There are quite a few approaches to psychology, and the behavioural approach is one of them. This approach to psychology focuses on how one’s environment and external stimuli affect a person’s mental states and development and how these factors specifically “train” a person for the behaviours they will be exhibiting later on. Some who support this approach do not believe that the concept of free will exists and that all behaviours are simply learned, based upon each individual’s personal experiences, through trial and error by receiving punishments and consequences for certain thoughts and actions and reinforcement and positive benefits from others. A common example of behaviourism is positive reinforcement. A girl gets a new dress if she cleans home properly. In future, she will clean the house properly to get the dress.
Types of Behaviourism:
Behaviourism has the following subsets:
- John Watson first presented methodological behaviourism. It consists of the belief that human beings are no different from the other living animals in existence. It also supports the belief that living beings are born with the mind as a “blank slate” and begin learning their responses to the world around them from that point on.
- Radical behaviourism agrees with the ideas explained in methodological behaviourism but is based on that theory. It also includes the idea that all living creatures are born with some inherent traits and behaviour rather than being “blank slates” at birth and also includes the acceptance of the roles that biological factors and specific genetics play a part in an organism’s behaviour.
- Classical behaviourism, in which the publisher described his behaviourist approach in psychology as a completely objective experimental branch of natural science.
Behaviourism learning theory:
In every learning place, behavioural learning theory is very important in understanding how to motivate and help learners. Information is transferred from teachers to learners from a response to the right stimulus. Learners are passive participants in behavioural learning – teachers are giving them the information as a part of stimulus-response.
Teachers are behaviourists to convey to students how they should react and respond to certain stimuli. This needs to be continuous, to remind learners what behaviour a teacher is looking for regularly.
Positive reinforcement is also very important in behavioural learning theory. With this, learners quickly abandon their responses because they don’t appear to be working. The learner who receives no praise is experiencing negative reinforcement – their brain tells them, though they got a promotion or got some extra credits, it didn’t matter. Hence, the material of the test becomes unimportant to them. On the contrary, learners who receive positive reinforcement see a direct correlation to continuing excellence, completely based on that response to a positive stimulus.
History of Behaviourism:
Pavlov’s dog’s study during the 1890s: Russian psychologist Ivav Pavlov researched salivation in dogs in response to being fed. So he inserted a small test tube into the dog’s cheeks to measure saliva when the dog’s fed. Pavlov predicted dogs would salivate when food was placed in front of him, but he noticed that dogs began to salivate whenever they heard the footsteps of the one who brought his food. Then Pavlov discovered that any object or event in which someone associated with something would trigger the same response, and he realised that he had made an important scientific discovery.
Psychology, as the behaviourist views it by John B. Watson (1930), is purely an objective experiment branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is prediction and control behaviour. Introspection forms no vital part of its method, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to introspection in terms of consciousness.
Little Albert experiment Watson and Raynor presented little Albert with a white rat. Still, he showed no fear, so then he presented the rat with a loud noise that startled little Albert and made him cry. After continuous pressure from the rat and loud noise, little Albert was classically conditioned to fear the site of the rat. Ivan Pavlov showed that classical conditioning applied to animals. But it applied to humans too. John Watson and Rosalie Rayner showed that it did.
Edward Thorndike(1898) This principle suggested that “responses which produce discomforting effects will become less likely to occur in that situation again and the responses which produce comforting effects are more likely to produce”. He studied learning in animals. He introduced a classical experiment in which he used a puzzle box to experimentally test the law of learning.
- B.F Skinner (1948) Published Walden two, in which he described an idealistic society founded upon behaviourist principles.
- Experiment analysis of behaviour (1958) this journal is basically for the original publication of experiments important to the behaviour of individual organisms.
- “Review of verbal behaviour” Chomsky(1959) published his opinions of Skinner’s behaviourism.
- Social learning theory and personality development, a book, published by Bandura(1963), combines both behavioural and cognitive frameworks.
- Beyond freedom and dignity, a book which was published by B.F. Skinner(1971) in which he argues that free will is a mirage.
We have learned about the history of behaviourism, behavioural approaches, and their importance in our daily lives. How behavioural learning can cause harm and, on the contrary, benefits the learner very effectively. So it is very important to choose the right behaviourism approach at the right time.