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Behaviourist Approach PY1 S+W

By _British_Bitch_ Oct 13, 2013 503 Words
One strength of the Behaviourist Approach is that it is a scientific approach in that it has clear and measurable variables (stimulus, response and reinforcer) which allows scientific experiments to be conducted. For example, Skinner's conducted an experiment to present operant conditioning where the independent variable was the reinforcer (food pellet) and the electric shock (punishment) and the dependent variable was the frequency of lever pressing. This is a strength as scientific experiments provide strong objective data rather than inferences which can support the approach and it's theories. Also objective data is useful to provide patients with as they like to know there is evidence the therapy is successful rather than the therapist simply saying it is. Scientific data can also be used in order to make predictions about the world around us. Another strength is that this approach has had successful applications. For example, systematic desensitisation (SD) has shown to have a 75% success rate in treating phobias (McGrath 1990). Also, the use of operant conditioning has been applied in schools through the use of housepoints as positive reinforcement and detentions as punishments in order to shape behaviour. This is a strength as the approach is useful for the world around us and has improved people's quality of life by treating disorders and helped teach discipline to children in order to aid learning.

A weakness of the Behaviourist Approach is that it is determinist in that it suggests our behaviour is decided for us through observation, associations and reinforcement rather than us deciding our behaviour through the use of free will. For example, if someone was aggressive this approach would state that they are either modelling behaviour they have observed, they have observed rewards for aggression or they have been rewarded for aggression in the past themselves (such as by getting attention). This is a weakness as it provides justifications for wrongdoings and suggests we should not take responsibility. Also, we know that free will is a factor and we can decide to change our behaviour if we want to so this approach is not accurate. Another weakness of this approach is that it is more relevant to animals than humans as this approach believes that animals and humans are made of the same stimulus-response building blocks. For example, the roots of the approach lie in animal experiments such as Skinner presenting operant conditioning through his "skinner box" and Pavlov presenting classical conditioning through the use of dogs. This is a weakness as we know that humans are different than animals in that they have higher cognitive abilities and therefore this approach can not be considered accurate. Also due to the fact animals and humans are different some of the behaviourist therapies have proven to not be helpful. For example, Wolphe had a patient who had a fear of insects and it was later found that this was due to her husband whom she did not get along with was nicknamed after an insect rather than conditioning-an animal would not have these marital problems.

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