General Prediction Formula

The basic prediction formula is lhnited to highly controlled situations where expectancies, reinforcement value, and the psychological situation are all relatively shnple and discrete. In most situations, however, prediction of behavior is much more complex because behaviors and reinforcements usually occur in functionally related sequences. Consider again the case of La Juan, the gifted student who was having difficulty staying awake in a dull and boring class. The basic prediction formula offers some indication of the likelihood that, in the specific situation of a boring lecture, La Juan will rest her head on her desk. However, a more generalized prediction formula is needed to predict her need potential for gaining the recognition-status that comes from graduating with highest honors. La Juan's likelihood of satisfying this need depends on a complex of behaviors. To make generalized predictions regardhig a set of behaviors designed to satisfy needs, Rotter introduced this general prediction formula:

This equation means that need potential (NP) is a function of freedom of movement (FM) and need value (NV). The formula is analogous to the basic prediction formula, and each factor is parallel to the corresponding factors of that basic formula. To illustrate the general prediction formula, we can look at La Juan's situation with regard to her future academic work. To predict her need potential for workhig toward graduation with highest honors, we must measure her freedom of movement, that is, her mean expectancy of being reinforced for a series of behaviors necessary to reach her goal, plus her need value of all those reinforcements: that is, the value she places on recognition-status or any other need she associates with receiving academic honors. The value La Juan places on recognition-status (need

17. Rotter and Mischel: Cognitive Social Learning Theory

┬ęThe McGraw-Hill Companies, 2005

Chapter 17 Rotter and Mischel: Cognitive Social Learning Theory 511

Basic prediction formula


Potential for La Juan to rest her head in the classroom is a her expectancy that this function behavior will be followed of by sleep her need for sleep in this situation.

General prediction formula


Potential for La Juan completing all those behaviors necessary to receive a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and thereby satisfy her need for recognition-status is a function of her average expectancy that a set of related behaviors directed toward recognition-status will be reinforced

her preference for good grades, prestige, reputation, acceptance by colleagues, praise from professors, and other reinforcements related to recognition-status.

FIGURE 17.1 Comparison of the basic prediction formula and the general prediction formula.

value), plus her average expectancy of being reinforced for performing the required series of behaviors (freedom of movement), equals her potential for pursuing the set of required behaviors (need potential). A comparison of the basic (specific) prediction formula and the generalized prediction formula is shown in Figure 17.1.

Rotter s general prediction formula allows for people s history of using similar experiences to anticipate present reinforcement. That is, they have a generalized expectancy for success. Rotter s two most popular scales for measuring generalized expectancies are the Internal-External Control Scale and the Interpersonal Trust Scale.

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