Summary: Behaviorism is a worldview that operates on a principle of “stimulus-response.” All behavior caused by external stimuli (operant conditioning). All behavior can be explained without the need to consider internal mental states or consciousness.
Originators and important contributors: John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, E. L. Thorndike (connectionism), Bandura, Tolman (moving toward cognitivism)
Keywords: Classical conditioning (Pavlov), Operant conditioning (Skinner), Stimulus-response (S-R)
Behaviorism is a worldview that assumes a learner is essentially passive, responding to environmental stimuli. The learner starts off as a clean slate (i.e. tabula rasa) and behavior is shaped through positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. Both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement increase the probability that the antecedent behavior will happen again. In contrast, punishment (both positive and negative) decreases the likelihood that the antecedent behavior will happen again. Positive indicates the application of a stimulus; Negative indicates the withholding of a stimulus. Learning is therefore defined as a change in behavior in the learner. Lots of (early) behaviorist work was done with animals (e.g. Pavlov’s dogs) and generalized to humans.
Behaviorism precedes the cognitivist worldview. It rejects structuralism and is an extension of Logical Positivism.
Classical Conditioning (Ivan Pavlov)
Several types of learning exist. The most basic form is associative learning, i.e., making a new association between events in the environment. There are two forms of associative learning: classical conditioning (made famous by Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs) and operant conditioning.
In the early twentieth century, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov did Nobel prize-winning work on digestion. While studying the role of saliva in dogs’ digestive processes, he stumbled upon a phenomenon he labeled... [continues]
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