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Socializing the Individual. Chapter 5. Introduction. What comes to mind when you hear the term personality ?. Introduction. When sociologists use the term personality, they are referring to more than an individual’s most striking characteristics.

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  • What comes to mind when you hear the term personality?
  • When sociologists use the term personality, they are referring to more than an individual’s most striking characteristics.
  • For social scientists, personality is the sum of behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values that are characteristic of an individual.
  • Our personality determines how we adjust to our environment and how we react in specific situations.
  • People’s personalities continue to develop throughout their lifetimes.
  • Some traits seem to remain basically constant throughout a person’s life, while other traits undergo dramatic changes.
    • Ex. Personality develops more during childhood than in adulthood.
nature vs nurture
Nature vs. Nurture
  • There is a heated debate among social scientists as to whether nature or nurture determines a personality.
  • Some argue that heredity- the transmission of genetic characteristics from parents to children- determines personality.
  • Others suggest that social environment- contact with other people- determines personality.
nature vs nurture1
Nature vs. Nurture
  • The nature viewpoint held sway throughout the 1800s, saying that much of human behavior is instinctual in origin.
  • An instinct is an unchanging, biologically inherited behavior pattern.
  • Supporters claim that instinctual drives were responsible for practically everything- laughing, motherhood, warfare, religion, capitalism, and even the creation of society itself.
  • By the early 1900s, social scientists claimed to have identified more than 10,000 human instincts.
nature vs nurture2
Nature vs. Nurture
  • From the nurture point of view a person’s behavior and personality are the result of his or her social environment.
  • Never has this been more apparent than in an important set of experiments.
ivan pavlov
Ivan Pavlov
  • Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov found that instinctual behavior can be taught.
  • Pavlov trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell after they were given food immediately after hearing a bell.
  • Eventually, the bell rang, but they were not fed and the dogs continued to salivate.
nature vs nurture3
Nature vs. Nurture
  • Sociobiology- emerged in the 1970s and is the systematic study of the biological basis of all social behavior.
  • Sociobiologists argue that such varied cultural characteristics and behavioral traits as religion, cooperation, competition, slavery, territoriality, and envy are rooted in the genetic makeup of humans.
  • In general sociobiologists argue that most of human social life is determined by biological factors.
nature vs nurture4
Nature vs. Nurture
  • Most social scientists assume that personality and social behavior result from a blending of hereditary and social environmental influence, with environmental factors having the most influence.
  • Heredity, birth order, parents, and the cultural environment are among the principal factors that social scientists see influencing personality and behavior.
  • Everyone has certain characteristics that are present at birth such as, body build, hair type, eye color, and skin pigmentation.
  • Hereditary characteristics also include aptitudes, which is the capacity to learn a particular skill or acquire a particular body of knowledge.
  • Most social scientists believe aptitudes can be learned as well as inherited.
  • Heredity also plays an important role in shaping human personalities by setting limits on individuals.
    • ex. If you have little musical aptitude, you will probably not become a great musician.
  • Inherited characteristics place limits on what is possible, but they do not determine what a person will do.
birth order
Birth Order
  • Our personalities are also influenced by whether we have brothers, sisters, both, or neither.
  • Children with siblings have a different view on the world than children who have no brothers or sisters.
  • People born first or last have different perspectives than those in the middle.
birth order1
Birth Order
  • First-born children tend to be achievement oriented and responsible than are later-born children.
  • Later-born children, on the other hand, tend to be better in social relationships and to be more affectionate and friendly.
  • Studies have shown that first-born children tend to be more conservative while later-born children are often social and intellectual rebels.
parental characteristics
Parental Characteristics
  • Personality development of children is also influenced by the characteristics of their parents.
    • Ex. Parental age when bearing children can have a bearing child’s development.
  • Some parental characteristics that can influence a child’s personality are;
    • Level of education
    • Religious orientation
    • Economic status
    • Cultural heritage
    • Occupational background
the cultural environment
The Cultural Environment
  • Culture has a strong influence on personality development.
  • Each culture gives rise to a series of personality traits- model personalities- that are typical of members of that society.
    • Ex. Competitiveness, assertiveness, and individualism are American personality traits.
  • Sociologists have also studied the human development of children living in institutions such as orphanages and hospitals.
  • In 1945 psychologist Rene Spitz studied the effects of institutionalization on a group of infants in an orphanage.
  • The infants were fed and given proper medical care, but otherwise had little or no human contact.
  • The nurses, although well-trained and efficient, had little time to hold, hug, and talk to the children.
  • Within two years, about a third of the children in the study had died.
  • Of the children who survived, fewer than 25% could walk by themselves, dress themselves, or use a spoon.
  • Only one child could speak in complete sentences.
the social self

The Social Self

Chapter 5 Section 2

  • At birth, humans know nothing about the norms of society.
  • Only through interaction with their social and cultural environments do they transform themselves into participating members of society.
  • The interactive process through which people learn the basic skills, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns of a society is called socialization.
  • A number of theories exist to explain how people become socialized and develop a sense of self.
  • Self is your conscious awareness of possessing a distinct identity that separates you and your environment from other members of society.
john locke the tabula rasa
John Locke: The Tabula Rasa
  • Locke, and English philosopher from the 1600s insisted that each newly born human is a tabula rasa or clean slate.
  • Locke claimed each of us is born without a personality and we acquire that personality as a result of our human experiences.
  • Locke believed that he could shape a newborn by giving it any characteristic he chose.
john locke the tabula rasa1
John Locke: The Tabula Rasa
  • Today, most sociologists think of socialization as a process by which individuals absorb the aspects of their culture with which they come into contact.
  • Through the socialization process, they develop the sense of being distinct members of society.
charles horton cooley the looking glass self
Charles Horton Cooley: The Looking-Glass Self
  • Cooley is most noted for his theory on how someone develops a sense of self.
  • The looking-glass self refers to the interactive process by which we develop an image of ourselves based on how we imagine we appear to others.
  • Other people act as a mirror, reflecting back the image we project through their reactions to our behavior.
charles horton cooley the looking glass self1
Charles Horton Cooley: The Looking-Glass Self
  • According to Cooley, the development of the looking-glass self is a three step process.
    • First, we imagine how we appear to others.
    • Second, based on their reactions to use, we attempt to determine whether others view us as we view ourselves.
    • Finally, we use our perceptions of how others judge us to develop feelings about ourselves.
charles horton cooley the looking glass self2
Charles Horton Cooley: The Looking-Glass Self
  • Because the world appears as one mass to a newborn, interaction with the primary group (parents, brothers, sisters, other family members, friends) is key to growth of the child.
    • Ex. Parents who think little of a child’s ability will likely give rise to children who feel inferior.
  • Even though this process starts early in life, it continues throughout life.
george mead role taking
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • Mead developed further ideas related to Cooley’s theories.
  • According to Mead, seeing ourselves as others see us is only the beginning.
  • Eventually, we not only see ourselves as others see us, we take on or pretend to take the roles of others.
george mead role taking1
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • This act of role-taking forms the basis of the socialization process by allowing us to anticipate what others expect of us, which allows us to learn to see ourselves through the eyes of others.
  • According to Mead, we first internalize the expectations of our significant others (parents, siblings, relatives, etc.)
  • As we grow older significant others become less important, as the expectations of society start to guide our behavior and reinforce our sense of self.
george mead role taking2
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • Mead referred to the internalized attitudes, expectations, and viewpoints of society as the generalized other.
  • Because children are not automatically capable of role-taking, Mead said they must develop the necessary skills through social interaction (activities outside the home).
george mead role taking3
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • Mead visualized role-taking as a three-step process involving imitation, play, and games.
    • Under 3 years of age, children lack a sense of self so they can only imitate the actions and gestures of people in their immediate environment. Mimicking is not role-taking.
    • At 3, children begin to play and act out roles of specific people (dress up, play house, play doctor/nurse). They are attempting to see the world through someone else’s eyes.
george mead role taking4
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • At school age, children being to take part in organized games, which require children to not only play a role, but also anticipate the actions and expectations of others. Because it requires internalizing the generalized other, the game stage of role-taking most closely resembles real life.
  • According to Mead, the self consists of two related parts- the “I” and the “me”.
  • The I is the unsocialized, spontaneous, self-interested component of personality and self-identity.
  • The me is the part of ourself that is aware of the expectations and attitudes of society- the socialized self
george mead role taking5
George Mead: Role-Taking
  • In childhood, the I component of personality is stronger than the me component.
  • Through socialization, the me gains power be acting together with the I and bringing actions in line with the expectations of society.
  • The me never totally dominates the I.
  • To develop into a well-rounded member of society, a person needs both aspects of the self.
agents of socialization

Agents of Socialization

Chapter 5 Section 3

  • Sociologists use the term agents of socialization to describe the specific individuals, groups, and institutions that enable socialization to take place.
  • In the U.S., the primary agents of socialization include;
    • family
    • peer group
    • school
    • mass media.
the family
The Family
  • The most important agent of socialization in almost every society.
  • Its primary importance rests in its role as the principal socializer of young children.
  • Socialization can be deliberate or unintended.
    • Ex. A father telling his children about the importance of telling the truth, but he notices many instances where his father is not honest with others.
the family1
The Family
  • Belonging to different subgroups can determine the way children are socialized.
  • Different subgroups may include; racial or ethnic group, social class, religious group, and geographic region.
  • African-American, middle class, Baptists from the south may socialize their children differently from Italian American, working class, Catholics from the Midwest.
the peer group
The Peer Group
  • As children grow older, forces outside of the family increasingly influence them.
  • In particular, children begin to relate more and more to their peer groups, which are a primary group composed of individuals of roughly equal age and similar social characteristics.
  • Peer groups are particularly influential during pre-teenage and early teenage years.
the peer group1
The Peer Group
  • The norms and values imparted by the family usually focus on the larger culture, whereas peer groups focus on subculture of the group.
  • Peer-group goals are sometimes at odds with the goals of larger scale society.
the school
The School
  • Between the ages of 5 and 18, young people spend some 36 weeks a year in school.
  • Because of this, school plays a major role in socializing individuals.
  • Class activities are planned for the deliberate purpose of teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, and other skills.
  • Extracurricular activities are intended to prepare the student for life in the larger society.
the school1
The School
  • A large amount of unintentional socialization also occurs within the school.
  • Teachers may become models for students in such unintended areas as manners of speech or styles of dress.
  • Each school contains many different peer groups that influence the habits of their members.
the mass media
The Mass Media
  • Unlike the others, mass media socialization involves no face-to-face interaction.
  • The mass media are instruments of communication that reach large audiences with no personal contact between those sending the information and those receiving it.
  • The major forms of mass media are books, films, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.
the mass media1
The Mass Media
  • Of these, TV probably has the most influence on the socialization of children.
  • Stats;
    • 98% of households own a TV (most own 2 or more)
    • Children watch an average of 28 hours of TV/week
    • Watching TV is the primary after-school activity for 6-17 year olds (spend twice as much time watching TV as they spend in school)
more stats
More Stats…
  • By age 18, most children will have witnessed 200,000 fictional acts of violence.
  • 16,000 of these are murders.
  • Studies have found a connection between violence and aggressive behavior among young people.
  • Studies also argue that because TV violence appears painless or not harmful, it invites viewers to be less sensitive to the suffering of others.
the mass media2
The Mass Media
  • A long-standing criticism of TV is that it presents an image of a society limited to white middle-class values.
  • The life experiences of many racial, religious, and economic groups are often either ignored or portrayed in a negative light.
  • On the positive side, TV can be a powerful educational tool.
  • A total institution is a setting in which people are isolated from the rest of society for a set period of time and are subject to tight control.
  • Prisons, military boot camps, monasteries, and psychiatric hospitals are examples.
  • Socialization in a total institution differs from the process found in most other settings.
  • Total institutions are only concerned with resocializing their members.
  • Resocialization involves a break with past experiences and the learning of new values and norms.
  • In most cases, total institutions are directed at changing an individual’s personality and social behavior.
  • This is accomplished by stripping away all semblance of individual identity and replacing it with an institutional identity- uniforms, standard haircuts, and so on.
  • The individual is denied freedoms of the outside world.
  • Once the person sense of self is weakened, it is easier for those in power to convince that person to conform to new patterns of behavior.