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What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of One of the Perspectives of Psychology

By sgraham521 Oct 22, 2012 848 Words
Stephanie Graham
October 7, 2012

"What Are The Strengths And Weaknesses Of One Of The Perspectives Of Psychology"

Behaviorism is one point of view in psychology directed to a scientific study of the behaviors of man and animal, and is insisted that the cause of our actions and personality lies in our environment, rather than our biology. Behaviorism, also referred to as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorist believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our behavior. There are two types of conditioning, classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning was studied by the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, he demonstrated that dogs could learn to associate a neutral stimulus, such as the sound of a bell, with an automatic behavior, such as reflexively salivating to food. He believed he had discovered the mechanism by which all behaviors were learned. B. F. Skinner investigated operant conditioning of voluntary and involuntary behavior is a form of learning in which an individuals behavior is modified through its consequences, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment. He called his approach to psychology "radical behaviorism," where everything a person does, says, and feels constitutes behavior. Even if the behavior is unobservable it can be subjected to experimental analysis. Skinner demonstrated that our social environment is filled with reinforcing and punishing consequences that shape our behavior. For example many people don't enjoy getting up early to go to work every day, but they do it to get the reward: a paycheck. They are being rewarded for good behavior. If some one didn't show up to work, or not call in that person may be fired and not receive a paycheck. This would be a punishment for their behavior. Growing up my parents would tell me that hard work gets good results. Getting straight A's on my report card I received some incentives. If I didn't get into any trouble I received more incentives as well. But if got a bad grade on a homework assignment or test they would take away incentives or any rewards. Without knowing it I grew up on the operant conditioning and adapted it to my daily life where hard work just seemed natural and has some incentives.

Weaknesses: Behaviorism examines human and nonhuman beings from the point of view of the behavior they demonstrate. Behaviorism is the understanding of behavior of people and animals in their every movement, emotional response/ reaction, the way they think. Environment plays a great role in the life of people, but it is hard to interpret the behavior of people only focusing on the environmental factor. In some ways behaviorism neglects the individualism of every person making a general behavioral pattern for everybody. A weakness is in Skinners operant conditioning theory, is the fact that it does not always work. A person can be pretending they stopped the behavior just to receive the reward. If you give a person a reward for good behavior, that person will expect a reward every time.

Strengths: One main strength of the behaviorist approach is that it focuses only on behavior that can be observed and manipulated in a controlled environment. Behaviorism tends to predict the behavior in certain circumstances. So having the possibility to predict would give a person the ability to control behavior, avoiding any unnecessary reactions. People are more aware of how to control behavior which has become very important in parenting, and useful when helping kids reactions adapt more socially with others. Behaviorism has helped bring the "desired outcome" with the help of reinforcement, and punishment. It is a simple concept of behavior using the principals such as classical and operant conditioning. Pavlov's approach aims to study behavior that is observable and directly measurable.

Behaviorism has a tremendous contribution to the development of psychology. As in every perspective approach, study, or theory has its advantages, disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. What works for one person may not work for another. But it is just as important in helping people.

Skinner and Pavlov both had great techniques in trying to recognize, predict, and control behaviors. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. You could say the Pavlov's theories were groundbreaking in a sense however even under favorable conditions however a person and especially an animal cannot be expected to do the exact same thing every time regardless of a like result. Variable change always has to be accounted for. Such as lack of interest or tiredness. Skinner was on a better tract in my opinion with the rewarding/punishment of behavior. Some issues could arise there as well such as the interpretation of rewards by the individual and just like Pavlov you would have to change them or interest would be lost after eventually. Depending on circumstances both seem very applicable on a case by case basis both having their strengths and weaknesses both very valid points but must be determined by what is to be achieved and who it is being done on.

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