Within everyday life people believe themselves to be constantly changing. In actuality, the changes that one believes to have are but minor changes. A person s personality is usually set at an early age in childhood. A social psychologist named George Herbert Mead understood society through socialization stems he called social behaviorism. Mead and another psychologist by the name of John B. Watson worked together on this approach. Watson focused on outward behavior in this partnership of ideas. However, Mead emphasized on inward thinking, which he contended was humanity s defining trait.
The back-bone of Mead s study and the central concept is the self. The self being “A dimension of personality composed of an individual s self-awareness and self-image.” According to Mead, the self matures through social experiences. It can not grow with the body or with the mind. Mead also explains how social experience is the exchange of symbols. This could be done with words, facial expressions, or by bodily motions as simple as waving hello or good-bye to someone. This type of learned knowledge is only found in humans, although a dog might respond to its name or roll-over upon seeing your hand movement it will not be able to consider or think about why it is being done. The dog only understands that it will be rewarded with food or affection.
This knowledge will teach the essitsial steps for communications, however, most importantly, to understand intention. To understand or imagine a situation from the another person s point of view. Symbols are needed to put ourselves in another person s shoes and predict their actions from what we know of their patterns, which in turn, helps us to choose the actions where the results were planned for.
A good example of this taking place is when a young Jennifer at the age of six wants to be picked up and she knows that while dad is sitting in the easy-chair no matter how much she irritates him or cries, dad won t pick her up. She knows this through the process of imagining the situation and accessing the outcome. Jennifer also knows that if she goes to mom while her soap operas are on and is refused in being carried she can make alot of noise playing near the television until mom picks her up to keep her from being too loud. This process is understanding intentions, and being able to imagine another person s point of view. Young Jennifer s self has developed enough at the age of six to be able to use the process that Mead called taking the role of the other.
Mead was an active reformer and studying society was an ongoing process to him. He believed in the contention that society may have the power to shape individuals, but people also have the capacity to mold their society.