Behaviorism Theory of Psychology
Gateway Community College
Behaviorism is a theory of learning. Behaviorism suggests that learning is based on the thought that all behaviors are gained when they are conditioned. The theory of behaviorism supposes that behavior can be studied in a controlled manner and according to John B. Watson we can observe it and it should have nothing to do with self-examination because self-examination is too subjective. Besides John B. Watson there were others also interested in the study of behavior, specifically, Ivan Pavlov and Burrhus F Skinner. Behaviorism was a major change from earlier views because it rejected the importance of the conscious and unconscious mind and instead it attempted to make psychology a more scientific field, by focusing just on the observable behavior. Behaviorism had its earliest start with the work of Ivan Pavlov's and his research on the digestive systems of dogs that led him to the discovery of classical conditioning process, which demonstrated that behaviors could be learned through conditioned associations. This paper will discuss the work of Pavlov, Watson and Skinner and how they contributed to today's behaviorist theories like cognitive behavioral therapy. It will also discuss how these early behaviorists’ theories are the similar as today's behaviorist theories and how they are dissimilar.
Behaviorism Theory of Psychology
Psychology is the science of behavior. Psychology is not the science of the mind. Behavior can be described and explained without making reference to mental events or to internal psychological processes. The sources of behavior are external in the environment, not internal in the mind. Behaviorism is a rule, or a set of rules, about human and nonhuman animal behavior. An important component of many psychological theories in the late nineteenth century were introspection, the study of the mind by analysis of one's own thought processes. It was in reaction to this trend that behaviorism arose, claiming that the causes of behavior need not be sought in the depths of the mind but could be observed in the immediate environment, in stimuli that elicited, reinforced, and punished certain responses. The explanation, in other words, lay in learning, the process whereby behavior changes in response to the environment. It wasn't until the twentieth century that the scientist began to uncover the actual mechanism of learning, thereby laying the theoretical foundation for behaviorism. The contributions of four particular scientists are Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, Edward Lee Thorndike, and B.F. Skinner. In the late 1800s, Pavlov was studying the gastric function of dogs. Pavlov inadvertently discovered that dogs would salivate prior to the food being presented to them, and decided that his discovery of dogs salivating prior to the actual food arriving was more interesting than gastric functions, and changed the focus of his research (Goodwin, 2008). Pavlov experimented using a tone for dogs alerting them that food was available. What Pavlov found was that his dogs began to salivate when the tone was introduced even when the food was not readily available (Schwartz & Lacy, 1982). Pavlov realized that when his dogs salivated at the sound of the tone, this response is not a natural response but instead it was a learned response, and he consequently called this response a conditioned response and the neutral stimulus (presentation of the food) became a conditioned stimulus (Beecroft, 1966). Pavlov's work became known in the West, mainly due to the writings of John B. Watson. Pavlov thus invented what we now know today as classical conditioning. Pavlov's research also had a direct effect on bringing behaviorism to the attention of the American public in the 1930's. John B. Watson is known as the "founder of behaviorism however Watsons Behaviorism did not catch on immediately and in 1913 when...
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