Source Book For Social Psychology


Kimball Young

Table of Contents | Next | Previous  


This chapter treats of the formation of habits in some detail. The opening paper by Burnham presents the fundamental concepts of conditioned response and inhibition. As we shall see in subsequent materials, much that has been called imitation, sympathy, and compensation depends upon this mechanism:

Watson shows how conditioned responses become integrated into the larger units of habits. The building of the conditioned response unit takes place, as Pavlov has shown, through the mediation of the cerebral cortex, and all sound psychology of behavior must recognize this fact. One difficulty with the so-called stimulus-response psychology is its frequent failure to recognize the dynamic, active part which the cortical centers play in the formation of the hierarchies of habits.

Hunter's paper discusses the modifications in behavior which take place in the field of instinctive patterns. He shows very clearly the place of social conditioning or substitution in response. In fact, sublimation is but a type of conditioning which has ethical approval. It is not some supernatural process, but rests upon the basic facts of learning.

The final paper by Bernard attempts to relate the content of habit to social evolution. As culture advanced, the forms of habit were constantly enlarged. In the higher stages, language, itself dependent on social conditioning, becomes increasingly important. Along with it the whole psycho-social environment of mores, folkways and techniques comes into operation. In the latest stages of this evolution this cultural environment (that is, these culturally determined habits) includes science, art, and those techniques which result from man's highest mental functions and his most highly specialized. social life.

Excerpted Works


No notes

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2