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2S06 Lecture 30.docx

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McMaster University
David Young

Fox 1 Lecture 30 SOCIOL 2S06 Thursday January 30, 3014  The Theoretical Ideas of George Homans Last Class – A) Theoretical Orientation a. Level of Analysis b. View of Individuals B) Building on Behavioural Psychology a. The work of B.F. Skinner i. Work with pigeons – it would be in a cage wandering and would be pecking, eventually it will pick a round target inside the cage and the psychologist would be fed grain (the pigeon associates pecking the target with grain) ii. In Skinner’s language “the pigeons behaviour in pecking the target is an operant”, “the operant has been reinforced”, “grain is the reinforce”, “The pigeon has undergone operant conditioning”, “In short, the pigeon has learned to peck the round target by being rewarded for doing so” b. Application of Skinner’s Work by Homans i. Individual Behaviour 1. Most psychologists did studies on humans or animals to investigate individual behaviour 2. Homans argued individual behaviour does NOT involve a true exchange relationship 3. Eg. In Skinner’s experiments, the pigeon is being reinforced by the grain fed by the psychologist but the psychologist is not being reinforced by the pecks of the pigeon ii. Social Behaviour 1. Sociologists are interested in this – the behaviour of two or more human beings 2. Homans argued that social behaviour does involve an exchange relationship 3. In social behaviour, each person influences the other – there is repricocity, so the two people may reinforce each other’s behaviour 4. Homans argued the basic principles of operant conditioning can be used to understand more than just individual behaviour c. Basic Elements of Exchange Theory i. Exchange theory is concerned with the interaction between people that involves an exchange ii. Interaction between people is likely to continue if there is an exchange that involves rewards or profits iii. Conversely, interaction is likely to be modified or end if the exchange involves punishments or costs to one or more parties iv. Rewards and Punishments 1. Rewards are actions with positive values 2. As a result, rewards for desirable behaviour may encourage more of this behaviour 3. Ex. Interaction b/w parent and child, parent rewards the child for playing quietly with toys with praise so the child is likely to continue to play quietly 4. Punishments are actions with negative values 5. As a result, punishments may discourage undesirable behaviour from occurring again 6. Ex. Child is not playing quietly, is throwing toys around the room so the parent scolds the child 7. Punishments are generally an ineffective way of trying to stop behaviour a. He argues this because people can respond to punishments in different ways/unpredictable ways 8. Ex. Punishments in some cases can be interpreted as a reward  the bad behaviour is just going to continue 9. This is why Homans argues it is generally better to simply not give rewards 10. If the parent just ignores the child when he throws toys, rewa
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