The third and final internal factor in self-regulation is self-reaction. People respond positively or negatively to their behaviors depending on how these behaviors measure up to their personal standards. That is, people create incentives for their own actions through self-reinforcement or self-punishment. For example, a diligent student who has completed a reading assignment may reward herself by watching her favorite television program.
Self-reinforcement does not rest on the fact that it immediately follows a response: Rather, it relies in large part on the use of our cognitive ability to mediate the consequences of behavior. People set standards for performance that, when met, tend to regulate behavior by such self-produced rewards as pride and self-satisfaction. When people fail to meet their standards, their behavior is followed by self-dissatisfaction or self-criticism.
This concept of self-mediated consequences is a sharp contrast to Skinner s notion that the consequences of behavior are environmentally determined. Bandura hypothesizes that people work to attam rewards and to avoid punishments according to self-erected standards. Even when rewards are tangible, they are often accompanied by self-mediated intangible incentives such as a sense of accomplishment. The Nobel Prize, for example, carries a substantial cash award, but its greater value to most recipients must be the feeling of pride or self-satisfaction in performing the tasks that led to the award.
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