Explaining Behaviour Via Personality Theory

i) Select a piece of behaviour. In this case the behaviour is smoking on a break during work.(ii) describe this behaviour clearly and concisely, giving examples where appropriate;(iii) consider the behaviour from the point of view of any TWO of the personality theories covered in this unit;FREUD AND SKINNER
that is, discuss the behaviour youdescribe in the light of the two personality theories you select,(freud and skinner) critically evaluating the approaches, and weighing up their strengths andweaknesses. Which of the two theories do you consider to be most adequate in giving an account of your behaviour, and why? You are requiredto make use of what you have learned from the lectures and tutorial discussions, and to show evidence of reading and critical thinking in the area.
The urge to smoke is by far the most commonly reported subjective response to cigarette withdrawal. It is worse in smokers with higher nicotine intake and can be reduced by a nicotine substitute. Although it may occur at any time during abstinence, it can be increased by stress and boredom and reduced when the smoker is kept occupied. Craving for cigarettes probably has multiple causation arising partly out of the perceived benefits of smoking and negative consequences of not smoking and partly as a direct result of loss of nicotine. Whatever its root causes it would be expected to involve general psychological processes such as associative learning and attribution. This paper draws together the threads of pharmacological and psychological levels of explanation for cigarette craving in an attempt to provide a clearer understanding of this phenomenon.

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Did you know how cigarettes triggers you to smoke? Here’s a related explanation by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist who studied changes in behavior in the early 1900s. One of his observations were that dogs normally salivate just as they are given food. In one of his experiments, he rang a bell just before he fed his dogs. Subsequently, the dogs began to associate and link the sound of the bell with food. Soon, they salivated even if he rang the bell without giving them any food. The dogs had learned “The bell rings means I’m going to be fed!”. Pavlov describes this phenomenon as “a conditioned response”.  The same “conditioned response” or association, the term we prefer to use, occurs with you and smoking.  After smoking many, many cigarettes, your daily routine and acts become associated with smoking and triggers the urge to smoke.  For example, if you smoke every time you drive, just getting into the car can activate associations to smoke, as if your brain tells you, “I’m in the car now so its time to smoke!”
Similarly, if you smoke immediately after you wake up each morning, you mind associates smoking with waking up from sleep. Even long after you’ve quit smoking, you may still get triggers to smoke when you wake up.
Understanding and dealing with these powerful associations is one of the most important part of quitting smoking. A similar study by B.F. Skinner included a series of animal experiments to study how habits are formed. Skinner found that when behavior, good or bad, is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated and when punished, it is less likely to be repeated.
Just as in Skinner’s research, smokers believe that smoking rewards by relaxing and soothing them. In addition, the close company of other smokers may also lead them to believe that smoking rewards them with social acceptance. Of course, there is no proof to these false perceptions. Still, smokers continue to smoke because they believe smoking rewards them somehow.
At the same time, smokers who try to quit smoking receive “punishment” through bad moods, irresistible urges and cravings. It is no wonder why smokers find it difficult to even consider quitting smoking.
**References Human Psychopharmacology Volume 11 Journal of Drug Issues 31(2)
About a century ago, Viennese physician, Sigmund Freud expanded the concept of psychological causation by discovering (critics would say inventing) the “unconscious” mind. Basically, he hypothesized that a person could have real and powerful “motivations” that he or she was not aware of “on a conscious level”. In Freudian psychodynamics, a charged (cathected) memory can “cause” a behavior, motivate it, so to speak. He hypothesized that there are sources of “psychic energy” that motivate our actions and conscious thinking, much like boiler steam activates the arms of a steam engine. (Steam power was the dominant technology at the time Freud began writing. Psychological theories usually reflect and parallel the technology of the time. We are currently using computer-information procession models.) The existence of an unconscious mind made it possible for a person to be acting deterministically, even compulsively, but consciously feel they were making “free” choices. Freud further hypothesized that certain very early experiences influence our whole later life. For example, if a baby is weaned from the breast or bottle too early or has a difficult time teething, Freud speculated that he or she might spend inordinate amounts of time and energy in later life seeking oral satisfaction and comfort symbolically. Excessive eating, biting, putting things into your mouth, chewing on things, talking, and certainly smoking, qualify as so-called orally fixatedbehaviors in Freudian terms.
Everyone is also toilet trained, and this first frustrating attempt at self control influences later behavior. A child is rewarded for defecating or urinating on cue, and for being neat and clean about it. Thus, making a mess (soiling) or not making a mess in later life has symbolic meaning. Smoking, of course, involves expelling smoke, and making ashes, so-called anal behaviors.
Such symbolic fixations, called neurotic by neurologist Freud, can never really satisfy or extinguish our long-gone infantile frustrations, and thus are doomed to be repeated endlessly.
Freud, perhaps unwittingly, echoes and embodies many aspects of ancient Eastern philosophy, and his theories could well be called “old wine in new bottles”. For example, the objective of psychotherapy, which Freud called psychoanalysis, is to bring these unconscious or pre-conscious early chakra-like fixations to a conscious level, a process of enlightenment that reduces or eliminates the wasted energy of neuroticism. Freud developed his psychoanalytic ideas from his classical educational background and from his own clinical experiences, but they were then, and are to this day, so intuitively appealing that most people assume his ideas have been scientifically tested and validated, which, for the most part, they have not. With minor exception, the psychic “structures” he hypothesizes, the id, the ego and the superego, and the all the various “defense mechanisms” of psychoanalysis remain attractive post-hoc descriptive models with little or no predictive utility.
Freud is supposed to have said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, meaning that, at least in his dream analysis, cigars are not always a phallic symbol. In fact, Freud chain-smoked cigars, and died of cancer of the jaw and mouth. This may have been due in part to the fact that he was also addicted to cocaine. Cocaine, which was used as a dental anesthetic at that time, numbs the mouth and throat and this allows strong cigar smoke to be inhaled without triggering a gag reflex. Although he was a medical physician, and was chemically addicted to both nicotine and cocaine, (and probably caffeine as well) Freud still hypothesized that addiction was primarily a psychological (neurotic) activity, due to unconscious fixation at a certain infantile level of development.
Well, is there anything to this idea? Are addicted smokers “orally fixated”? Is that why they smoke? Can we say with any certainty that smokers had trouble teething or that they were weaned too early? Alas, to my knowledge, there have been no experimental or clinical controlled studies published that support, let alone confirm, this hypothesis, although uncontrolled clinical case studies and anecdotal reports abound. Rather like reading horoscopes, since virtually all smokers were weaned and teethed, they can all relate to orality in general. Whether oral behaviors are a cause or an effect of smoking, or merely co-exist with it, is the question. The best that clinical case studies can do is report if smoking patients have oral preferences and characteristics. However, to find that smokers have oral preferences is not proof of a relationship unless non-smokers do not have oral defense preferences.(It could just be that everybody has oral defense preferences, more or less.) And even if we can determine that only smokers really have oral characteristics, we still cannot say with any certainty if orality is causing the smoking. (It could be that something else is causing both smoking and oral fixation.) In the last analysis, whatever early life antecedents drug addictions may have, they soon develop a life of their own that overshadows those predispositions. Unless and until we have a way to identify and “prevent” or counteract oral fixation, whether or not it “causes” or predisposes a person toward later addictions like alcoholism or smoking is clinically irrelevant.
Whether one buys into the Freudian fixation hypothesis or not, the immediate solution is the same. For example, smokers often substitute eating hard candy for smoking. From the Freudian point of view, based on his ideas of “symptom substitution”, smokers are expressing, attempting to satisfy, their inherent oral fixation (due to early weaning or a bad teething experience, etc) with either activity, smoking or nibbling candy. This idea has not been tested, but even if there is one fundamental cause for both activities, it would still make sense to choose the “symptomatic” behavior that causes the least damage. Although people often gain weight when they quit smoking, it is not necessarily from this sort of nibbling, and in any event, modest weight gain is, arguably, less damaging than tobacco addiction.
Perhaps the most useful notion we can glean from Freud’s ideas of developmental fixation is that early experiences or frustrations can often heavily weight or even define what constitutes a reward or reinforcer for a person. This general hypothesis, a nice synthesis of behavioral and psychoanalytic theory, has been supported by recent research in cognitive psychology. Oral behaviors are performed by everyone but someone with intense early oral frustrations may find them more “rewarding” than someone without those frustrations. A smoker, when they put the nipple-like end of a cigarette into their mouths and suck, may be symbolically feeding at their mother’s breast, which, in reality, may have been denied them when they were most impressionable. It is a mildly shocking but attractive hypothesis, as is most of Freud. Whether anything beyond titillation is gained by it, is the question, since Freudian theory does not predict the direction of the effect of early experiences, or rather, it predicts both directions. That is, deprivation can sometimes cause under-weighting and sometimes cause over-weighting, depending on how the person reacts to it. If they found the early deprivation too aversive and painful, they may avoid such activities in later life rather than seek them out. Freud seems not to have noticed that while this sort of “reaction formation” trick is useful to explain any possible clinical behavior after it has occurred, it makes the whole concept of early influence useless as a predictor.
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