||This article is being edited by students as part of a class project. Please assume good faith. If there are any problems, you are encouraged to contact an administrator. More information might be found on the projects page.|
||The English used in this article may not be easy for everybody to understand.|
Behaviorism, or behaviourism, is an approach to psychology. Behaviorists say that scientific study of behavior should consist only of what can be directly seen. A person's behavior or an animal's behavior in specific situations can be seen. The mind or thoughts of people and animals cannot be seen. Behaviorists focus on relationships between stimuli and responses. Unseen qualities such as states of mind were not part of the study. Even though we know today that the mind plays a part in all advanced animals' behaviors.  They believe that in man, the mind was not allowed to play any part in behaviorist psychology This was decided because the mind could not be directly observed.
Behaviourism states that behaviour can be studied scientifically, through the study of observation. This is to say, without knowing what the physiology of an event is, and without using theories such as that of the mind. According to behaviourism, all behaviour can be observed. Furthermore, it relied on another idea, that all human behaviour was learned. Behaviorists believed that behavior could be explained by classical or operant conditioning. This is learning by feedback from specific actions. However, behaviourists denied the importance of inherited behaviours, instincts, or inherited tendency to behave. They did not believe, or ignored, the idea of heredity, that something can come from a person's genes. This was the idea of the blank slate, that babies are born with a clean, empty mind.
Pavlov researched classical conditioning through the use of dogs and their natural ability to salivate, produce water in their mouths. Thorndike and Watson rejected introspective methods, looking at one's own conscious thoughts and feelings. They wanted to restrict psychology to experimental methods. Skinner's research focused on operant conditioning through the use of what today is known as Skinner's Box.
Conditioning[change | edit source]
The act of conditioning is when a desired behavior is made through the training and pairing of stimuli with a specific behavior. Some behaviors are natural reflexes which people (and animals) are born with. Infants are born with primitive reflexes that from birth help them eat, communicate, and survive. These reflexes are unconditioned, they are not taught to the baby. The strength and repetition of the stimulus, what is causing a response, will affect the wanted behavior. When a stimulus is presented to a subject too often, the response decreases, this is known as the habituation effect. The sensitization effect is when there is an increase of strength in the wanted behavior because the stimulus is presented more often or stronger. 
Before Watson, scientists have been studying the relationship between environmental events and behavior of the creatures in that given environment. Pavlov's research on conditioning provided a mechanism to explain the relationship. Thorndike's puzzle boxes were also influential. Watson was the one who coined the term behaviorism. 
Classical conditioning[change | edit source]
Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian conditioning) is when a conditioned stimulus causes an unconditioned response. Pavlov used dogs to prove that using a bell (conditioned stimulus) could create an unconditioned response (salivation). Pavlov paired the bell with food (unconditioned stimulus) making the dogs salivate at the sight of food. From here, although the response was the same, salivation, it became a conditioned response to hearing the bell as opposed to seeing the food. Pavlov with his students realized that all behaviors have the possibility of extinction, spontaneous recovery, generalization, and more.  This explained how people gained new responses to different stimuli.
Another example of an unconditioned response is when wind is blown in a person's eyes and they blink automatically to prevent dust or something from getting into them. This is a reflex that is innate. 
Fear conditioning is when a previously neutral stimulus is used to elicit fear. One main example is the Little Albert experiment by Watson and Rayner (1920/2000). The researchers tested infants' emotional reactions. They found that Little Albert would react to a loud noise and then consequently conditioned that noise to elicit fear when he saw a white rat. This came to be known as ʽconditioned emotional responseʼ. After a period of time, Little Albert would cry when he saw a white rat or anything small and white, even his stuffed animal. 
Operant conditioning[change | edit source]
Operant conditioning, under the research of B.F. Skinner, studies cause and effect. It is also known as instrumental conditioning. Instrumental conditioning is based off of a system of reward and punishment. It teaches the subject to continue a wanted behavior or to stop one. A reinforcement is something given to the subject, the person or animal you are trying to create the wanted behavior in, as a way to make or take away that wanted behavior. A positive reinforcement is used to increase, make, a wanted behavior. The subject is rewarded with food or another primary reinforcement. Negative reinforcement is taking away a negative stimulus to increase a desired, wanted behavior. A punishment is used to decrease, take away a specific behavior.  Skinner worked with intervals and ratios. An interval is when a period of time passes. A ratio is when enough actions occur no matter how long the time. When something is fixed, it will always happen at the same time no matter what. When it is a variable, it can change with no set reason. A fixed interval is after a specific time has passed, the subject is presented with a reinforcement or punishment. For example, every 10 seconds there will be a reinforcement or a punishment. A variable interval is when the time is not set so it could be every 10 seconds there will be a reinforcement or a punishment but it could also be every 30 seconds. A fixed ratio is after a certain amount of responses generated by the subject, a reinforcement or punishment is given. For example, after the rat would push the lever for 10 times, something would happen. A variable ratio is when the number of responses necessary for the subject to make changes before the presentation of a reinforcement or punishment. 
Related pages[change | edit source]
References[change | edit source]
- Köhler, W. 1956. The mentality of apes. London: Routledge and K. Paul. (translated from the 2nd revised edition by Ella Winter)
- Skinner B.F. (16 April 1984). "The operational analysis of psychological terms". Behavioral and brain sciences(Print) 7 (4): 547–581. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=9212556. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Baum, William M. (1994). Understanding behaviorism: science, behavior, and culture. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers. ISBN 0-06-500286-5.
- Pinker, Steven 2002. The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. New York, N.Y: Viking. ISBN 0-670-03151-8
- Fraley, LF (2001). "Strategic interdisciplinary relations between a natural science community and a psychology community" (pdf). The Behavior Analyst Today 2 (4): 209–324. http://www.baojournal.com. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Domjan, Michael (2009). The Principles of Learning and Behavior. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning. ISBN 1-4240-8608-6.
- Kardas, Edward P. (2014). History of Psychologyː The Making of a Science. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning. ISBN 1-111-18666-9.