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Give me a dozen healthy infants,well formed, and my own specifiedworld to bring them up in. I’llguarantee to take any one atrandom and train him to becomeany type of specialist I mightselect—doctor, lawyer, artist,merchant-chief, and yes, evenbeggarman and thief” John Watson
Assumptions The behaviourist approach assumes that everything about human behaviour is learned through experience. This learning occurs through either classical or operant conditioning. Classical conditioning involves learning through association. Operant conditioning involves learning through the consequences of actions = reward (reinforcement) and punishment. Behaviour is a result of stimulus-response.
Pavlov Pavlov discovered classical conditioning by observing dogs behaviour at meal times.
Classical conditioning inhumans Menzies (1937) used the response of vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels making the skin look pale). Every time a participant heard a buzzer, he placed his hand in a bucket of ice-cold water. When he became conditioned to this, whenever he heard the buzzer the vasoconstriction took place without putting his hands in the water.
Skinner Skinner developed the theory of operant conditioning by conducting experiments with animals such as rats and pigeons. One of his famous experiments involved a rat in a Skinner box. The rat had to learn to press the lever that would provide food and avoid the lever that would give an electric shock
Reinforcement and punishment Reinforcement is anything that increases the likelihood of a behaviour repeating Reinforcement can be either positive or negative. Positive reinforcement is reward Negative reinforcement involves removing something painful. Punishment is anything that reduces the likelihood of a behaviour repeating.
Influences on Psychology The behaviourist approach is one of the most scientific approaches in psychology. They focus on behaviour because that is what can be observed and measured. Therefore, they have added credibility to those aiming to get psychology recognised as a science
Influences on Psychology The second major influence is the practical use of the approach. Watson and Rayner showed how a phobia could be learned. Because of this, behaviourist techniques can be used to treat phobias (systematic desensitisation) It is also used widely to shape the behaviour of children.
Influences on Psychology The third main influence is the emphasis on learning from the environment (nurture) This approach to behaviour had a big influence on educational policy. If learning comes from the environment then achievement will be based on creating the right environment.
Activity In small groups, come up with as many ‘real life’ examples of behaviour shaped by classical and operant conditioning as you can. When you have completed the examples, think of as many examples of positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and punishment as you can. Put your ideas on flip chart paper