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COURSE NOTES: Personality

Chapter 12:
Mischel & Bandura

Based on the following textbook, with supplements and modifications by the author:
Cloninger, S. (2004). Theories of Personality: Understanding Persons (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NY: Prentice Hall.
Instructors who have adopted this text may obtain supplementary Powerpoint presentations from the publisher.

term denotes a term that you should know how to define, and to recognize and give examples.

person denotes an important person. You should remember this person's name and what (s)he has done.

findingdenotes an important research finding.

issuedenotes an issue that you should be able to discuss or explain.

Chapter 12: 

Mischel and Bandura: Cognitive Social Learning Theory

Traits in Cognitive Social Learning Theory: personMischel

The Trait Controversy: Mischel's Challenge

termpersonality coefficient
  • (r = .30)
  • average relationship between self-report personality measures and behavior
  • little consistency across situations
  • (greater temporal consistency)

The Consistency Paradox

  • discrepancy between intuition and empirical findings
  • common sense (intuition): consistency
  • findingresearch evidence (empirical): little consistency

The Situational Context of Behavior

situational hedges: "Person does x when y."

"Johnny will hit back [behavior] when teased [situational hedge]."

Imagine combinations of these behaviors:

  • hit
  • cry
  • smile
  • With any of these situations:
    • ... when pushed.
    • ... when teased.
    • ... when complimented
  • Some combinations make sense; others are bizarre (and observers may consider them “psychotic”).
  • Meaningful combinations are consistent for various normal personality traits:
    • aggressive
    • friendly
    • withdrawn

Illustration of a Dispositional Construct (Shyness) as an If-Then Linkage between a Category of Conditions and a Category of Behaviors [See Figure 12.1 in the Cloninger text on page 357.]

Cognitive Person Variables

Encoding Strategies and Personal Constructs

termpersonal constructs: trait terms people use to describe themselves and other people

  • hard-working
  • passionate

termprototypes: typical exemplars of "fuzzy" categories

situational descriptions

descriptions of events

(must assess individual meanings of stimuli)


  • behavioral
  • cognitive

Examples of Cognitive and Behavioral Construction Competencies:

  • Sexual gender identity
  • Knowing structure of the physical world
  • Social rules and conventions
  • Personal constructs about self, others
  • Rehearsal strategies for learning


termBehavior-Outcome Expectancies
  • If I study 3 hours, will I get an A ?
  • If I run, will I catch the bus?

termStimulus-Outcome Expectancies

  • What will happen next?

termSelf-Efficacy Expectancies

  • Can I do it?

termSubjective Stimulus Values

desirability of outcomes (given the particular individual’s goals or values)

termSelf-Regulatory Systems and Plans

termDelay of Gratification

findingMischel's research with children

  • visibility of reward
  • thinking about something else
  • modeling

findingPreschool Children Who are Better Able to Delay of Gratification Become High Schoolers Who:

  • are attentive and can concentrate
  • can put their ideas into words
  • are reasonable
  • keep calm
  • deal with stress maturely

Delay of gratification is a core "ego strength"

  • predicts cognitive & social competence later

Performance in Cognitive Social Learning Theory: personBandura

termReciprocal Determinism

mutual influences of
  • B: behavior
  • P: person
  • E: environment

Self-Regulation of Behavior: The termSelf-System

[See Figure 12.3 in the Cloninger text on page 366]

self-observation (of performance)

judgmental process (standards)

self-response (e.g., rewards)


Efficacy and Striving Toward Goals

Physiological Correlates of Efficacy

Processes Influencing Learning

Attentional Processes: Observing the Behavior

Model: distinctive, affective valence, complexity, prevalence, functional value

Observer: sensory capacities, arousal level, motivation, perceptual set, past reinforcement

Retention Processes: Remembering It

symbolic coding, cognitive organization, symbolic rehearsal, motor rehearsal

Motor Reproduction Processes: Doing It

physical capabilities, availability of component responses, self-observation of reproductions, accuracy feedback

Motivational Processes: Wanting It

external reinforcement, vicarious reinforcement, self-reinforcement

Observational Learning and Modeling

Learning may occur without reinforcement.

vicarious learning


  • modeling
  • power vs. status effects

standards for behavior

Modeling of Self-Reinforcement

  • findingWith superior models, young boys demand better performance of themselves on a bowling task before rewarding themselves.

Modeling of Aggression

  • Filmed models
  • Learning is not always evident in performance.
  • findingBoth boys and girls imitate aggression more often if the aggressive model is rewarded than if the model is punished. Regardless of condition, boys are (on average) more aggressive than girls.

Modeling also occurs in adulthood.


use learning principles


treatment of phobias, etc.

varies with behavioral domain

High self-efficacy leads to persistence toward our goals.

Efficacy expectations and outcome expectations. [graphic presented in lecture]

Changing Efficacy Expectations Through Therapy

  • Performance accomplishments
  • Vicarious experience
  • Verbal persuasion
  • Emotional arousal


    • participant modeling
    • performance desensitization
    • performance exposure
    • self-instructed performance


    • live modeling
    • symbolic modeling


    • suggestion
    • exhortation
    • self-instruction
    • interpretive treatments


    • attribution
    • relaxation
    • biofeedback
    • symbolic desensitization
    • symbolic exposure

Efficacy and Striving Toward Goals: The goals we set are important.

The Person in the Social Environment

termCollective efficacy helps us achieve difficult goals together.

termmoral disengagement: failure to regulate one's behavior to live up to high moral standards

  • cheating, because "everyone is doing it"
  • being cruel, without thinking of individual responsibility

web links:

An interview with Albert Bandura:

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Ch. 1: Introduction
Ch. 2: Freud
Ch. 3: Jung
Ch. 4: Adler
Ch. 5: Erikson
Ch. 6: Horney & Relational
Ch. 7: Allport
Ch. 8: Cattell & Big Five
Ch. 9: Biological
Ch. 10: Skinner & Staats
Ch. 11: Dollard & Miller
Ch. 12: Mischel & Bandura
Ch. 13: Kelly
Ch. 14: Rogers
Ch. 15: Maslow
Ch. 16: Conclusion