This article throws light upon the three important psychological processes involved in socialisation. The processes are: 1. The Perceptual Process 2. Learning Process 3. Motivational Processes.
1. The Perceptual Process:
It is obvious that no learning is possible if the individual is not effective in being sensitive and organising the stimulations to which he is exposed. This is true of social learning and, socialisation also. Effective interaction and acquisition of adaptive social behaviour depends on one’s ability to observe others, understand them and react to them.
The reader will later on come across a discussion of the topic ‘social cognition’ and understand how it plays a very important role in social behaviour. He will also come to appreciate, how social perception which mainly refers to the perception of others is different from perception of physical objects. It is a complex process influenced by a number of factors.
2. Learning Process:
The learning process, of course, forms the main basis of social learning or socialisation. Learning is a very complex process. There are different types of learning; learning by trial and error, learning by conditioning, learning through imitation, learning by insight etc. Similarly he will also learn about terms like incidental learning, and other categories of learning.
All these kinds of learning operations are involved in the process of socialisation. During the early years of a child, probably, conditioning, trial and error learning, and perhaps, to some extent even imitation play a very important role in the process of socialisation.
But, as the individual grows and begins to enter into more complex interactions, and as his basic perceptual and cognitive abilities develop, cognitive learning, learning through modelling and other complex processes of learning come into operation. Much of adult social learning takes place through the latter categories of learning.
3. Motivational Processes:
Researchers in the field of socialisation have tended to take two different views of the whole process of socialisation. One view holds that the child is very passive, does not play an active role and merely responds to stimulations from the environment. He is almost like a piece of wax on whom anything can be stamped.
If one accepts this view, then the individual will just be a mirror of his environment, or even perhaps, a photocopy of his experiences. The other view, however, holds that this is not the case. According to this view, the child is an active and dynamic participant in the process of socialisation, and brings his own individuality to bear on the process of socialisation.
He organises, interprets and only then reacts to experiences and therefore cannot be regarded either as a piece of wax or as a photocopy. Most of the S-R, theories and learning theories subscribe to the former view, while those who subscribe to dynamic theory of human behaviour and those who subscribe to the humanistic, organismic and phenomenological views of human nature subscribe to the latter view.
Perhaps, there is some truth in both. While the very young child may be relatively more passive, as the years go by and the child grows, he or she comes to play a more active role and becomes active and even selective in what he perceives and learns. From this stage onwards, motivational processes come to play a more active role.
Needs for acceptance, affiliation, recognition, achievement, and similar other needs come to play decisive roles, in the process of socialisation. Many of these needs, according to some psychologists, are acquired during the process of socialisation and are regarded as secondary needs or drives, but other theories like those of Maslow and Murrary hold the view that these Reeds are universal and intrinsic to human nature, though probably unfolding themselves at different stages of the process of human growth and development.
Whatever be the sources of these needs, whether they are acquired or innate, once they are aroused they actively influence the process of social interaction and thereby socialisation. Thus, as a child grows, the motivational system acquires importance and plays a very crucial role, to the point of playing a determining role in the locus of the perceptual and learning processes. It may thus be seen that perception, learning and motivation are the three basic psychological processes which are actively involved in the process of socialisation.
The ultimate effectiveness of the process of socialisation depends on the integrated and interrelated operation of all these three. Perception, motivation and learning represent basic behavioural processes in the human being and work in an integrated and consolidated manner.