Discuss a topic that brings personality theory together with social psychology. Dealing with unhealthy groups like gangs or cults is an important issue in social psychology.
Bob is an adolescent who grew up in a gang-infested part of a large city. His parents provided little supervision while he was growing up and left Bob mostly on his own. He developed friendships with several kids in his neighborhood who were involved in gangs, and eventually joined a gang himself. Now crime and gang activities are a way of life for Bob. These have become his way to identify with his peer group and to support himself.
It is relatively easy to see that Bob’s environment has played a large role in his current lifestyle. This coincides with Skinner’s concept of environment being the sole determinant of how personality develops. Skinner
believed that if you change someone’s environment and the reinforcements in that environment, you can change their behavior.
Research Skinner’s concept of the environment and answer the following questions:
If you were to create an environment for Bob to change his behavior from that of a gang member to a respectable and law-abiding citizen, what types of environmental changes and positive reinforcements would you suggest and why?
What are some interventions that are used in the field currently? Are there any evidence-based programs that use these environmental and reinforcement interventions?
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