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Facial cues, empathy and the theory of social behaviorism

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Title: Facial cues, empathy and the theory of social behaviorism
Authors: Carlson, Gary Edward
Keywords: Facial expression
Issue Date: 1975
Abstract: Research literature reviewed by Ekman, Friesen and Ellsworth (1972) indicated that facial cues may serve as reliable indicators of an individual's emotional state, that these emotional facial cues are influenced by culturally learned display rules, and that the emotional cues appear to have pan-cultural or innate characteristics. Berger (1962) offered a theoretical basis for several types of vicariously instigated emotional responses which are dependent upon the perceived emotional state of a second individual. Empathy was defined as concordant vicarious instigation. Envy and sadism (examples of contrast empathy) were defined as discordant vicarious instigation. Staats' (1968, 1970, 1975) theory of Social Behaviorism provided the theoretical rationale for integrating the research findings in emotional facial behavior and empathy by proposing a two-factor theory of learning to explain and predict complex human behavior. Additionally, he described several methodological research techniques involving classical and instrumental conditioning with attitudinal stimuli. The present study used classical and instrumental conditioning procedures using posed photographs of happy facial cues and neutral facial cues to investigate the formation and function of empathic and contrast empathic behaviors in intermediate school children. Three different groups of children were classically conditioned to have either positive, negative or neutral attitudes toward a standard set of photographs of five stimulus-persons. Subsequently, photographs of the same five stimulus-persons showing happy and neutral facial cues were used as reinforcers in an instrumental task. It was predicted that the results would support Berger's (1962) formulation of empathy and envy, and Staats' (1968, 1970, 1975) theory of complex human behavior. Analysis of the instrumental response data, instrumental latency data, and classical conditioning data offered only weak, suggestive evidence that conditioning had occurred. A second experiment replicating the classical conditioning phase of the first experiment was conducted and significant results were obtained for both main effect variables, Attitudes and Affect. This was taken as evidence that classical conditioning had been obtained in the first experiment, but with a strength too weak to achieve instrumental conditioning using conditioned stimuli as instrumental reinforcers. Consequently, none of the hypotheses tested in this study were substantiated. Recommendations were made to modify both classical and instrumental conditioning procedures for the purpose of repeating the study.
Description: Typescript.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1975.
Bibliography: leaves [98]-101.
vi, 101 leaves ill
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Educational Psychology

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