Progress in Modern Psychology: The Legacy of American Functionalism

By D. Alfred Owens; Mark Wagner | Go to book overview

14
The Influence of Environmental Context on the Behavioral Effects of Smoked Marijuana

RICHARD W. FOLTIN

As described by Leibowitz in chapter 2, early functional psychologists rejected the common distinction between theoretical and applied research. Instead, they held the view that societal problems often embody the most important and challenging theoretical questions. Research on these problems thus holds great potential for enlarging our understanding of basic psychological processes, as well as the best promise for addressing the practical difficulties of society. In this chapter, Richard Foltin describes recent efforts in psychology to address one of the greatest challenges facing today's society, the problem of drug abuse. His inquiry focuses on the questions of how marijuana use affects motivation, work performance, and social interactions. Using highly innovative behavioral methods, Dr. Foltin builds a persuasive case that drug effects are not uniform or simple, but rather they depend heavily on environmental contingencies such as the nature of rewards available for work and the types of social interactions that are available to the subject. While many questions remain about the complex interactions among psychopharmacological agents, environmental context, and the personal history of the user, the research presented here is breaking new paths, leading toward a fuller understanding of drug abuse and better techniques for minimizing its destructive effects on individuals and society.

DAO

The dynamic relationship between behavior and pharmacological agents takes place within the broader context of ongoing interactions between a behaving organism and a changing environment. The behavioral effects of psychoactive drugs can be usefully analyzed within a framework that focuses upon the consequences of an act and its functional relationship with the

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