There are 3 elements in the behaviourist perspective, which are classical conditioning, operant conditioning and the social learning theory. The main assumptions made by the behaviourists are
That scientific methods should be used to study only behaviour that is observable •
The environment (i.e. the people or events in it) causes our behaviour •
The two ways in which we learn from the environment are through classical and operant conditioning. The classical conditioning theory was developed by a Russian psychologist called Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). Classical conditioning (learning by association) is where an animal or human learns to associate something new with something that naturally causes a response. That ‘new thing’ then causes the same response by itself. The operant conditioning theory was developed by an American psychologist called Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990). The operant conditioning (learning by consequence) is where an animal or human learns to consistently perform a behaviour based on whether they have previously received a reward or punishment for that behaviour. If you receive a reward for your behaviour you are more likely to do it in the future (positive reinforcement, whereas if you receive a punishment for your actions you are less likely to do it again (negative reinforcement).
Social learning theory (SLT) says that in addition to learning through classical and operant conditioning, we learn through observing and imitating models e.g. people around us or in the media. It is a behaviourist theory because it says that people learn from the environment. SLT can explain aggression, particularly in children. According to SLT, children learn aggression by observing people behaving aggressively and imitating their behaviour. Children are most likely to copy the behaviour of people they see as similar to themselves, adults they admire, powerful people or people who are rewarded for their aggression. This is called indirect/vicarious...
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