1

Perspectives on Behaviorism
Jody Marvin
PSY310
March 5, 2011
Sharon Cohen
2

Perspectives
Although the ancient Greek philosophers preached that behavior is a result to obtain pleasure
and avoid pa...
3

With a growing dissatisfaction with introspective psychology John B Watson, a self-conscious
promoter began strongly em...
4

study of animal behavior is applicable in the study of human behavior providereal life
application of psychological pri...
5

Watson believed classical conditioning was a cornerstone of human learning. His experiment
with Little Albert is an exa...
6

conditioning. In theory, every action expects reward and people do not create an action without
the expectancy of somet...
7

demonstrateduntil triggered by an incentive, occurring with reinforcement. However, today the
results support a cogniti...
8

between basic and applied psychology influencing child rearing, education, industry, and
psychotherapy.
9

References
Gerald, C., Kirsch, I., (2004). Theory of Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Journal of
Clinical Psyc...
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  1. 1. 1 Perspectives on Behaviorism Jody Marvin PSY310 March 5, 2011 Sharon Cohen
  2. 2. 2 Perspectives Although the ancient Greek philosophers preached that behavior is a result to obtain pleasure and avoid pain, philosopher John Locke (1690) believed the mind was a clean slate at birthtabula raras. Similarly, Tolman believed that people begin writing their lives stories as they experience their environment. In contrast, the perspective pioneered by John Watson and B. F. Skinner theorizes the focus on the relation between observable behaviors and environmental events, stimuli called behaviorism. Eventually, American behaviorist John B. Watson‟s Psychology the Behaviorists View It(1913), completely disputed the idea of any innate personality excluding inner processes such as feelings from study.Equally, important, carrying behaviorism to a new level, Skinner conducted major research in conditioning, studying reinforcement contingency. Skinner‟s explanation of behavior lies in persons learning history combined with the specific reinforcement. By comparison, Tolman recognized that individuals acted influenced by representations or conceptions of the external world. His theory incorporates feelings with present life stories that provide a program for our actions (Malone & Cruchon, 2001). Specialists began researching the idea that psychology was meaningless as something abstract. With roots in comparative psychology, the importance of learning emphasized the possibility of persistence. Divided into two forms, initially psychology engulfed the minority representing radical behaviorism and the majority representing the rest of psychology.B. F. Skinner,a radical behaviorist, termed the „rest of psychology‟ in theoretical explanations of underlying mechanisms. Physiological experiments dominated early research in psychology observing actions and behavior in animals with the focus on the nerves and the brain coming together producing behavior (Goodwin, 2009).
  3. 3. 3 With a growing dissatisfaction with introspective psychology John B Watson, a self-conscious promoter began strongly emphasizing many existing concepts such as the shaping of behavior because of environmental influences, the concept of association, and the behaviorists stimulusresponse connections. Skinner denied the mind/body dualism, but like Watson did not deny the importance of personal experience. In contrast, Edwin C. Tolman asserted the entire organization causes the learning rather than simple elements of stimuli and muscle response. Subsequently, developing Tolman‟spurposive behaviorism strengthened the bridge between behaviorism and cognitive theory.In addition, Tolman answered questions explaining why we do what we, which is the goal of behaviorism (Malone& Cruchon, 2001). Continuing is the debate addressing the difference between two forms of human behavior, one shaped by nonverbal events often hard to report verbally, the other by verbally formulated rules or hypothesizes. According to Skinner (1969), “Behavior analysts think of knowledge as a form of behavior, and tend to use the terms „rule-governed‟ versus „contingency-shaped‟ behavior,” (Goodwin, 2009, p. 124). Referring to conscious and unconscious knowledge, many dichotomies include linguistic versus intuition, declarative versus procedural, or explicit versus implicit knowledge. Everything you do, you learned from someone, somewhere, somehow. Involved are various types of learning, from struggling to tie your shoes to using a computer. Defined as any relatively permanent change in behavior caused by experience or practice describes learning. Although still questioning the subject, theories explain that once you learn something, it is always somewhere in your memory. Watson discovered the connection between the learning process for learning the sensory stimulus, kinesthetic sensory perception, and the need for pairing with cognitive processes to produce learning. Consequently, Watson‟s arguments that the
  4. 4. 4 study of animal behavior is applicable in the study of human behavior providereal life application of psychological principles creating the popularity of behaviorism in America. John B. Watson, after observing children in the field, was interested in finding support for his notion that when prompted by fear hearing loud noises caused a reaction in children. Watson‟s curiosity reasoned that this fear was innate or because of an unconditioned response. He believed he could condition a child to fear another distinctivestimulus that would not normally cause fear. Watson proved this during his experiment with „Little Albert‟, a nine-month old infant. The applications of classical conditioning induced extreme fear and phobias in the infant.In the same way, a human standing in front of slot machines is an example of variable ratio reinforcement as shown with a Skinner box used for operant conditioning research. The lever is pressed and the cup or element in which the coins fall represents the reinforcing pellets or chips released. Behaviorists claimed behavior in animals and humans follow laws of behavior without reference to internal states (thoughts or feelings) like a machine. Flip a switch and the light comes on, opening your college book triggers learning behavior, whereas presenting a stimulus triggers an automatic or reflexive response. Watson and Vladimir Bekhterev pioneered the perspective focusing on learned behavior while studying the environmental events controlling behavior investigating motor movements. Ivan Pavlov (1920) demonstrated learning through association and Skinner demonstrated learning through consequences. Watson and Skinner demonstrated experimentation as the primary testing of theories relating to behavior and environmental events. Subsequently, the two men shared in Pavlov‟s passion for systematic research grounded in measurable behavior.
  5. 5. 5 Watson believed classical conditioning was a cornerstone of human learning. His experiment with Little Albert is an example of classical conditioning that includes the development of emotions and fears. Procedures for classical conditioning involve making an association between an involuntary response and a stimuluswhereas operant conditioning procedures attempt to make an association between a voluntary behavior and a consequence. Classical conditioning is passive for the learner whereas operant conditioning relies on the learner‟s active participation in the learning procedure performing some type of action for reward or punishment (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Furthermore, classical conditioning involves placing a neutral signal before a reflex whereas operant conditioning involves applying reinforcement or punishment after a behavior. The reaction to classical conditioning is instantaneous (dog salivating when a bell rings) whereas with operant conditioning the controlled reaction (study hard to get an A instead an F), develops unconsciously through subsequent consequences (Kowalski &Westen, 2009). Different roles of incentive are an example of a basis for classical conditioning. For example, associating an environmental signal with an environmental reward, such as the association between Pavlov‟s bell and the dog‟s food, isan example of classical conditioning.The environment acts upon the person. In contrast, learning to repeat behaviors that help the organism obtain the reward is formed between an action and a reward because of operant conditioning. The person acts upon the environment (McAdams, 2009). Consequently, you learn to earn a reward in classical conditioning whereas in operant conditioning you learn to anticipate a reward. In addition, stimulation rewards include receiving attention from others; affective rewards include receiving respect, praise, and affection. Affective rewards constitute an emotional response from others and are highly influential in operant
  6. 6. 6 conditioning. In theory, every action expects reward and people do not create an action without the expectancy of something (Pinel, 2009). In practice, both classical and operant conditionings are the primarilytreatments for phobias. However, according to Corey Gerald in Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, “both classical and operant conditioning are also methods of treatment assisting with nightmares, obsessions, compulsions, anorexia, addictions, and anxiety,” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 384). Empirically tested, the classical conditioning technique of desensitization is the widely applicable treatment technique in psychology today. Because pure behavior therapy is fading from clinical practice, both procedures are applicable producing satisfactory results (Gerald& Kirsch, 2004). Elsewhere Tolman‟s Psychology: A Study of a Science describes his concept of “wholes” about behavior and his notions of goals and purpose remain. As an illustration, interveningvariables are inferred variables assumed to intervene between the stimulus and behavior. Clearly reflecting the influence of logical positivism the intervening variables (abstract, theoretical terms) closely relate to the stimuli and responses (observable events).Examples of cognitive intervening variables are sign-gestalts (learned relationships between cues and expectations) purposiveness (tied cognitive intervening variables with operationally defined stimulus), expectancy (process intervening between stimulus and response), and cognitive maps(a field map of the environment) (Goodwin, 2009). Similarly, eliminating the question of reliability Tolman and his associates established procedureseliminating human has handling of the rats, developed standardized mazes, and developed an automated system of delivery (Tryon, & Jeffress, 1999, as cited in Goodwin, 2009). In addition, the discovery of latent learningoccurs below the surface, not
  7. 7. 7 demonstrateduntil triggered by an incentive, occurring with reinforcement. However, today the results support a cognitive view of learning, in which changes occur in unobservable mental processes (Beatty, 2002; Voicu & Schmajul, 2002: Stouffer & White, 2006as cited in Pinel, 2009). Tolman‟s set of attitudes and values contributed to a remarkable sense of perspective with a strong sense of morality (Goodwin, 2009). In practice, both classical and operant conditionings are the primarily treatments for phobias. However, according to Corey Gerald in Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, “both classical and operant conditioning are also methods of treatment assisting with nightmares, obsessions, compulsions, anorexia, addictions, and anxiety,” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 384). Empirically tested, the classical conditioning technique of desensitization is a most widely applicable treatment technique in psychology today. Because pure behavior therapy is fading from clinical practice, both procedures are applicable producing satisfactory results (Gerald& Kirsch, 2004). Nevertheless,Tolman‟s social cognitive theory contributes to the design of health education and health behavior programs. Cognitive psychology accepts the use of the scientific method while rejecting introspection for investigation. In addition, whereas behaviorism does not, cognitive psychology acknowledges internal states (belief, motivation) while exploring unconscious phenomenon (Pinel, 2009). Used for the basis for intervention strategies, the theory explains how people acquire and maintain addictions while explaining certain behavioral patterns. We are primed for learning from the beginning of life and today psychological phenomenon is studied with a certain degree of objectivity defined in behavioral terms. Equally important, despiteWatson and Skinner‟s magnificent failure their behaviorism bridged the gap
  8. 8. 8 between basic and applied psychology influencing child rearing, education, industry, and psychotherapy.
  9. 9. 9 References Gerald, C., Kirsch, I., (2004). Theory of Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Vo. 60(4), 369-392 Goodwin, C. (2009). A History of Modern Psychology.(3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2010). Psychology. (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Malone Jr., J. C., & Cruchon, N. M. (2001). Radical behaviorism and the rest of psychology: A review/precis ofSkinner's 'About Behaviorism.' Behavior & Philosophy, 29(1), 31. McAdams, D. (2009). The Person: New introduction to personality psychology. (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Pinel, J. (2009). Biopsychology. (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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