Mead’s Theory of Social Behaviorism

George Herbert Mead was a renowned American philosopher, sociologist, and psychologist who contributed significantly to the development of symbolic interactionism. Mead’s theory of social behaviorism is an essential cornerstone in understanding how individuals interact with their environment. It emphasizes the importance of social interactions and language in shaping an individual’s personality.

The Basics of Mead’s Theory

Mead’s theory is based on three key elements: language, gestures, and symbols. According to Mead, individuals develop their sense of self through social interactions with others. He believed that humans are unique because they can take on the perspective of others and use this to guide their behavior.

Language

Language is a critical aspect of Mead’s theory. He argued that language allows individuals to communicate and exchange ideas with one another.

Through language, we can express our thoughts and feelings, make requests, give commands, and negotiate meanings. Language enables us to create shared meanings and understandings.

Gestures

Gestures refer to non-verbal actions that convey meaning. They include facial expressions, body posture, tone of voice, and other physical cues. According to Mead, gestures are significant because they allow individuals to share meanings without using words explicitly.

Symbols

Symbols are shared representations that stand for something else. They can be words or objects such as flags or logos. Symbols allow individuals to create meaning beyond what is immediately present in their environment.

The Role of the Self in Mead’s Theory

Mead believed that the self emerges from social interactions with others. He argued that the self consists of two components: the “I” and the “me.” The “I” represents our spontaneous impulses and desires while the “me” represents society’s expectations and norms.

Mead’s theory suggests that individuals must learn to balance their spontaneous desires with societal expectations. The self is not something we are born with; it is something that develops over time through social interactions with others.

The Importance of Socialization

Mead’s theory emphasizes the importance of socialization in shaping an individual’s personality. He believed that individuals learn to behave in ways that are appropriate for their culture and society through a process of socialization. Socialization occurs through interactions with family, peers, and other significant figures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mead’s theory of social behaviorism provides a unique perspective on how individuals develop their sense of self. It emphasizes the importance of language, gestures, and symbols in shaping our understanding of the world around us.

Mead’s theory also highlights the role of socialization in shaping an individual’s personality. Through social interactions with others, we learn to balance our spontaneous impulses with societal expectations, which ultimately shapes who we are as individuals.