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RUNNING HEAD: Behavioral Theory 1

Behavioral Theory

Courtnee Jones

Fresno Pacific University

Behavioral Theory
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This paper will start with Behavioral theory. Behavior is a response to a stimulus. These

theorist Pavlov, Skinner and Watson believed in behavioral theory. Behaviorism is a learning

theory that focuses on observable behaviors mainly on students. It is broken into two areas of

conditioning classic and behavioral or operant. Most are familiar with operant conditioning,

where one learns through reward what behavior is desired. Operant conditioning is used in our

classrooms today that helps get the behavior that you want for your students. Operant condition-

ing encourages positive reinforcement that is needed so everyone gets what they need done.

Ivan Pavlov is a behaviorist. This means that his theories focused on observable behavior,

because behavior can be measured and thought can not. Pavlov studied reflexes which are auto-

matic behavior that is caused by a stimulus from the environment. Some reflexes, such as the

sucking reflex of a baby when something is put in his/her mouth or when a ball comes flying at

you, you tend to cover your face. This automatic behavior can be manipulated in different ways.

This is called conditioning. The theory of Pavlov could be tested in experiments that have taken

place in a laboratory. He often used animals in his experiments. For example, his most famous

experiment is the one when he used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning. The dogs he used

showed a salivation response when they were offered food which is uncontrollable. Then the

food was offered a number of times with the sound of a buzzer, conditional stimulus. After this,

the sound of the buzzer by itself, let the dogs be known that they have food coming and would

start to produce the salivation response.

B.F. Skinner was also a man of many talents. He was a Behaviorist, Author and an Inven-

tor. As an author he wrote seven books with Walden Two being his most famous book. As an in-

ventor, he created the baby tender, the cumulative recorder and the Skinner box. Skinners pigeon

experiment he trained pigeons to serve as navigators for missile targets during WWII. With his
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Skinner box he trained mice to manipulate this bar or key in order to obtain food or water as a

reinforcement. Through experiments with animals, B.F. Skinner developed the theory of operant

conditioning. Operant Conditioning is learning in which behavior is strengthened or weakened

by consequences. This research showed that behavior could be changed by events taking place

before or after the behavior. As an example, this writer believes that positive reinforcers are great

for the classroom because if your teacher gives you $5 dollars each time you complete your as-

signment, then that student will most likely complete their assignments more often. The negative

reinforcer would be if that student doesn't complete their work in class then, the student will owe

the teacher $5 dollars which means in the future the student will avoid paying the teacher an will

do their work. B.F. Skinners findings in behavioral psychology are still valuable to educators to-

day. John B Watson was also a man with talents involving the creation of the Little Albert Ex-


John B. Watson was the science of observable behavior. Only behavior that could be ob-

served, recorded and measured was the real value for the study of humans or animals. Watson's

thinking was significantly influenced by the earlier classical conditioning experiments of Russian

Ivan Pavlov. Watsons behaviorism did not like the concept of the senseless and the internal

mental state of a person because it was not observable. This writer believes to observe something

or someone you are able to get a better look or an understanding of the situation than something

that is not. Scientist usually takes observation and look for an answer to everything but some-

times they are looking for an answer that is no where to be found. For example, Freud would ask

his patients to tell him their dreams. He would then analyze and break down into pieces of what

these dreams were indicated in the person's life. Watson found this importance of self-examina-

tion and subjective interpretation to be very unhelpful in understanding human behavior. Watson
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said Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them

up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist

regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors.

(What Is Behaviorism and How Does It Work para #3)

This writer also believes that in classrooms today teachers are using this behavioral stud-

ies by using a treasure box filled with goodies to enhance the students work ethics during their

learning time. Students sometimes need an extra boost to help continue their hard work in the

classrooms. It doesn't matter who the child is and where that child comes from every student is

different and has their own strengths and weaknesses. As a teacher it is the duty and responsibil-

ity to know your students, to watch out for any red flags and get help when necessary. There are

many behavioral activities to do in the classroom, there are drills, games, tutorials, programmed

instruction, stimulations and more.


Famous Psychologists: B.F. Skinner. (n.d.). Retrieved February 06, 2016, from http://

Watson, J. B. (1930). Behaviorism. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

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Woolfolk, A., & Perry, N. E. (n.d.). Child and Adolescent Development (2nd ed.). Retrieved
February 6, 2016, from