Development Theories Explaining Drunk Driving
Developmental Theories Supporting Drunk Driving
My heart sunk when Angelia called me. I could not believe what happened. He was here yesterday and now he is gone today. How could that be possible? I just talked to him at work about our plans for the weekend. Kevin was my co-worker who was 17 years old. He was loved by all, full of life, and brilliant. Unfortunately, he made a decision that was not the smartest. Angelia, my co-worker, called me in tears telling me Kevin died last night. I could not believe what she had just told me. It was almost too complex for me to comprehend. So many questions began running through my head at that very moment. Did he have cancer that I did not know about? Did he have a fatal disease? Did he get in a car accident? Was he shot? Once I semi comprehended what she had just told me, I asked what had happened. She quickly said he was in a car accident. My immediate reaction was to blame the other car involved in the accident. However, once Angelia revealed more details to me, I began to realize there was nobody to blame other than Kevin. Kevin was at a high school party that night and had been drinking. Due to his illogical reasoning, he got in the car to drive home; however, he never made it there. He hit the median of the road 3 minutes away from his home head on and died at the scene. Unfortunately, Kevin is not the only one that has a similar story. According to the CDC, one in 10 teens in high school drinks and drives (CDC, 2012). Although this number may seem high to some, it has actually decreased in the past 27 years. The percentage of teens in high school who drink and drive has decreased by more than half since 1991 (CDC, 2012). Although the number has decreased, we need to strive for that number to decrease even more with a goal of it being zero one day. If a school principal came to me asking for ideas on why drunk driving occurs and what the school can do about it, I would tell them they need to understand the human development theories in order to fully realize the reasoning for their actions. It is important to look at why some teenagers drink and drive to figure out the cause of their illogical thinking and behavior so it can hopefully be prevented. The three human development theories of Social Learning Theory, Operant Conditioning, and Psychosocial Theory can help explain why teenagers drink and drive.
Social Learning Theory
The first theory that sufficiently supports the reason teens may drink and drive is the Social Learning Theory. According to the Social Learning Theory established by Albert Bandura, people actively process information and their thoughts and feelings influence their behavior (Kuther, 2017). Within the Social Learning Theory is Observational Theory which states that people learn through observing and imitating models which is one of the most powerful ways in which we learn (Kuther, 2017). This directly applies to the issue of driving under the influence because our environment and surroundings have a large impact on our behavior. People are more likely to imitate someone if the target person they see is popular, smart, or talented and is rewarded rather than punished (Kail, 2016). The idea of imitation is a possible explanation for why the high school students are participating in such behavior. If the students that are drinking and driving are highly respected, then other students will be more likely to model the behavior in similar ways.
The idea of self-efficacy also factors into the Social Learning Theory and helps explain this behavior. Self-efficacy is the belief that one can be successful or feeling a sense of control over ones lives and experiences. One’s actions are generated from their belief on how capable they are of a behavior or task (Avci, 2012). If a student has high self-efficacy in regards to drinking and driving, they are confident that they will have control over the situation. Regardless of the situation, if people around you are partaking in a behavior, you are likely to partake in it as well. Furthermore, if those around you are drinking and driving, you are likely to do that as well. This idea is especially true if it happens repetitively which can be further explained by operant conditioning.
Skinner’s theory of Operant Conditioning is a relevant theory when explaining why teenagers drink and drive (Kuther, 2017). According to the textbook, Operant Conditioning emphasizes the role of environmental stimuli in shaping behavior through reinforcement and punishment (Kuther, 2017). Operant Conditioning emphasizes that a behavior resulting in a good outcome is more likely to be repeated; however, a behavior resulting in a bad outcome is more likely to be ended. Within Operant Conditioning, there are both punishments and reinforcements (Kuther, 2017). A punishment is a behavior followed by an aversive or unpleasant outcome; whereas, a reinforcement is a behavior followed by a rewarding or pleasant outcome (Kuther, 2017). Based on this idea, a reinforcement increases the likeliness of a repeated behavior and a punishment decreases the chances of a repeated behavior. The idea of reinforcement is also categorized into both negative and positive. A negative reinforcement is one in which a person’s behavior is rewarded by the elimination of things that do not please them. Positive reinforcement rewards with things such as money or praise (Kuther, 2017). On the other hand, punishment decreases the chances of someone repeating a certain behavior because it is viewed as unfavorable (Kuther, 2017).
This shows that Operant Conditioning applies to the behavioral issue the principal is facing. If a student is being praised by his/her peers for their behavior, in this case drunk driving, they are more likely to continue the behavior. This is especially true if the student gets home safely while driving under the influence. If the student gets home safely once, they will assume they will arrive safely every time which will result in the behavior being repeated. This is an example of reinforcement because the behavior is occurring multiple times. With punishments, reinforcements, and imitations, teenagers are more likely to partake in the behavior or drunk driving.
Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory is a relevant theory in understanding why teenagers drink and drive (Kuther, 2017). This theory of development emphasizes that individuals progress through eight stages of psychosocial development that include changes in how they understand and interact with others, as well as changes in how they understand themselves and their roles as members of society (Kuther, 2017). The eight stages demonstrate the different challenges faced throughout one’s lifetime. Although there are eight stages, there is one in particular that is most relevant to teenage drunk driving which is Identity vs. Identity Confusion (Kuther, 2017). This stage focuses on the idea that young adults seek to develop solid relationships and commitments to different aspects of their lives (Kuther, 2017). During this time, teenagers are figuring out who to associate themselves with. In high school, students are exposed to a wide range of people with varying personalities, hobbies, academic levels, and goals. Some students will be making smart decisions while others will not. This is a time when teenagers feel pressured to either fit in and be part of the popular students or follow what they morally believe. They may not only be influenced by those at their school, but by those around their community as well. Depending on the stage of life individuals are in, they are more likely to be involved with drunk driving.
According to Sokol who studied the Psychosocial Theory, increased independence and autonomy leads to greater interactions with neighborhoods, communities, and schools (2009). This can be both positive and negative depending on what the student does with their resources. Some may get involved in sports and after school activities; however, some may use these relationships to learn about opportunities to drink. During this complicated stage of life, the individual faces challenges in discovering their own identity, struggles with social interactions, and forms their sense of morality (The Psychology HQ, 2013). Teenagers must decide if they think driving under the influence is morally correct. As mentioned, morality is a challenged idea during this stage. Because they struggle with social interactions, they may be scared to ask for a sober ride home if they are drunk. This fear may lead them to drinking and driving. In the Identity vs. Identify Confusion stage, drunk driving is likely to occur.
Social Learning Theory, Operant Conditioning, and Psychosocial Theory all help explain why teenagers drink and drive. However, Operant Conditioning supports this behavior the strongest. Because positive punishment weakens an undesired behavior by attaching an unpleasant stimulus to a behavior, I would suggest the principal gets in contact with the police department (Kuther, 2017). If the police department has greater awareness of neighborhoods that tend to have more parties than others, they can watch those areas closely to give out tickets or consequences. If consequences are associated with the behavior of drunk driving, teenagers will discontinue the behavior. On the other hand, positive reinforcement can also be used (Kuther, 2017). Although drinking under the age of 21 is illegal, there will be still be high schoolers that are involved in the behavior. If a student is praised for not driving under the influence or for finding a sober ride, they are more likely to continue doing that positive action. The principal can send out an email to parents educating them of this concept. Parents can praise their children for making safe decisions which will reinforce the idea of not drunk driving. References
Avci, O. (2012). The relationship between transformational leadership behaviors of faculty supervisors and self-efficacies of graduate assistants (Order No. 3513111). Available from ProQuest Dissertations ; Theses A;I. (1024732976). Retrieved from http://proxy.mul.missouri.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/1024732976?accountid=14576Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Teen Drinking and Driving. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/teendrinkinganddriving/index.htmlKail, R. (2016). Essentials of Human Development: A Life-Span View. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://books.google.com/books?id=GiNTCwAAQBAJ;pg=PT42;lpg=PT42;dq=people+are+more+likely+to+imitate+if+the+person+is+they+see+is+popular,+smart,+or+talented;source=bl;ots=AHK1fn2HaI;sig=GUOXSws-
Kuther, T. (n.d.). Bookshelf Online. Retrieved February 15, 2018, from https://mizzou.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781483368832/cfi/6/76!/4/2/4/[email protected]:0Sokol, Justin T. (2009) “Identity Development Throughout the Lifetime: An Examination of Eriksonian Theory,” Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology: Vol. 1 : Iss. 2 , Article 14. Retrived from: https://epublications.marquette.edu/gjcp/vol1/iss2/14The Psychology Notes HQ. Erikson’s Stages of Development- Stages 5 and 6. (2013). Retrieved https://www.psychologynoteshq.com/eriksonstagesofdevelopment5-6
Rubric: Papers will be graded according to the benchmarks shown below. A plus sign (+) means that the benchmark was exceeded (excellent work), an X indicates that the benchmark was met but can be refined (good work), and a minus sign (-) means that there is noticeable room for improvement.
Introduction __________8 points
The introduction introduces the reader to the topic and justifies why it is important to look at why some teenagers drink and drive.
The introduction provides a transition to the rest of the paper.
The introduction clearly tells the reader what the paper will focus on—how theories help us understand why some teenagers drive intoxicated.
Body __________14 points
The paper addresses three of the appropriate theories.
The description of each theory is accurate and sufficiently detailed.
The theory is appropriately used to explain driving while intoxicated.
Two scholarly sources on theories are successfully integrated into the text of the paper.
Conclusion __________8 points
The conclusion clearly states and defends which theory is best for understanding the phenomenon of driving while intoxicated even when knowing it is dangerous to do so.
Advice regarding how to reduce drinking and driving is provided to the school principal.
The conclusion moves beyond simple summary to include implications for the future or thoughtful analysis of the topic. The conclusion leaves the reader with some new, interesting, or important ideas for the future.
Organization __________15 points
Organization is clear; main topics and/or sections are logically arranged.
Ideas flow logically within and between paragraphs.
Paragraph divisions are logical, and appropriate transitions are provided.
Subheadings are used to break up the text.
Paper stays within the page limit (5 full pages of text).
Writing Quality __________15 points
Writing is clear.
Writing is professional (e.g., avoids conversational tone, contractions, and first person, uses APA format, relies on the active voice).
Paper shows evidence of careful proofreading and editing.
Spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc., are correct and do not detract attention from the content.
TOTAL = _________ 60 points