Compare Mechanistic and Reciprocal Interactionism

Post your response to the following: Compare mechanistic and reciprocal interactionism. Give an example of reciprocal interactionism (influences among a person, a situation, and a behavior). Provide an example of mechanistic interactionism (a trait, a situation, and the relationship between a situation and trait).

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It appears that mechanistic interactionism has to do with isolated behavior patterns as being explained through the interaction of situation, traits, and the interaction between situation and traits. If that were not hard enough to conceptualize, next is reciprocal interactionism. This theory of interactionism seems much closer to reality. Indeed in reality traits, situation, and behavior all impact each other in an endless, reciprocal manner. This theory seeks to quantify a complex set of behavior patterns, such as the interaction between personality and job preference. An example of reciprocal interactionism would be the relationship between types of learning (i.e. distance learning or site-based learning), personality traits, and behavioral patterns (i.e. learning preferences). For instance, the situation would be a distance learning class. The behavior might be poor grades in a particular class. Influences among the person might be that person’s inability to complete an assignment without first knowing exactly how to complete the assignment. Conversely, an example of mechanistic interactionism would be that people with higher self-esteem would buy better quality groceries. In this case, the trait would be high self-esteem. The situation would be the choice between cheaper, lower quality food and more expensive, higher quality food. It could be hypothesized that people with higher self-esteem would value their health more and therefore buy better food.

Do you support one view over the other? Why?

I do prefer mechanistic interactionism over reciprocal interactionism. Reciprocal interactionism seems to be akin to understand how each strand of DNA affects the growth of a person, while also considering environmental factors and health factors. It just seems like too complex a question to be answered in any meaningful, quantifiable manner. However mechanistic interactionism seeks to explain the relationship between one situation, a set of personality traits and their interaction. I would always choose to get a definite answer rather than a sufficient generalization.

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McAdams, D.P. (2006). The person: A new introduction to personality psychology. Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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