Triadic Reciprocal Causation

In Chapter 15, we saw that Skinner believed that behavior is a function of the environment; that is, behavior ultimately can be traced to forces outside the person. As environmental contingencies change, behavior changes. But what impetus changes the environment? Skinner acknowledged that human behavior can exercise some measure of countercontrol over the environment, but he hisisted that, hi the final analysis, behavior is environmentally determined. Other theorists, such as Gordon Allport (Chapter 13) and Hans Eysenck (Chapter 14) emphasized the importance of traits or personal disposition hi shaping behavior. In general, these theorists held that personal factors interact with environmental conditions to produce behavior.

Albert Bandura (1986, 1999b, 2001, 2002b) adopts quite a different stance. His social cognitive theory explains psychological functioning in terms of triadic reciprocal causation. This system assumes that human action is a result of an interaction among three variables—environment, behavior, and person. By "person" Bandura means largely, but not exclusively, such cognitive factors as memory, anticipation, planning, and judghig. Because people possess and use these cognitive capacities, they have some capacity to select or to restructure their environment: That is, cognition at least partially determines which environmental events people attend to, what value they place on these events, and how they organize these events for future use. Although cognition can have a strong causal effect on both environment and behavior, it is not an autonomous entity, independent of those two variables. Bandura (1986) criticized those theorists who attribute the cause of human behavior

Feist-Feist: Theories of I V. Learning Theories I 16. Bandura: Social I I <fi>The McGraw-H

Personality, Sixth Edition Cognitive Theory Companies, 2005

474 Part V Learning Theories

FIGURE 16.1 Bandura's concept of reciprocal determinism. Human functioning is a product of the interaction of (B) behavior, (P) person variables, and (E) environment.

SOURCE: From Albert Bandura. 1994b. Social cognitive theory and mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann

(Eds.). Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (p. 62). Hillsdale. NJ: Erlbaum. Reproduced by permission.

FIGURE 16.1 Bandura's concept of reciprocal determinism. Human functioning is a product of the interaction of (B) behavior, (P) person variables, and (E) environment.

SOURCE: From Albert Bandura. 1994b. Social cognitive theory and mass communication. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann

(Eds.). Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (p. 62). Hillsdale. NJ: Erlbaum. Reproduced by permission.

to internal forces such as instincts, drives, needs, or intentions. Cognition itself is determined being formed by both behavior and environment.

Triadic reciprocal causation is represented schematically hi Figure 16.1, where B signifies behavior; E is the external environment; and P represents the person, including that persons gender, social position, size, and physical attractiveness, but especially cognitive factors such as thought, memory, judgment, foresight, and so on.

Bandura uses the term "reciprocal" to hidicate a triadic interaction of forces, not a similar or opposite counteraction. The three reciprocal factors do not need to be of equal strength or to make equal contributions. The relative potency of the three varies with the hidividual and with the situation. At times, behavior might be the most powerful, as when a person plays the piano for her own enjoyment. Other thnes, the environment exerts the greatest influence, as when a boat overturns and every survivor beghis thinking and behaving in a very similar fashion. Although behavior and environment can at times be the most powerful contributors to performance, cognition (person) is usually the strongest contributor to performance. Cognition would likely be activated hi the examples of the person playing the piano for her own enjoyment and the survivors of an overturned boat. The relative influence of behavior, environment, and person depends on which of the triadic factors is strongest at a particular moment (Bandura, 1997).

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Responses

  • Marko
    How to measure reciprocal causation?
    1 year ago
  • kalevi kaitainen
    What are bandura's triadic reciprocal model?
    4 months ago
  • John
    How does triadic reciprocal causation differ from piaget?
    1 month ago
  • veera
    What is reciprocal causation psychology?
    29 days ago

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