 4: Sociobiological
Biology is an important part of development. We will often talk about genetics, hormones
and the brain. You should definitely review whatever biology you learned in General
We will cover a lot of material from this perspective in the next lecture that will include
some genetics, prenatal care, and physical development. This spans several chapters in the
book but we are going to do an overview because, as I've said before, I prefer to focus on
the psychology parts.
We also compare some child development with that of the animal kingdom. Ethology is
important. A lot of what we know about humans comes from what was learned about
animals, especially Darwin's theories such as survival of the fittest. Thus, we will also look
at evolutionary theory at times to see how we develop certain traits and behaviors in order
to adapt to the ever-changing environment.

Perspective 5: Contextual
No one lives in a vacuum and so we always have to look at the context in which we are
studying anything. Bronfenbrenner talks about five interlocking contextual systems, from
the most intimate to the broadest: the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem,
and chronosystem.
Basically we will be looking at the environment of children from as close as their homes and
families and schools to their neighborhoods to their state to their country to their culture
to their place in time. Sociocultural theory stresses children's interactions with their
As we have said, no one perspective is the "ultimate answer." We will use all of the
perspectives in our exploration of child development. Sometimes we will use one more than
another depending what topic we are talking about. Knowing these perspectives is the basic
foundation of understanding any discipline of psychology.

Lecture written by Rhea Parsons, M.D. - 2008

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