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SOCI 101
Introduction to
Kurt Reymers,
1. Nature vs. Nurture
c. How can we test which side of the debate gives a
better explanation of personality?
“Control” the equation.
Science examines variables under controlled conditions. A variable
is anything that can change, when influenced by other variables.
Dependent variable: one that changes
Independent variable: one that stays constant (is
Dependent Variable = Nature: possible tests?
- Examine changes in
brain chemistry OR composition;
2. Changing Nature: Altering the Brain
The Tale of Phineas Gage
Honest, well liked by friends and fellow workers on the Rutland and Burlington
Railroad, Gage was a young man of exemplary character and promise until one
day in September 1848. While tamping down the blasting powder for a
dynamite charge, Gage inadvertently sparked an explosion. The inch-thick
tamping rod rocketed through his cheek, obliterating his left eye on its way
through his brain and out the top of his skull. The rod landed several yards away,
and Gage fell back in a convulsive heap.
Yet a moment later he stood up and spoke; his fellow workers watched, in
horror, then drove him by oxcart to a hotel, where a local doctor dressed his
wounds. As the doctor stuck his index fingers into the holes in Gage's face and
head until their tips met, the young man inquired when he would be able to
return to work.
Within two months, the physical organism that was Phineas Gage had
completely recovered--he could walk, speak, and demonstrate normal
awareness of his surroundings. But the character of the man did not survive the
tamping rod's journey through his brain. In place of the diligent, dependable
worker stood a foulmouthed and ill-mannered liar given to extravagant schemes
that were never followed through. "Gage," said his friends, "was no longer
2. Changing Nurture: Social Isolation
Dependent Variable = Nurture: possible tests?
- Identical twin studies (but many have been debunked);
- Examine social isolation.
a. Impact on nonhuman primates (Rhesus monkeys)
i. Harlow’s experiments show need for socialization to achieve normal
b. Impact on children
i. Feral (“wild”) children
ii. Genie (2)
After 2 years of care, the following 11 years of isolation left her
with the mental capabilities of a one-year-old.
iii. Anna – Reading 11 (Quiz)
3. Agents of Socialization
Where do our ideas, attitudes and beliefs come from?
a. Parents
– Considered the primary agent of socialization
b. Peer groups
– Need for acceptance and demands for loyalty
c. Schools
– Records are maintained and follow each person
d. The Media
i. Traditional Media: newspapers, magazines, movies, and radio present many images
related to cultural values;
ii. Television: average ads, music videos, shows watched = 17 hours/week avg.;
iii. Internet: new type of interactive interface; new rules and boundaries (anonymity, public
and private blending).
iv. Capitalism and Media = MONOPOLY ON IDEAS
4. Personality Development
Three personality theories:
a. Sigmund Freud – Psychoanalysis
b. Eric Erickson – Eight Stages
c. George Mead – The Social Self
4. Personality Development
a. Sigmund Freud
Mind is made up of three parts:
i. ID (Latin for “it”) – the basic drives (aggression, passion,
sexuality or libido) which govern how we react to pleasure and pain; the
ii. SUPEREGO (Latin meaning ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ the ego) the operation of
culture within the individual; norms, taboos, folkways and mores:
iii. EGO (Latin for “I”) – the conscious self; that part of the
self that thinks, reasons, and balances the forces of the Id and
EGO: “Our Angels and Demons at war”: Battle of the Id and Superego
Our mind and personality are formed by the way in which we
balance the strong personal forces of self-interest against the
strong social forces of the norm, cultural values and taboos.
4. Personality Development
b. Erik Erickson’s ”Eight Stages”
Personality develops throughout a lifelong process:
1. Infancy – Trust (Birth-18 months): trust vs. mistrust
2. Toddlerhood – Control (1.5yrs-3 yrs): autonomy vs. doubt
3. Pre-school – Engagement (4-5 yrs): initiative vs. guilt
4. Pre-adolescence – Accomplishment (6-13yrs):
industriousness vs inferiority
5. Adolescence – Search (13-19 yrs): identity vs. confusion
6. Young Adulthood – Balance (20s): intimacy vs. isolation
7. Middle adulthood – Contribution/Meaning (middle age):
making a difference vs. self-absorption
8. Old age – Satisfaction: integrity vs. despair
4. Personality Development Theory
c. George Herbert Mead
i. Self: the self develops only with
symbol-use (language) and social interaction
ii. a. “Me” = our perceptions of our “outer” self
(objective form of personality); the “looking-glass self”
b. “I” = active, creative, spontaneous
part of the self
that comes from within (subjective form of personality)
iii. Only humans “take roles”.
Development of self-identity and socialization follows certain
Stages of Role-Taking Ability: