Psychology, the study and exploration of the limitless psyche. For many years people have dedicated their entire life's work to uncover the causes and motives behind the behaviour of both humans and animals
Various theories have been constructed based on incalculable research. The most contemporary of perspectives include Behaviourism, the assumption that all behaviour is learned. Influenced by the environment, behaviourists believe that we are born a blank canvas and that we are susceptible to manipulation by any chosen stimulus.
In 1902 while experimenting on dogs, a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov discovered that the dogs began to salivate whenever the lab assistant appeared. Coincidence or not the lab assistant was usually the one who fed the dogs. Pavlov concluded that this association was as a result of learning and so proceeded to investigate further.
He sought to find out if ringing a bell (NS) immediately before serving the dogs food (US) prompted the dogs to salivate (UR). After several trials, the bell ringing (NS) caused the dogs to salivate thus becoming a learned response (CS) because the dogs now associated the bell ringing with the arrival food (US). This started the (CR) salivation even before the dogs could see or smell the food.(K,Cherry)
Operant conditioning discovered by B F Skinner (1940) brought forth suggestions on behaviour modification. Having invented the 'Skinner box' in which a hungry rat was placed, Skinner introduced the the term positive reinforcement. Inside the box was a lever which ultimately when pressed accidentally by the rat would release food pellets. Eventually the rat realised that by pressing the lever it would reap rewards in the form of food. The reinforcement was positive as it increased a desired behaviour with the notion of something pleasant. Skinner concluded that reinforcement including negative reinforcement ( an increase in behaviour to avoid anything unpleasant ) was the primary factor to the causes of any behaviour.
1920 seen the behaviouralist Watson and his case study of 'Little Albert'. Watson said that he could condition any child to be anything he desired. He succeeded in conditioning eleven month old baby Albert to fear anything white and furry. Watson introduced Albert to a white rat which initially Albert was very fond of. Over a period of three weeks Watson attempted to create a phobia in Albert by striking a metal bar every time Albert tried to touch the rat. As a result Albert would cry and try to get away from the rat whenever he seen the rat as he had associated the loud scary banging of the metal bar with the rat. The conditioned emotional response. Watson later discovered that Albert had a fear of things with the same characteristics as the rat. White and furry. Generalisation
Bandura (1963) known for his Social Learning Theory carried out the 'Bobo doll' experiment. Unlike Skinner Bandura believed that behaviour did not have to be reinforced for it to occur. He suggested that the way in which behaviour was learnt was through observation and imitation. Two groups of children were involved in the experiment. In a room full of toys a controlled group of children witness an adult beat an inflatable doll. The other group had not been exposed to this behaviour. Upon observing the controlled group of children it was discovered that they were imitating the aggressive behaviour of the adult and as his theory suggested the other group exhibited no aggression at all.
It is argued that the experiments of behaviourism are not reliable because of the influential laboratory settings. The results based on animal behaviour is subject to debate when it comes to generalising human behaviour. One would also argue that behaviourism and it's disregard to freewill is would present unpredictable results as Humans are provided with choices. Longterm, conditioning has not been identified as permanent.(simply psychology)...
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