In child and human development there is a natural tendency to become like our most important role models, particularly our same sex primary parent figures. In other words, boys tend to take on characteristics of their father figures and girls those of their mother figures. The main processes through which this phenomenon takes place are identification and social learning. Identification is a psychological process whereby people take on aspects, qualities, or attributes of another, and effectively become more like that other person. Some people take on only a few of the qualities of the parent figure while others may become very much like them, i.e., “He’s just like his father.” “You’re exactly like your mother!” Like many of the psychological processes I’ve described, identification occurs outside of our conscious awareness. This is apparent when people make a deliberate commitment that they “will never be like my father” (or mother), and yet over time, they still end up taking on some of the very characteristics they may have despised in their parent figures. Social learning occurs when people learn new information and behaviors by observing other people—most often important role models—and how they act and react in various situations, as well as what happens as a result of their actions. Here again, our most influential role models growing up tend to be our same sex primary parent figures. Whatever attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors we observe in our same sex parent figures, we are more likely to imitate, taking on those behaviors ourselves. Another level of social learning takes place through our interactions with others. Behaviors that are positively reinforced by getting desired results—what we want consciously or unconsciously (for instance, being in control or being “right”) are apt to be repeated. This blog post is an excerpt from Some Assembly Required – A Balanced Approach to Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain by By Dan Mager, MSW; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).