The third propositions of behaviourism (The person is not responsible for behaviour) and humanism (The person is responsible for behaviour) directly contradict one another. We see here the philosophical debate between determinism and free-will. Interactionists resolve this conflict by pointing out that they are both right. People who have a behavioristic self-concept believe that their behaviour is determined and the self-fulfilling prophecy (what you expect is what you get) ensures that their behaviour is indeed determined. People who have a humanistic self-concept believe that they have free-will and the self-fulfilling prophecy, in this case, tends to ensure that they do indeed have free-will. In this way, the determinist and the free-willist have both accumulated "evidence" for their respective theories. Each theory is based on what feels good rather than on what seems true.2 You do not believe it because it is true but, rather, it becomes true because you believe it.|
Psychology textbook writers (including myself), intone, time after pompous time, that "behavior is determined by the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors". Consider Siamese twins, Chang and Eng, who were genetically identical and had the same environment, yet were very different. Chang was an alcoholic and a womanizer, whereas Eng was teetotal and practically celibate. We must consider a third factor - choice. Chang chose the short, happy life whereas Eng chose the long, miserable life. Poor old Eng had to die when Chang died as a result of his excesses. However, most of us are not attached to someone else and can make choices that help determine our lives. Most of us can organize a psychic coup d'etat to overthrow the tyranny of our genetics and our environments. We can write our own scripts. Growth from animal to human (Charles Darwin) and from child to adult (Jean Piaget) could best be summarized as the gradual emancipation of the person from the tyranny of his/her genes and environment.
Interactionists agree that, since the person is responsible for behaviour, then the person has intrinsic worth. The person must accept blame for bad behavior but, on the other hand, can accept credit for good behavior. That is, a person can have intrinsic worth. People who consider themselves to have intrinsic worth are said to have self-esteem (that is, worth in their own eyes); people who consider themselves to have no intrinsic worth tend to seek prestige (that is, worth in the eyes of other people).
| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 |
2 This was first pointed out to me by a wise old man I once met in Los Angeles. He had just emerged from a mental hospital, he was physically sick, his wife had left him, and his children were estranged from him. After a five-hour conversation, during which we disagreed on most topics which arose, I suddenly saw an underlying pattern.