You are on page 1of 10



Major theories
Behaviorism is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all
behaviors are acquired through conditioning.
Behaviorism is a school of thought in psychology that assumes
that learning occurs through interactions with the
Two other assumptions of this theory are that the environment
shapes behavior and that taking internal mental states such as
thoughts, feelings, and emotions into consideration is useless in
explaining behavior.
Behaviorism is a perspective that became dominant during the
early half of the 20th century.
Major figures led to the development of this approach:
Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and B.F. Skinner.
Their research produced theories of learning based entirely on
reactions, or "responses," by the organism (human or animal),
directly to stimuli in the environment through processes of
Major theories: John Watson
John waston(1878-1958), the father of behaviorism supported Pavlov's ideas on
conditioned responses.
Through his experiments, Watson tried to demonstrate the role of conditioning
in producing as well as elimination the emotional responses such as fear.
Conditioning is a learning process whereby an artificial or conditioned stimulus
is able to behave like a natural stimulus when both natural and artificial stimuli
are presented together.
The conditioning theory of learning put forward by Watson and Pavlov actually
involves the conditioning of the respondent behavior through a process of
stimulus association and substitution.
Here the responses of the learner become so much conditioned, behaving in the
same way or responding similarly to a similar situation that he doesn't care for
the natural stimuli for evoking the related natural response.
As a result the new substituted stimulus behaves like the original stimulus and is
able to evoke the desired response.
Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs through associations
between an environmental stimulus and a naturally occurring stimulus.
In his views, psychology dealt with overt and observable behavior of the
B. F. Skinner
As a behaviorist, Skinner believed that internal thoughts and
motivations could not be used to explain behavior. Instead, he
suggested, we should look only at the external, observable
causes of human behavior.
He concluded that behavior is shaped and maintained by its
consequences. It is operated by the organism and maintained by
its results.
The occurrence of such behavior was named as operant
behavior and the process of learning that plays the part in
learning such behavior was named as operant conditioning.
Operant conditioning is a method of learning that occurs
through rewards and punishments for behavior.
Through operant conditioning, an association is made between
a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.
Important Events in Behaviorism
1900 - Ivan Pavlov began studying the salivary response and
other reflexes.
1913 - John Watson's Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It was
published. The article outlined the many of the main points of
1920 - Watson and assistant Rosalie Rayner conducted the
famous "Little Albert" experiment.
1943 - Clark Hull's Principles of Behavior was published.
1948 - B.F. Skinner published Walden II in which he described
a utopian society founded upon behaviorist principles.
1959 - Noam Chomsky published his criticism of Skinner's
behaviorism, "Review of Verbal Behavior."
1971 - B.F. Skinner published his book Beyond Freedom and
Dignity, where he argues that free will is an illusion.
Behaviorism is based upon observable behaviors, so it is easier to
quantify and collect data and information when conducting research.

The behavioral approaches are often very useful in changing

maladaptive or harmful behaviors in both children and adults.
Many critics argue that behaviorism is a one-dimensional approach to
behavior and that behavioral theories do not account for free will and
internal influences such as moods, thoughts, and feelings.

Behaviorism does not account for other types of learning, especially

learning that occurs without the use of reinforcements or punishments.
Wolman B. B. (1960). Contemporary theories and systems in
psychology. Harper & Row, Newyork, Evanston and London and John
Weatherhill, Inc., Tokyo
Mangal S. K. (2006). General Psychology. Sterling Publishers Private
Limited, New Delhi