Impact of Personal Characteristic and Situational Factors on Social Behaviors of Students at the University of New Mexico
Research on human pro-social behavior aggressive/antisocial behavior has progressed to a point at which there is a need to have a unifying framework. Some domain-limited theories of human behavior include social learning, cognitive neo-association, script, excitation transfer, and social interactions theories (Cervone & Shoda, 2009).
This research paper is aimed at demonstrating how personal and situational factors can influence how individuals demonstrate pro-social behaviors.It is hypothesized that when a situational factor activates the behavioral self-schema of an individual, the chances that he or she will tend to behave in a more pro-social manner improves.
The participants of this research will be students from the University of New Mexico.The study will consist of two unrelated parts, that is, an in-lab priming experiment and an online survey
The results of the study will be presented using Aiken and West’s table.Aiken and West’s recommendation will be followed by computing the simple impacts of the conditions of the experiment.
This study will support the theory framework of the research. The findings are expected to demonstrate that when a situational factors, in this case, behavior determinant, activates the behavioral self-schema of an individual, the chances that he or she will tend to behave in a more pro-social manner improves
Impact of Personal Characteristic and Situational Factors on Social Behaviors of Students at the University of New Mexico
The belief that some people are pro-social and others are antisocial has in most cases been a convenient manner of differentiating the people (Manstead & Parker, 2005). But differentiating people as friendly or rude does not totally capture the exact nature socialism. Sometimes the most precious person violates moral standards that he or she claims to uphold. In some situations, the meanest and rudest demonstrates acts of generosity and kindness. That one swings from acting on his or her moral principles in one situation and abandoning them in another is just to recognize that in the imperfect, messy world of morality, situations he or she might find himself or herself in can affect how he or she behaves or react to it (Schwartz and Howard, 2011).
The belief that situational factors affect social behavior is among the core assumptions of social psychology and many types of research have supported the big role situations play in determining moral behaviors.An example of such studies is by Bandura (Bandura, 2007). They found out that seminary students were far much less likely to assist people in need when time pressure of their situation could not give room for such pro-social behavior. In another study, according to Blasi, negotiators or brokers were less likely to rip off their partners of clients in situations where ethical beliefs in their organizations were given much priority (Blasi, 2005). Recently, some studies have also suggested that some people tend to be more harmful to their fellows in situations where such behaviors can be justified (Cervone & Shoda, 2009). Many scholars have argued that pro-social behavior is solely determined by situational factors. However, some researchers have argued that some stable personal characters also play a significant part. A study conducted by Darley and Batson revealed that themes related to personalities such as communion and agency appeared to be more prevalent in the life narratives of pro-social exemplars (Darley & Batson, 2006). One interesting part of the findings of this study directly relates to a divergence personal traits of different kinds of pro-social exemplars. The study found out that individuals who have demonstrated a long-term and extraordinary commitment to being mindful of others were more generative, optimistic, and nurturing as compared to those who have put their lives at risk with the view of saving others.
This research will propose a theoretical framework which will explain in details how situational factors and personal characteristics jointly affect social behavior. Pro-social behavior in this paper means actions that show social responsiveness to the interest and needs of others, something that many psychologists and ethicists see as a fundamental characteristic of morality (Mischel, 2009). This research will test the predictive utility of the proposed framework in one study. Through the study, the research will address the important and unexamined gap that exists in the present knowledge concerning how personal characteristics interact with situational factors to influence social behaviors.
The proposed theoretical framework is based on social-cognitive theory (Webster, 2005) and makes use of psychological mechanisms and concepts from social cognition in offering given predictions regarding how and when the influence of personal characteristics and situational factors will be controlled by the centrality of social identity.
The study that will be conducted in this research will examine how reviewing the list of the Ten Commandments and recalling them will influence the willingness of participants to come up with a marketing program that would benefit others at a personal cost. It is expected that the Ten Commandments (behavior determinant), should improve the intentions of pro-social behaviors. However, the effect is not expected to uniform among the participants.
Eighty-four undergraduate psychology students from the University of New Mexico will take part in the study. They will be of age between 21 to 30 years old.Participants will be recruited by their personal characteristics and skills in decision making. Sixty percent of the participants will be men. Refreshment will be offered to all participants during the time of study.
The study will consist of two unrelated parts, that is, an in-lab priming experiment and an online survey. The online survey will be conducted approximately a day before conducting the lab experiment. The survey will contain demographic measures among other measures. A three-group design having a behavior determinant condition and control condition will be used in the experiment.
The groups will be informed of the need to answer some questions regarding their personal opinions, general knowledge, and their skills in making decisions. They will then be asked to complete tasks as follows;
a. Items of general knowledge,
b. A measure of the current accessibility of pro-social behavior within a self-working concept,
c. The degree of intention to demonstrate the pro-social or anti-social behavior.
d. Demographic items.
The participants will be randomly assigned to the conditions of the experiment.
Participants will answer the questions listed above. In the effort to complete the centrality of social behavior, participants will be required to go through a list of nine characteristics that can effectively describe and individual. This characteristic will include compassionate, caring, fair, generous, hardworking, friendly, helpful, kind, and honest. They will then be asked to visualize individuals who would have these traits. The participants will then answer several questions that will give their opinion regarding the traits and how they feel about them. The responses to the questions will be graded on a scale of 1 to 7. 1 (strongly disagree) and 7 (strongly agreeing).
The results of the study will be presented using Aiken and West’s table. Aiken and West’s recommendation will be followed by computing the simple impacts of the conditions of the experiment on the mediator, in this case, the current accessibility of pro-social behavior within self-working concept, at -+1 standard deviations of the moderator, in this case, centrality of behavioral identity, to examine the impacts of the moderation (Aiken & West, 2005). The simple impacts of the current accessibility of pro-social behavior within self-working on the dependent variable at -+1 standard deviations of the moderator. The products of the simple impacts at each moderator value will be calculated to find the total indirect impact of the behavioral determinant through the mediator.
This study will support the theory framework of the research. The findings are expected to demonstrate that when a situational factors, in this case, behavior determinant, activates the behavioral self-schema of an individual, the chances that he or she will tend to behave in a more pro-social manner improves. The influence of behavioral determinant, however, is not uniform among everyone. In actual sense, behavioral determinant tends to have stronger impacts on individuals whose social identity has comparatively low centrality since such determinants have greater chances of increasing the accessibility of social identity within the individuals (Mischel & Shoda, 2006). On the other hand, such determinants as the one discussed in the study tend to have weaker impacts on individuals whose identity of social behavior has comparatively high centrality since such determinants have chances of improving the accessibility of social identity within the individuals. According to the social-cognitive approach adopted, the extent to which the social self-schema is accessible within an individual determines the degree to which social identity influences behavior outcomes (Sage, Kavussanu & Duda, 2006).
In his work, Weaver asserted that the concept of moral and social identity held a very significant promise for present understanding of advancing researchers of functions of pro-social behavioral, but many questions remain unanswered. For instance, little information is known regarding the ways through which social identity influences behavioral actions (Weaver, 2006). Therefore, if this research doesn’t demonstrate that situational factors or personal characteristics can affect social behavior of a person, there will be need to conduct empirical studies in this area to examine potential moderating and mediating factors.
One significant contribution that this research will make relates to its testing and specification of a mechanism for mediation that is, the current accessibility of social identity within an individual –through which personal characteristics and situational factors influence behavioral intentions and actions.
The study demonstrated above is subject to some limitations and these limitations poses a significant avenue for further studies. The main limitations are that only one factor is examined in the study. The range of situational factors and personal characteristics that can affect behavioral self-schema is multifarious and unknown.
Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (2005).Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Bandura, A. (2007). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual Review of Psychology, 52,1–26.
Blasi, A. (2005). Moral character: A psychological approach. In D. K. Lapsley & F. C. Power (Eds.), Character psychology and character education(pp. 67–100). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
Cervone, D., & Shoda, Y. (2009).The coherence of personality: Social-cognitive bases of consistency, variability, and organization. New York: Guilford Press.
Darley, J. M., & Batson, C. D. (2006). From Jerusalem to Jericho: A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27,100 –119.
Manstead, A. S. R., & Parker, D. (2005). Evaluating and extending the theory of planned behavior. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone (Eds.), European review of social psychology(Vol. 6, pp. 69–95). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
Mischel W. (2009). Personality coherence and dispositions in a cognitive-affective personality (CAPS) approach. In The Coherence of Personality: Social Cognitive Bases of Consistency, Variability, and Organization, ed. D Cervone, Y Shoda, pp. 37–60. New York: Guilford.
Mischel W, Shoda Y. (2006). A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: re-conceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychol. Rev.102:246–68
Schwartz, S. H., & Howard, J. A. (2011). A normative decision-making model of altruism. In J. P. Ruston & R. M. Sorrentino (Eds.), Altruism and helping behavior: Social, personality, and developmental perspectives (pp. 189–211). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Sage, L., Kavussanu, M., & Duda, J. (2006). Goal orientations and moral identity as predictors of prosocial and antisocial functioning in male association football players. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24,455– 466.
Weaver, G. R. (2006). Virtue in organizations: Moral identity as a foundation for moral agency. Organization Studies, 27,341–368.
Webster, F. E. (2005). Determining the characteristics of the socially conscious consumer. Journal of Consumer Research, 2, 188–196.
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