What Is Reciprocal Determinism?

Reciprocal Determinism: The Two-Way Street of Behavior and Environment

What Is Reciprocal Determinism?

As we human beings go through our day-to-day lives, we inevitably exhibit a range of behaviors. We decide to be nice to this person or mean to that person. We eat this food instead of eating that food.

We walk our dogs; take the trash out; tie our shoes; and read articles online.

Have you ever wondered what exactly causes you to make the choices that you make? Why do we humans behave in one way instead of in another? 

On one side of the argument, you have theories of environmental determinism, which claim that free will is entirely an illusion and that we human beings are products of our environments and nothing more.

Essentially, the idea of choice in any decision is completely illusory because that choice has already been made for you by the environment around you. Environmental factors have influenced you and determined whether you will exhibit one behavior or another.

The theory of environmental determinism was largely forwarded by the work of 20th-century psychologist B. F. Skinner. 

On the other side of the argument, you have psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers who would argue that true free will is not only possible for human beings, but that it’s a necessity for self-actualization, or the fulfillment of one’s potential. These philosophies see human beings as agents in charge of their own destinies, not simply passive recipients of external environmental factors. 

As our understanding of our relationships with the world around us continues to develop, thinkers are starting to realize that both the ideas of environmental determinism and pure free will are a bit oversimplified.

Thus, more intermediate approaches have been adopted that draw elements from both philosophies.

One such theory is the idea of reciprocal determinism, a theory set forth by psychologist Albert Bandura in his 1977 book Social Learning Theory. 

This article will examine the core concepts of reciprocal determinism and hopefully explain the relationship between behavior and environment better than one-sided theories environmental determinism or pure free will. 

The essence of reciprocal determinism, also known as triadic reciprocality, is that the environment influences a person’s thinking and behavior, but those subsequent behaviors also serve to affect the environment around that person. In that way, a person and their environment are in a sort of never-ending feedback loop in which they are both influencing each other. 

In the words of Bandura himself, “Individuals are neither powerless objects controlled by environmental forces nor entirely free agents who can do whatever they choose.” Contrary to the theories of B. F.

Skinner and environmental determinists, human beings do have some element of choice in the behaviors they exhibit.

However, those choices will always inevitably be influenced by the individual’s environment as well. 

Simply put, human beings don’t determine the world around them, nor does the environment determine the human being. It’s a two-way street of influence in which humans are constantly affecting their environments and environments are constantly affecting the human being. To explain this concept, Bandura put forth a concept known as triadic reciprocal causation. 

Triadic Reciprocal Causation

The idea of triadic reciprocal causation is meant to explain the relationships between the environment, the individual, and the behavior itself. The model consists of a triad of the three factors, all of which are able to influence the other two factors. 

Personal factors include a person’s tendencies, past experiences, opinions, desires, and knowledge. These are the factors that one might consider as the “free will” portion of the decision-making process. 

Environmental factors are pretty much any external factors that might influence a person’s behavior. Some examples might be societal norms, the presence of other people, social hierarchies, or even the weather. 

Behavioral factors are the actual actions taken by human beings. Behaviors are the manifestation of the personal and environmental factors at play, but they also serve to influence the environment and the individual as well. In this way, behaviors both influence and are influenced by the environment and the individual. 

Personal Factors

The personal factors at play basically consist of the characteristics that an individual has developed as a result of past events. These could be the result of genetic factors or learning from past experiences, or some combination of both. 

For example, let’s say that someone is very shy. The fact that they are shy is probably a result of past experiences.

Perhaps every time they’ve tried to be outgoing, the result has been negative, and so they’ve developed a shy personality by learning from these experiences.

That person’s shyness is now a part of their personality, and is one of the personal factors that affects their behavior. 

If that shy person walks into a crowded dining room, their personality will probably influence their behavior such that they’ll seek a table away from all of the other diners rather than trying to sit down next to someone else. However, since the behavior is also inevitably influenced by the environment as well (and also affects the environment itself), that’s not the whole story. 

Environmental Factors

The environmental factors at play basically consist of the external forces that affect a person’s behavior and thus their personality. The environment includes both animate and inanimate forces. Other people, the lay a room, and the overall societal or cultural context could all be considered environmental factors. 

To continue the past example, let’s say that the shy person walks into a crowded dining room. They’re making their way toward an empty table to sit alone when some outgoing person calls them over and asks to sit with them. That outgoing person, who is part of their environment, has influenced the shy person’s behavior. 

Additionally, if the shy person has a nice time sitting with the outgoing person, they might be more ly to be more outgoing in a similar situation in the future. In that way, the environment and the behavior of sitting down with the outgoing person have influenced the person’s personality as well. 

Behavioral Factors 

The behavioral factors at play consist of the actions taken by the individual as a result of their environmental and personal factors. Behavioral factors include any words spoken, movements made, or even internal decisions. 

In the context of the shy person, the behavioral factors would be the courses of action the person ends up taking in the crowded dining room. The actions that this person takes are going to inevitably have an effect on their personality as well as the environment of the room. 

If the shy person goes and sits by themself, it may reinforce their shy personality traits. And thus, they may be more ly to go and sit by themself in the future. Additionally, their decision to sit by themself has also affected the environment, since there is now one less empty table. 

If the shy person is beckoned over by the outgoing person and goes to sit with them, it may influence their personality and make them more ly to be outgoing in the future if their behavior was positively reinforced. Their behavior of sitting with the outgoing person will also affect the environment, as the overall ambience might become more welcoming and friendly.

It’s Complicated 

The complex subject of human behavior and personality is not one that can be explained by simply one factor environmental determinism or pure free will.

Albert Bandura’s theory of reciprocal determinism, while not entirely perfect, gives us a place to start for understanding the relationship between the environment and the individual and how they are constantly influencing and changing one another. 

In your own life, maybe try to reflect on how your own personality has been affected by your environment and your past behaviors. Then, think about how your personality and behaviors have affected the world around you. Understanding this relationship is a great tool when trying to make positive changes to one’s self or to one’s world. 

Источник: https://www.alittlebithuman.com/reciprocal-determinism-the-two-way-street-of-behavior-and-environment/

An Overview on the Reciprocal Determinism Concept With Examples

What Is Reciprocal Determinism?

Albert Bandura put forth the concept of reciprocal determinism, which purports that not only does the environment influence the person, but the person also brings about a change in the environment.

Home / Uncategorized / An Overview on the Reciprocal Determinism Concept With Examples

Albert Bandura put forth the concept of reciprocal determinism, which purports that not only does the environment influence the person, but the person also brings about a change in the environment.

Music and Moods

Loud music heavy metal is believed to put a person in an agitated state of mind, whereas soothing music enables the person to take decisions in a calm and rational manner.

Have you ever wondered what makes us behave the way we do? Why we to catch up with our friends after work, or get irritated at being stuck in traffic? For many, these ‘questions’ may not even seem something that needs to be thought about. They may just be a part of normal behavior. However, have you ever given a thought to what drives our behavior, and about its subsequent consequences? This is exactly what the theory of reciprocal determinism explains.

An Overview of the Theory

Albert Bandura, a renowned psychologist, put forth the brilliant concept of reciprocal determinism. He describes it as―a person’s behavior is both influenced by and influences his/her personal factors and the environment.

Bandura’s theory states that a person’s behavior is influenced by the environment and vice versa.

In simpler terms, it means that the environment tends to make changes in the behavior of the individual, and in return, the behavior of the individual is also responsible for a change in the environment.

So, it means that not only does the environment influence the person’s thinking, but the person’s subsequent behavior also influences the environment.

Thus, there are three main factors that are dealt with in this theory. They are known as triadic reciprocal causation.

✦ Personal factors (thoughts, feelings, etc.)✦ Behavior

✦ External environment

Determinism is the theory that portrays that a person’s actions, behavior, or decisions are just an outcome of the events that have happened in the past. This means that our actions are just reactions to what has already happened.

The way we behave today is just a reaction to past events.

He agreed with the theory of determinism that our behavior and actions are a causation of past events, but he was also of the opinion that the environment is caused or affected by our behavior as well.


★ Imagine a person who does not wish to work in a particular firm (personal factor), but the circumstances are such that he/she cannot leave the job. This will make him/her dis the work and may also result in poor performance (behavior).

In return, this will result in the person acting inappropriately, making his colleagues/superiors dis not only his/her work, but the individual as well (environment). It will only make the situation worse for both the parties.

Hence, both social and physical behavior will create a more restrictive environment and lead to further behavior disorders.

★ A school student loves to draw (personal factor). He/she will pay attention to the art lectures and create beautiful drawings. This will earn him/her praise from the teacher and adoration from fellow students (environment), making him/her create even better drawings (behavior).

★ Another example is of a child talking loudly in class because he/she is bored (personal factor). When the teacher reprimands the child (environment), he/she may either stop talking or become rebellious by talking even louder (behavior), in which case, the teacher may send the child to detention or to the principal’s office.

★ A child does not a particular subject, so he/she will not study it (personal factor).

This will lead to getting lower marks in the exam, which will lead to the child being at the receiving end of his parents’ and teacher’s reprimands (environment).

This will make the child not want to study that subject even more, and he/she may also begin disliking the teacher (behavior), creating further problems.

The Bobo Doll Experiment

Albert Bandura was interested in the study of aggression in children. The Bobo doll experiment is the most widely-acknowledged experiment conducted by him.

For this model, Bandura used a visual aid, a video which had one of his students beating a Bobo doll, which is an inflated toy with some weight put at the bottom of it to pop it back up when hit.

The video showed a woman hitting, kicking, screaming at the doll, and knocking it, displaying various levels of aggression. Bandura showed this film to some kindergarten children.

After watching the film, the children were taken to a playroom, which had the Bobo doll. Bandura was not at all surprised to see them imitate the woman from the video.

They punched, kicked, smashed, and sat on it, blowing it completely. Observers were astounded to see children behave so violently at such a young age.

Also, this behavior was being carried out by the children without getting any incentives in return. They were simply imitating the woman in the video.

This model of learning put forth by Bandura was known as Observational Learning. With this experiment, it was found that almost 88% of the children exhibited aggression. The children were observed for few months after that, and to the dismay of the observers, it was found that almost 40% of them showed violent behavior.

Albert Bandura believed that the aggressive behavior displayed by family members was more harmful than anything else.

He purported that children imitated their parent’s passive-aggressive behavior while dealing with their friends. His ideology was to treat and diagnose the problem in the person’s childhood itself.

Care must be taken during the upbringing of a child, as this determines the child’s temperament in the future.

Man has the ability to change personal factors and also change the environment. Change is constant, as everyone knows.

The doctrine of reciprocal determinism justifies that a person is capable of weaving the present, so as to make a smooth way to his/her future.

The world will be better to live in if we have the power to make it the way we want it to be. Of course, without challenging the laws of nature.

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Источник: https://psychologenie.com/reciprocal-determinism

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