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Ap Psychology Case Study Colleen

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Colleen is attending college “up North” and having a challenging time adjusting to the new culture and expectations of her environment. Being from Mississippi, Colleen has always been proud of her family’s Civil War heritage and enjoyed hearing her parent and grandparents tell stories about her linage. She even spoke with a Southern accent that was thicker than either of her parents to demonstrate her pride. In high school, she was elected to a prestigious position in the Daughters of the Confederacy where she could organize events and socialize with influential members of the community. Colleen was very popular as she frequently hosted events and parties, always wanting the right people in the right place. She was a member of the cheerleading …show more content…
Colleen realized that Northerners did not have the same values or interests as her friends and family in the South. Quickly, Colleen began to feel out of place and even her boyfriend, who she had moved for, broke up with her to date another girl. Despite being an intelligent girl, Colleen’s grades were poor, because she did not feel comfortable speaking up in class. Other girls wore different clothes and even told her to tone down her Southern accent as they thought it made her sound less intelligent. She became melancholy and was considering returning to the South to attend college near her family. Colleen was demonstrating a few of B.F. Skinner’s concepts through her actions, thoughts, and behaviors. She was accustomed to a certain environment filled with its own stimuli and appropriate responses. There are three concepts that best describe Colleen’s struggle in the context of Skinner’s theory. First, Colleen was introduced to generalized conditioned reinforcers at an early age. She was also experiencing generalization in her unfamiliar environment before being able to use discrimination and determine the differences in desired …show more content…
Colleen’s family, being from Mississippi, could trace their lineage back to the Civil War and were proud of their heritage. As a result, her family was excited when anyone showed an interested in the family history. This lead to generalized conditioned reinforcers or praise and affection that has the power to reinforce a vast number of different behaviors (Engler, p. 202). This concept can be introduced in several ways; either from an outside individual giving praise or rewards (i.e. food, allowance) or it can be self-given through positive self-talk. Our text indicates that eventually a child will work primarily for the reinforcement of praise. In Colleen’s case, the reinforcers came from family members in response to her expressed interest in her family’s history. When Colleen would indicate she wanted to know more about the family heritage she would be rewarded with smiles, hugs, and kisses. In this instance, the smiles and physical affection were the conditioned reinforcers that reinforced her interest in her family history. This same concept could be applied to how Colleen attracted boys while in high school. She was frequently asked out and desired, which reinforced her behavior of acting as if she was dumb, dressing in expensive clothes, and doing her

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