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The Relationship Between Personality and Learning: A Behaviorist Perspective

Classical Conditioning

Why do we want to study personality and Learning together? Learning theory of personality presents a model of personality that emphasises observable behaviour, the relationship between stimuli and responses, and the impact of learning. According to behaviourist Ivan Pavlov, individual differences in personality as the result of learning and different environmental experiences, one of his famous study is classical conditioning, explained that how a previously neutral stimulus can come to have a learned effect on someone. His experiment on dogs salivation showed that when the dog hear the bell ring, the salivation level will be high, proved that new environment stimulus can be paired with a existing response, 

Whereas operant conditioning, According to Skinner’s theory, personality of an individual can be understood through the study of his behaviour, based on operant conditioning, behavior can be reinforced by different consequences. And the Reinforcer may either be positive or negative. He argued that we respond to every kind of reinforcement, so an individual's personality can be shaped and controlled. 

In a social group context,  Julian.B. Rotter’s social learning theory was very interesting, he claims that each individual has a personality build up over time. Based on our experience with social interactions, he suggests that personality predicts behavior, and according to his study, behavior potential equals to expectancy and reinforcement value. 

Since social Learning theory plays an important role through our experiment, Albert Banduraproposed that social learning theory is that people observe the behavior, attitudes and consequences of others, then transform the information to their own actions. There are five steps need taken in place, first step is observe, this is the key of Bandura’s theory, individual need to observe certain behaviors in order to learn, then is attention phase, it’s easy to understand, you have to pay attention to something when you learn, the next step is retention, which means after the observation, you store the information to the brain then pull it out later on, the fourth step is reproduction, means that you perform the observed behavior, by practicing it, it leads to improvement of the actual behavior and improvement. 

The final Step is motivation, it also the most important part of social learning, it requires punishment or reinforcement involved, for example, when an individual see another individual rewarded by behave in certain ways, he might start to do the same behavior in order to get the reward, or if an animal got predators attack when approaching to food, others might not going to the food because they might get the same consequence. 

So how does activity level affect social learning? First of all, when an individual is more active than others, it means they spend more time being active as explained by ____.  individuals who are more active are more likely to take risks, explore the environment, and the chance of being a role model is relatively higher than those who are less active, according to the previous study by  David Sloan Wilson on his pumpkinseed fish, The less active individuals who spend less time being active are more likely to be an observer, they observe and pay attention to the more active individuals, if their actions get the reward, then they can reproduce the behavior, so the learning occurs. 

For humans, activity level is a number that shows how physically active their lifestyle is, physical activities help us in multiple aspects of our life, facilitates learning, helps us become more healthy bothphysically and mentally. from a neuroscience perspective, by doing physical activity, the flow to oxygen to the brain is increased, the number of brain neurotransmitters is increased, it improves our memory, arterness and concentration. Which are the key components of learning. 

By doing physical activities regularly,  we become more fit and able, reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular, heart diseases, cancer and diabetes. More importantly, it reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and increases our overall well being. 

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