Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Value Proposition: George Homans (Blog #5)

Walking my dog could benefit his health and mine.  If I don't, I'll be the embarrassed owner of an overweight dog and I'll personally have my own insecurities about my health too.

According to Homans, when it comes to talking about values that is the definite reason why people display their actions.  There has to be a value to what they are doing. Individuals will not do something if they are not affected by it positively. In other words, “the more highly valued a particular result, the more likely a person is to perform that action” (Allan 2011: Pp. 299). It is a voluntary behavior for all people to perform actions, in order to reap some sort of benefit.  We always want to feel good doing something.  That good feeling can be personal or just because it is in our nature to make someone else feel good, by performing a good deed. Homans goes into the type of values humans may display.  The good values are called rewards and the bad values are called punishments. The increase of a reward would make a person perform an action.  However, the increase of a punishment will decrease the performance of that action.  For example, if a child plays well with other children in front of his or her parents, he will not get penalized and he or she will have plenty of friends.  That child will be receiving the reward of popularity among others and satisfaction from his or her parents.  Now, if hat child was being mean to other children and was caught physically harming another child, that child will be scolded by his or her parents.  The child may also not have many friends.  Being excluded is a very bad punishment, especially for a child. “The results of one’s action have positive value when they result in pleasure or reward and the results are negative when they end in punishment” (Moyers 1996: Pp. 149).  Therefore, once that child has been scolded and noticed how no one wants to interact with him or her, he or she will not behavior negatively anymore.  Homans also explicated the two classes of rewards and punishment.  The two classes for rewards are the intrinsic reward and the avoidance of punishment. The two classes of punishment are called the intrinsic punishment and the withholding of reward.  The punishment is very essential when it comes to a person’s behavior.  The punishment value motivates the individual to perform actions that will give those rewards. If they don’t behave poorly, how will they ever know how great receiving a reward is?  After being punished for behaving poorly with his or her playmates, the child will now change his or her behavior positively in order to experience the result of receiving rewards.  Rewards can vary.  The child will not only make friends, after apologizing to his or her playmates, he or she will also be treated differently by his or her parents; in a nice and accepting way of course. Homans introduces the concepts of rewards, costs, and profit. Homans suggests that “a person weighs the rewards against the costs of any potential action, and he or she then endeavors to gain a profit” (Moyers 1996: Pp. 149). Homans defined the cost as the interaction individuals have with one another or just the action itself. For example, the cost of myself, interacting with, let’s say, my dog, one of us will receive a reward of the action.  It costs my energy and time to play with my dog.  My dog reaps the benefits and the reward by enjoying of my company.  The profit I will gain can be anything I believe I will get out of playing with my dog.  It could improve my health change my mood by playing outside and being active.   The reward for my action makes my parents happy that I’m not playing video games and being a couch potato.  Instead, I’m outside playing with my dog, who is extremely happy that he has someone to play with. This example can relate to the frustration-aggression proposition by Homans.  Basically, “if a person doesn’t receive the response he or she expects or receives punishment when expecting a reward, the person will become angry and tend to act out aggressively” (Allan 2011: Pp. 300).  If I did not play with my dog, my dog could have acted aggressively by biting me or just barking in an angry stance. Incorporating everything together, the reward is the dog going out to play with his owner, the cost is the owner’s own laziness of rather watching television than going outside, and the profit is that the owner is being more active and it will definitely change his overall health.  Relating all of this back to the value proposition, the benefit of playing with his dog will not only make his dog happy, but the act of playing can make him happy too.  That is a positive reward of plying with one’s dog.  On the other hand, if the owner did not play with his dog, a different way of looking at it could show that the man would have a very expensive electricity bill by staying indoors.  Also, his dog will be just as lazy and unhealthy as the he is. 

Allan, Kenneth. 2011. The Social Lens: An Invitation to Social and Sociological Theory.
Thousand Oaks, California: Pine Forge Press
Moyers, Tony L. 1996. Wanderings: Exploring Moral Landscapes Past and Present
            Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, Inc.

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