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Balance Theory
Heider (1958) proposes Balance Theory as a simple system for describing the way our environment is perceived by us. He says a person's environment is made up of entities (people, ideas and events), and relations between these entities. Balance theory deals with three kinds of entities. The person (P) whose subjective environment we are concerned with, another person (O); and the object (X), which may be a third person.

Balance theory is concerned with how relations between the three entities, POX, are organised in terms of the person's (P's) cognitive structure. Balance theory proposes that with three entities, person-another person-object (POX), three sets of relations exist i.e. Between P and O; between P and X and; between O and X

Each of the three relations, P-O, P-X and O-X, can have one of two values. You can either 'like' (+) or 'dislike' (-). With three sets of possible relationships, each taking on one of two values (+/-) eight possible states of affairs exists.

Here is a schematic of Heider's Balance Theory, which is represented by eight triads for three entities with positive or negative sentiment relations. The four triads on the left are balanced, the four on the right imbalanced. (Heider, 1958).
Schematic of Heider's Balance Theory
Take the second triad on the left hand. This could be represented as follows.

Jim likes Sally (P + O); Jim is a vegetarian and dislikes eating meat (P - X); Jim believes Sally to dislike meat (O - X). Notice that it is what Jim believes Sally's attitude to be, which may or may not be right. This is a balanced or harmonious state of affairs. By contrast, and using the same people and issues again, take the top triad on the right hand side. This triad presents an uncomfortable state of affairs. Jim likes Sally (P + O); Jim dislikes eating meat (P - X) but this time Jim believes Sally to like eating meat (O + X). Assuming (this is important for Balance theory) the issue of eating meat is important to Jim, something has to change.

A number of options are available to achieve this balance or cognitive consistency. Jim can stop being a vegetarian, and begin to like meat. He could try and persuade Sally to dislike eating meat, or more radically perhaps, Jim could abandon his relationship with Sally.

To predict which attitude is likely to change we would have to know more about the two people. With further information, Rosenberg and Abelson (1960), maintain that attitude change occurs according to a principle of minimum effort, which states that the attitude that requires the least effort to change will be the one that changes. Or to put it more simply the one you feel is the least important to you. Balance theory is quite good with our intuitions about harmony and disharmony between people and the significant things in life. Where it breaks down is when the object (X) is another person. Maybe this is why marriage guidance in a situation of an affair is such a struggle. Why do you think this would be the case? Balance theory has a number of downsides. It suggests that relations between entities are either positive or negative. Degree of like or dislike is not taken into account. It also can only deal with relationships between three entities. Multiple relations often exist between people and/or objects. Generally, Balance theory oversimplifies, but is quite successful within it's own domain.

Our physical characteristics, susceptibility to diseases and disorders, and a range of behavioural characteristics are passed from generation to generation through DNA. DNA is a molecule of smaller units known as bases. There are four different bases found in deoxyribonucleic acid. These connect together into a long chain of bases to form the DNA molecule. The names of these four bases are adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. Or A, C, G, and T respectively.

Behaviourist approach
The behaviourist approach in psychology understands us as a consequence of conditioning. We become conditioned to respond to our environment as a result of leaning by association or operant. Learning by association is attributed to Ivan Pavlov and his theory of classical conditioning, while operant conditioning, or learning by way of reward and unpleasant consequence, is credited to BF Skinner.

Behaviourist Manifesto, The
1. That all behaviour is learned. When born our mind is 'tabula rasa.' (blank slate)
2 That we learn how to behave in response to our environment, by forming stimulus-response (S-R) units of behaviour.
3 That behaviours can be 'unlearned' by breaking these previously formed, stimulus-response (S-R) connection.
4 That what behaviourism discovered regards stimulus-response learning in animals is equally applicable to human beings.
5. That the mind is private and personal and consists of concepts difficult to study in a scientific way. An organism's observable outcomes - their behaviour -should therefore be the focus of study in psychology.
6. That for psychology to be thought a true science, its theories need to be supported by empirical data obtained through the careful and controlled observation and measurement of behaviour in an experimental setting.

Behaviour modification
A category of therapies based upon Skinner's work into operant conditioning. Includes the Token Economy, and Programmed Learning. Behaviour modification concerns the use of reward in the learning process.

Behaviour therapies
A category of therapies based upon Pavlov's theory of classical conditioning. Includes Systematic Desensitisation, Implosion Therapy, and Aversion Therapy.

Between-subjects design
An independent group design is an example of a between-subjects unrelated design used in psychological research. This is because each participant in each group in an IGD experiment experiences only one condition of the independent variable, and therefore only provides data for one manipulation of the IV.

Biological Approach, the
The biological approach understands thoughts, feelings, and behaviours as caused by our biology. In particular, our physiology and genetics. We become ill, medically and/or psychologically, because of physiological or genetic damage, disease, or accident. It is an approach in psychology that examines thoughts, feelings, and behaviours from a medical/biological, or physical point of view. The biological approach, an approach in its own right, also underpins the psychoanalytic approach, the cognitive approach, and the humanistic approach. Can you see why? If not, contact us via the Forum, and we'll try to clarify things for you!

Broca's area
Part of our brain responsible for our ability to articulate (say) speech. [Good way of remembering this is to note that Broca ends in 'a'. NB 'A' for articulation]. Broca had a patient with a head injury who consequently became unable to talk. When he died a post-mortem was carried out, and Broca (1869) discovered damage in a particular part of his brain. There was no damage elsewhere. Broca inferred this area, named after him, is responsible for speech articulation. Want to know where exactly? Oh well then you asked for it. Broca's area is in the inferior frontal gyrus situated in the frontal lobe of our brain. Your teacher would be amazed that you know this! Show off.

Bruner, Jerome
Born 1915 Jerome Bruner is a famous American psychologist. He is a cognitive social learning theorist, agreeing with Piaget to some extent, though disagreeing to another. Bruner sees a relationship between the learner's environment and experiences, and the development of more sophisticated forms of thinking. Central to their more sophisticated thinking styles is language. This is because Bruner says a child develops modes of representation or internal forms of language to think about/problem solve in its world. To get what he/she wants their environment forces them to think and problem solve in a better fashion. Thus between 0-2 we see enactive mode thinking where the baby thinks and problem-solves using gestures, facial expressions, laughing, crying etc. This works until age 2-5 when they begin to use iconic mode thinking, or modes of representing their world. Iconic mode thinking is where mental images are used to remember people, objects etc. By age 7+, the more semantic mode of thinking has developed. This is where the developing child uses language to think about, and deal with, their world. For Bruner, the semantic mode of representation is the key to intellectual growth.
Dyslexia and Myers-Irlen
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