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RESEARCH OF IMPULSIVE AND VOLITIONAL BEHAVIOR AMONG CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Автор Доклада: 
D. Nadirashvili
Награда: 
RESEARCH OF IMPULSIVE AND VOLITIONAL BEHAVIOR AMONG CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

RESEARCH OF IMPULSIVE AND VOLITIONAL BEHAVIOR AMONG CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

Dimitri Nadirashvili, Doctor of Psychological Sciences, Professor, Head
Clinical Psychology Department,
D. uznadze Institute of Psychology

 

The paper is an experimental research of children and youth. We studied volitional and impulsive behavior. The experiment was designed in a way that a youngster was to effect impulsive or volitional behavior. The findings of the experiment showed how will power develops in parallel with age increase. The data indicate that there is a difference based on gender among youth; namely, at each stage of research girls are characterized by relatively more volitional behavior, which is due to cultural specificities of upbringing.
Formation of will power plays the biggest role in the process of the formation of a child’s personality. It is a difficult and sometimes impossible task for a child to manage and replace the action based on I want with the principle of need requirement. Like juveniles, society often fails to effect a reasonable, thoughtful behavior and is doomed to failure.
Our goal was the study of will power development with age. To see the condition of children and youth in our society from age 3 to 18, in terms of impulsiveness and will power; for this purpose we designed an experiment under which it was possible to effect volitional or impulsive behavior.
Volitional behavior is future-oriented, is prospective; it involves objectivization of “self” and behavior, it is based on the decision of “I”(Ego), is conscious and resists the impulse of actual need. Volitional behavior, unlike the impulse of need, is a result of the activity of “I”(Ego).
If we compare volitional and impulsive behavior, we will clearly see that there is substantial difference between them. In case of impulsive behavior, main source of behavior is need. As soon as the need emerges, the subject will effect relevant behavior; impulsive behavior starts with the impulse of actual need and ends with the act of satisfying it. While in the case of volitional behavior, impulse of actual need is not the source of action, but something entirely different, which may even contradict with it.
Every case of volitional behavior is characterized by objectivization of “self” and behavior; another aspect emerges in the peculiarity of behavior and the perception of “self”. The behavior itself is directed to the future, desired result should be received later, not immediately;
We can name some features of volitional behavior wherewith it is different from the remaining types of activity. These are:
In the case of volitional behavior the impulse of actual need never results in an action: behavior is never based on the impulse of actual need;
Objectivization of “self” and behavior takes place in case of volitional behavior: “I” (Ego) resists with own impulsive needs.
The behavior is not directed at the present, but to future; will power is prospective;
“I” (Ego) plans this future-oriented behavior consciously in advance and its realization is fully up to “me”; volitional behavior is fully perceived as the activity of “me” (Ego).
Volitional behavior process is comprised of three periods: 1) period of preparation of decision which identifies the reasons for decision; 2) the decision period itself; 3) period of fulfillment of decision;

Undertaking the Experiment
A total of 475 experiment subjects of ages (40-40 subjects from each age) participated in the experiment.
Our subjects are kindergarten children aged 2-3, 4-5 and 6-9, 10-13, 15-18 year old school students.
Our experiment is designed in a way that allows a subject to act under voluntary choice in one direction from two different directions, of which one corresponds to impulsive behavior, another is volitional behavior.

Description of the experiment
Two nicely wrapped gifts are placed separately on the table in front of a child, one smaller, another – larger.
The child is given the following direction: there are two gifts in front of you. One is big, another is smaller; if you chose the small gift I will be able to give it to you right away, and if you refuse both gifts now, I will give you a larger gift later (after lunch, classes).
A subject of experiment that opted for a smaller gift, we would regard his/her behavior impulsive, and those who would opt for a larger gift, this would be strong volitional behavior.
This was the instruction we were giving to each child.

Outcomes and figures (%)

Data of the differences between figures by choice for all five groups taken together

Data of the differences between figures by choice for all five groups taken together

1st group. We can observe higher demonstration of impulsive behavior – 94%, and lower expression of strong will.

1st group. We can observe higher demonstration of impulsive behavior – 94%, and lower expression of strong will.
2nd group. In this group, too, impulsive behavior is higher – 56%, compared to volitional behavior – 44%, but the difference between 1st and 2nd group is demonstrated by that compared to 1st group in the 2nd group impulsive behavior is decreasing and volitional behavior is increasing, although ultimately impulsive behavior is higher than volitional one.
3rd group. This group differs from 1st and 2nd groups by high indicator of will power – 62%, i.e., we observe a high leap, which is different from 1st and 2nd groups in that in 1st – 94% and in 2nd group – 56% impulsive behavior was leading, and for this group will power is dominating with 62%.
4th group. In this group, compared to group 3, where volitional behavior was 62%, it further increased, to 70%.
5th group. In this group, too, volitional behavior is dominating.
Differences in choice emerge by the age of the children: in 2-3 year old children impulsive behavior is leading with 94%, and with 56% in 4-5 year olds, i.e., they give preference to a small gift, while 62% of 6-9 year old children, 70% of 10-13 year old ones, and 69% of 15-18 year old adolescents opted for larger gift, i.e., volitional behavior was dominating. Therefore, volitional behavior increases with the increase of age. This was how it was expected.
Findings
1. The data of the experiment prove our expectation. It is identified that volitional behavior increase and impulsive behavior decreases with the growing of a child.
2. Behavior of the majority of pre-school age children (2-5 years), according to the information of our experiment, impulsive (56%) behavior is predominant; at the primary school age (6-9 years) majority of children demonstrate volitional behavior (62%).
3. Experimental data show that almost at every stage of development girls are characterized by more volitional behavior than boys. This is probably due to the upbringing and the socialization process.
4. At each stage of development volitional behavior increases against impulsive behavior; exception is the experiment of selecting a large or small gift among boys, the development stage from 10-13 years to 15-18 years, where the indicator of volitional behavior decreases; and among girls, this indicator, similar to previous stages, increases.
5. Based on our findings, boys (15-18 years) are characterized with more impulsive behavior, than during the previous period (10-13 years). According to this data, at the mentioned age they are characterized by impulsive actions in everyday situations.

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It has a pedagogical importance

Dear Dimitri! I have read the results of your research that the volitional behavior increases with the increase of age. I think it has a pedagogical importance. Did you have experience of cooperation with teachers of primary and secondary schools? Olexandr Josan, Kirovograd, Ukraine
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