Development of personality in adulthood is one of the most complex yet insufficiently studied issue. As regards the psychological development, studies demonstrate a significantly positive change in the personality of adults with age advancing to higher levels of expertise, as well as better stages of moral development and motivational impulses of a greater order, even to different kinds of defense mechanisms used in difficult situations. In these terms, it appears to be strange that people in middle adulthood employ such deviant behavioral model as prostitution. Therefore, the current paper is to deal with the causes of middle-aged individuals leading to such divergent activity in terms of Bandura theory of social learning.
Social Learning Theory
Talking about the Bandura theory, it signifies the reciprocal (reverse) links between behavior, subjectivity, and environmental variables. The researcher cautions that humans’ learning is largely determined by the processes of modeling, observation and imitation. Furthermore, the theory is concentrated on the notion that this learning is performed without the traditional reinforcements, which require the principles of operant and classical conditioning (Bandura, 1997). Bandura believes that reward and punishment are not sufficient enough in teaching new behaviors (Reed et al., 2010). People tend to acquire new behavior through simulation models. Hence, another form of learning is through observation, imitation and identification. One of the manifestations of imitation is self-identification which is termed as a process of borrowing thoughts, feelings or actions of another person, who serves as a model (Bandura, 1997). It leads to the fact that one can imagine oneself in the place of the model and experience empathy, complicity, sympathy for this person (Reed et al., 2010).
Learning through observation is neither constant nor automatic (Reed et al, 2010). In fact, the chosen learning type in learning situation is influenced by numerous factors, including age and competence mode. The level of human motivation can either improve or worsen the modeling, imitation and observation since people observe and subsequently master a wide variety of social reactions, such as aggression, sexual behavior, methods of emotional response etc. (Reed et al., 2010).
On this basis, they have developed the concept of social learning, which is the central problem of socialization (Reed et al., 2010). This process allows an individual to take the place in society and is the promotion of the person from asocial “humanoid” to a full member of society (Bandura, 1997). Initially, all people are similar, but in two or three years, they, as children, become different, individual and unique. Therefore, these differences are the result of learning and not innate.
General Causes of Prostitution
The cause of prostitution in both young and middle ages must be sought not in the need for selling one’s body, mere financial insecurity or low social status, but in vulgarization and in the reflection of these factors in the individual (Cobbina & Oselin, 2011). Feeling the need is not only caused by a lack of fashionable clothing or household goods, especially as regards adults in middle age, who want to boast about their achievements up to their current age. Meanwhile, these people experience the non-adaptation and the lack of solidarity with moral norms of society and disdainful attitude towards them, which creates the individual moral and psychological foundation for not working as well for trading themselves (Roe-Sepowitz, Hickle, Loubert & Egan, 2011). Although poverty and material prosperity does not automatically trigger prostitution, the need is often experienced by the lower strata of the society that delivers the majority of prostitutes (Cobbina & Oselin, 2011).
Second very important point for understanding of adult prostitution is the sexual initiation (Cobbina & Oselin, 2011). Many future prostitutes were raised in adverse conditions and dissolute morals in their immediate environment were caused by licentiousness, cynical language, shamelessness, and openness to sexual relations. As a result, in adulthood they can develop the relative sexual indifference, in which they are able to easily overcome the remnants of moral prohibitions. Another option is that after early and undesired sex or an occasion sexual experience, people may easily engage in such activities without passion and sense, obeying only its physiological inclinations, requirements or requests of the people simply to join the company (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2011).
Connection Between Theory and Phenomenon
The theory of social learning can be applied as a reaction to external stimulation of a person to adopt a particular model of behavior. There are both internal and external influential factors. As for the internal causes, they can be the desire to prove that at middle-age female forces are still on alert, or the desire to show the body “for the last time” (Roe-Sepowitz et al., 2011). This desire is signified quite unconsciously as the woman may possibly see that the relationship with a younger partner or with multiple partners has beneficial effect on the physiology of the fading female body, which literally begins to rejuvenate. The external learning reason include early sexual life, economic difficulties, hatred to own body etc., which make an individual change of the behavioral pattern that may contradict the morality, yet provide an appropriate way of life.
How Can We Help?
Summing up, it can be inferred that Bandura social learning theory is perfectly suitable for the reasons of middle-aged people engaging in prostitution. People can observe their external conditions (i.e. economic instability), model the harsh environment, have experiences in childhood, or imitate sexual behavior experienced earlier. Evidently, financial reasons are not the only causes for people to become prostitutes, but dissatisfaction with the body, personal achievements for the current age, or traumatic experience can be recognized as the grounds for the issue emergence.