Behaviourism refers to a psychologist approach which draws attention to a scientific method of investigation
Behaviourism refers to a psychologist approach which draws attention to a scientific method of investigation. The approach is only concerned with observable stimulus-response behaviours, and states all behaviours are learned through interaction with the environment.
The general assumptions of the behaviourist approach are that behaviour is learnt through experiences in life from the environment surrounding them. It is also believed that behaviour is learnt through positive and negative reinforcement. It also states that animal behaviour is shaped by the environment and that behaviour is shaped via classical and operant conditioning.
Classical conditioning is where you learn via association. Classical conditioning was researched and discovered by Ivan Pavlov, whom is a russian psychologist. Classical conditioning is two stimuli that are linked together to create a new learned response in a person or animal.
There are three phases of the process of classical conditioning:
1) Before conditioning – during this phase of the processes, the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) results in an unconditioned response (UCR). The unconditioned stimulus is one that naturally triggers a response. The unconditioned response is an unlearned response that occurs naturally in response to unconditioned stimulus.
2) During conditioning – during the second phase of classical conditioning the neutral stimulus (NS) is paired with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS). Once the neutral stimulus (NS) becomes known as the conditioned stimulus (CS). The subject is now conditioned to respond to the stimulus.
3) After conditioning – once the association has been made between the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) and the conditioned stimulus (CS), present the conditioned stimulus (CS) alone will come to evoke a response without the conditioned conditioned stimulus (CS). The resulting response is known as the conditioned response (CR).
There are also key principles in classical conditioning, one of these key principles is acquisition. This is the first stage of learning, the neutral stimulus (NS) is repeatedly paired with the unconditioned stimulus (UCS). After an association is made, the subject will show a behaviour in response to the neutral stimulus (NS), which is now a conditioned stimulus (CS), so the response has been acquired. (Cherry, 2018)
An example of classical conditioning would be John Watson’s experiment with little Albert. John Watson proposed that the process of classical conditioning (based on Pavlov’s observations) was able to explain all aspects of human psychology. Watson tried to condition little Albert into being afraid of a white rat. Before conditioning the white rat would be the neutral stimulus (NS) as it caused no fear or response. The unconditioned stimulus (UCS) would be the loud banging noise. The unconditioned response (UCR) would be fear and crying. During conditioning the white rat (NS) being repeatedly presented with the loud banging noise (UCS), which produced fear from little Albert (UCR). After conditioning the white rat, which is now the (CS), just presenting the white rat alone causes fear in little Albert (CR). (Mcleod, 2018)
Operant conditioning is the process of learning that happens through rewards and punishment. It includes behavioural patterns which are based on certain stimuli from the environment. Through operant conditioning an association is created between a behaviour and a consequence for that behaviour.
B.F Skinner studied operant conditioning in 1948, using experiments of animals. He did this by placing animals inside a ‘skinner box’ and found three responses from this experiment:
1. Neutral response – this is a response that doesn’t increase or decrease the possibility of a behaviour being repeated.
2. Reinforcement response – this is a response that either increases or decreases the possibility of a behaviour being repeated, this can be through positive or negative reinforcement.
3. Punishers responses – this response decreases the possibility of a behaviour being repeated. The punishment weakens the behaviour.
Components of operant conditioning:
Positive reinforcement – Positive reinforcement occurs when a specific behaviour strengthens or increases by providing a consequence that someone finds rewarding. The behaviour is strengthened by praise or direct reward.
A student will continue to do their homework because they know that they will be rewarded with a candy or is praised by their parents or teachers if the homework is completed.
Negative reinforcement – a specific behaviour strengthens or increases in the hope that a negative consequence can be avoided, so it involves removing the unfavourable events after a behaviour has happened.
A person decides to take a different route on their morning walk to avoid a garbage dump and therefore increases their running speed and the distance that they cover.
Positive punishment- a specific behaviour pattern decreases to avoid dealing with something unpleasant later. Positive punishment includes punishment by application, or outcome to weaken the response it follows.
A student’s cell phone is taken away and is given a scolding, after the cell phone starts ringing in the middle of a lecture. The student will then learn to put the phone on silent mode or never to get it in class in the future.
Negative punishment – a specific behaviour pattern decreases so that a behaviour or object is not taken away or removed. The punishment is strengthened by removing a behaviour and it occurs when an event is removed after a behaviour has happened.
A child is prevented from watching television because they get into a fight with their siblings, by the parents stopping the child from watching tv, the child then learns to avoid fighting with their siblings in the future.