You are on page 1of 7

Behavioral Perspective - 1

Behavioral Model

Behaviorism was founded as an attempt to move away from introspective,

unmeasurable concepts in psychology.
Behaviorists wanted to establish psychology as a science like physics or
chemistry, with the emphasis only on what is observable and measurable.
Personality isnt a thing inside you that causes consistency in behavior;
it is that consistency.

Basic principles of learning theory

Our responses and behaviors are learned
We learn to maximize pleasure (reward), avoid pain (punishment)
Born with certain instinctual responses
Learn through
association (classical conditioning)
consequences (operant/instrumental conditioning)
Behavioral theory emphasizes:
Observable behavior
Later included cognitive/social features
situational variables
the function of behaviors
ways of altering behavior patterns
testable hypotheses, experimentation
relevance of animal models
John Watson
Personality = The end product of our habit systems.
Conditioning principles account for almost all human behavior
Because weve all had unique learning histories, were all different
Principles of Learning
Classical conditioning
Originally described and researched by Pavlov with dogs.
Involves existing S-R assocation
We learn to respond to previously neutral stimuli (CS) based on their
association with stimuli that already elicit responses (UCS)

Behavioral - 2

these associations:
contribute to further learning
are subject to extinction (or decrease at least) if the pairing doesnt
occur again at least occasionally
can be context-specific
Watson and Raynor demonstrated classical conditioning principles with
people in the case of Little Albert.
Generalization can be adaptive or maladaptive.
While generalization is responding to similarities, discrimination is
responding to differences.


Operant conditioning Skinner

Thorndikes Law of Effect;

Behavior that results in satisfying consequences (rewards) will be
Behavior that is followed by unpleasant consequences will not be
Skinner applied the law of effect to humans and called it reinforcement
Operant conditioning begins with behavior that is emitted spontaneously
Then reinforced, ignored, or punished.

Skinner argued that all behavior is determined by the reinforcers that are
provided by the social environment
No free will
Black box

Reinforcement - increases freq. of beh.

Positive giving something good
Negative taking away something bad
Punishment - decreases freq. of beh.
Positive giving something bad (e.g., spanking)
Negative - removing something (e.g., time out)
Extinction decreases freq. of beh.
Ignoring behavior/no consequences

Study of personality is the study of the individuals idiosyncratic

learning history and history of contingencies

Behavioral - 3

In operant conditioning, discrimination means we learn that the presence

of certain stimuli, a behavior is likely to be reinforced, but not in the
presence of other stimuli.
Generalization means that behavior translates to other (similar)
situations, even if it is not rewarded in those situations.
Especially useful for complex behaviors

Schedules of reinforcement
Continuous - leads to quickest learning
Fixed ratio
Variable ratio
Fixed interval responding highest at end of interval
Variable-interval reinforcement - most effective, resistant to extinction
APPLICATION - Decreasing unwanted behavior

The best way to get rid of negative behaviors is to stop reinforcing them
according to conditioning principles, they should extinguish.
Problems with punishment
Punishment is popular but relatively ineffective:
Doesnt teach alternative behaviors
Only temporarily suppresses behaviors
Child may learn undesirable behaviors through modeling
(screaming, hitting)
Child may learn that bigger, stronger people can do what they want
May create negative emotions that inhibit appropriate behaviors
Punishment is more effective when:

Strengths of Skinnerian Theory

Supported by research
Internally consistent

Behavioral - 4

Criticisms of Skinnerian Theory

Internal thoughts and feelings cant be ignored.
While measuring observable responses is scientific, it ignores the
processes of thinking and feeling that make us uniquely human.
Principles of learning were discovered and studied using animal subjects.
Applying principles of animal learning to humans is a big leap, since
humans have more complex systems of thought and action.
Overly simplistic
Modeling/Social Learning Theory
Most of our behavior is learned through experiences with other people
Focus on past only to extent that it helps us predict current behavior
Personality is both changing and stable
Behavior is mostly goal-directed
Motivated to maximize reward and minimize punishment
Early goals learned in family setting
Personality development is a function of the range, diversity, and quality
of peoples experiences with other people.
We need to take perceptions, expectancies, and values into account when
predicting behavior.
Behavior potential likelihood of behavior occurring in given situation
Expectancy likelihood that behavior will result in a certain reinforcer
Value how much we value that reinforcer above others (probability
being equal)
Efficacy our beliefs about whether we are capable of producing the
behavior in question
Locus of control
Generalized expectancy of control over reinforcers and contingencies
Internals happier in general than externals
Psychological disorders
Drawbacks to being internal
Bilocals may be healthier
Bandura Social-Cognitive Theory
Our internal and external behavior and environment influence each other
Reciprocal determinism
Potential environment vs. actual environment
Emphasis on cognitive aspects of personality and how they influence

Behavioral - 5

We use mental representations and forethought to guide behavior

We imagine possible outcomes, set goals, develop strategies.
Past experiences guide these judgments
Reinforcements as important, but dont account for everything and
dont always strengthen or weaken behavior as others have theorized
Most behavior is performed without external
Anticipated outcomes
We have many behavioral models, including parents, friends,
teachers, etc.
Observational learning
Behavioral repertoire
How do we learn?
Bobo experiments
For us to imitate a behavior, we must
Attend to the behavior
Remember the behavior
Enact the behavior
Expect the behavior to be rewarded
Violence and the media
What determines what behaviors we will imitate?
Expectations about consequences
More likely to pick up relevant behavior
More likely to imitate behavior thats presented as justified
More likely to imitate a model who is
Similar to observer in age, race, gender, looks
Warm and nurturing
In control over future resources of the observer
Justified in his/her behavior
People low in self-esteem or competence are more likely to imitate
Belief that one has impact on environment
Type of expectancy
Outcome expectation belief that an action will produce a certain

Behavioral - 6

Efficacy expectation belief that you are capable of performing

that action
Bandura thinks efficacy expectation is more important than
outcome expectations
Physiological and affective states impact efficacy
Efficacy impacts effort and persistence
Low efficacy avoid difficult situations no opportunity to develop
Self-efficacy and achievement

Behaviorism and Psychopathology

Abnormal behavior is not qualitatively different from normal behavior
Abnormal behavior is learned just like any other behavior.
Through classical conditioning, operant conditioning, or modeling.
Associations could have taken place a long time ago or without our
Lack of appropriate behaviors may be due to inadequate reinforcement
Learned helplessness model of depression
Behavior therapists see the behavior itself as the problem.
Not concerned with how the behavior developed, just in fixing it
focusing on current environment
Baseline measure of the behavior
Define behavior in precise terms so it can be measured

Behavior modification - Operant

Functional analysis
Change contingencies
Aversion therapy Classical/operant
Biofeedback - Operant
Systematic desensitization Classical
Systematic desensitization Classical
Changing expectancies Social learning theory

Strengths of behaviorism/social learning

Precisely defined, testable
Supported by research
Leads to effective treatment strategies with built-in methods for testing
Appeals to our egalitarianism

Behavioral - 7

Has had a strong impact on modern psychological thought

High applied value

Criticisms of behaviorism/social learning

Too narrow a description of human experience and personality
Rejection of free will is troubling
Minimizes heredity
Certain behaviors are hard to condition
Much work done with animals, not people may not translate
Gender role behavior
Gender-role behavior is operantly conditioned and modeled
Gender-types and adjustment
congruence model
androgyny (Bem)
Gender-types and relationships