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  2. Behaviourism: Key Theorists Watson Skinner Pavlov

  3. WHAT IS BEHAVIOURISM? • The theory of behaviourism is based around the idea that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning which occurs during interaction within the surrounding environment. • Believe it is unnecessary to speculate about the internal mental processes when explaining behaviour. • Based of the beliefs that behaviours can be measured, trained and changed. • Regard all behaviour as a response to a stimulus. Assumes all learners are passive, responding to the environment

  4. KEY IDEAS • Deterministic- The way you act is determined by external stimuli provided by the culture in which you live (operant conditioning. What we do is determined by the environment we are in • Observable- over time the individual develops a ‘behavioural repertoire’ (Steinberg,1980) that can but used to predict behaviour • Controllable- desirable behaviours can be brought about by incentives, undesirable behaviours can ne eradicated by consequences or punishment

  5. TYPES OF CONDITIONING There are two types • Classical conditioning: a naturally occurring stimulus is paired with a response. • Operant conditioning: a method of learning what occurs via reward and punishment based on behaviour.

  6. CLASSICAL CONDITIONING IN THE CLASSROOM • Teachers and fellow peers affect how you feel when you enter a classroom • When a teacher creates a friendly environment in the class, the pupils will generally feel comfortable entering the class.

  7. Radical Behaviourism • Developed by B.F.Skinner who describes a particular school that emerged during the reign of behaviourism. What differentiates his ideas is his recognition of the major differences in the acceptance of mediating structures and the role of emotions • A human being according to this concept has life determined for them since they are a product of the culture that causes them to be as they are.

  8. THE MANY TYPES OF BEHAVIOURISM • There is no one agreed upon classification of the behaviourism theory; • Methodological • Radical: Skinner • Teleological • Theoretical • Psycological

  9. STRENGHTS OF BEHAVIOURISM • It is based upon behaviour which can clearly be observed and assessed; it is easier to conduct research and collect conclusive results. • Therapy treatments that all stem from behaviourism (ie behaviour analysis, behavioural intervention etc) have been very useful in changing harmful behaviour in both children and adults.

  10. CRITICISMS OF BEHAVIOURISM • It is argued that the theory of behaviourism can be deemed one dimensional when trying to understand human behaviour; it does not take into account the free will or other influences such as mood or feelings which can all easily change a persons response. • The theory of behaviourism does not account for other learning types that do not use reinforcement and punishment.

  11. BEHAVIOURISM VS COGNITIVISM • The behaviourism theory is often contrasted with the theory of cognitivism. • The theory of cognitivism was a response to the initial behaviourism theory; whilst behaviourism is the study of behaviour for the purpose of identifying its determinants, cognitivism is the study of mental processes through the scientific method and abstractions from behaviour.

  12. B. F. Skinner - Profile • Full Name: Burrhus Frederic Skinner • Born: 20/03/1904 • Place of Birth: Pensylvania, U.S.A. • Died: 18/08/1990 • Place of Death: Massachusetts, U.S.A. • Education: • Studied English at Hamilton College with the intention of becoming a writer. • Later obtained a degree in English Literature from Harvard in 1926. • After reading John B. Watson’s Behaviorism, obtained a Masters in Psychology from Harvard. • Skinner then furthered his research in Psychology and recieved a PhD, again from Harvard, where he remained until 1936 as a researcher. • Main Theories: Positive & Negative Reinforcement, Operant Behavior, Escape Learning, Avoidence Learning and Behavior Modification.

  13. Positive Reinforcement Definition: Conditioning behaviour by rewarding the subject when the desired behaviour is demonstrated. For example: When a child is learning to speak, clapping and cheering when the child correctly says a word or identifies an object. Advantages: Makes the subject feel more willing to behave correctly and makes them feel more free to make the decision.

  14. Negative Reinforcement Definition: Conditioning behaviour by punishing the subject when incorrect behaviour is demonstrated. For example: When a child does something wrong, such as biting, telling the child off or taking away a toy. Advantages: Teaches the subject the hard way meaning that they are much less likely to repeat the behaviour. Disadvantages: Makes the subject feel oppressed and like they have no free will to make their own choices.

  15. ‘Respondents’ and ‘Operants’ • A ‘respondent’ is when your behaviour changes in light of an external event • An ‘operant’ is when you change your behaviour in light of an external event • We are not able to control ‘respondents’ whereas, ‘operants’ are behaviours of our own accord • ‘Operants’ can cause consequences due to our choice of behaviour

  16. Key Skinner Terms • ‘Periodic Reconditioning’ – when ‘reinforcement’ is constantly put in place to encourage regular positive responses • ‘Extinction Ratio’ – the amount of responses generated per reinforcement • ‘Psuedo –Reflex’ – when someone only responds when a stimulus is put in place • ‘Escape Learning’ – when you know you must do something in order to make something else happen • ‘Avoidance Learning’ – when you must do something to avoid a certain consequence occurring

  17. Skinner’s Skinner Box Experiments • Skinner chose provide evidence for his theories through experiments using rats, pigeons and males • He used different experiments to show differing changes in behaviour • However, the problem with these experiments was that humans and animals behave in differing ways which alters the reliability of his results

  18. Results of The ‘Skinner Box’ Experiments • Skinner tested ‘Operant Behaviour’ using rats and food, as when food was released the rat soon began to recognise the noise and immediately knew it was about to be fed. • Skinner then developed upon this by inputting a device whereby the rat stood on it and food was released which meant the rat could feed itself

  19. Results of The ‘Skinner Box’ Experiments Continued • The role of this noise switched to being a ‘reinforcer’ to provide a link to the food for the rat • When Skinner removed the device the rat soon knew it would not get food via this method so stopped standing on it • Skinner used ‘negative reinforcement’ on a regular basis until eventually he had trained the rats to press the lever when a light came on and to press the lever to evade the electrical current which was evidence of ‘escape learning’ and ‘avoidance learning’

  20. References • Skinner, B.F., andDowling, W. F. (1973) Conversation with B . F. Skinner.Organizational Dynamics, 1, p.31-40 . • Demorest, A. (2005) Psychology’s Grand Theorists: How Personal Experiences Shaped Professional Ideas, New Jersey, Lawrence Eribaum Associates. • Hillgard, E.R (1948) Theories of Learning: The Century Psychology Series, New York, Appleton-Century-Crofts. • Grace, E. (2012) Kid’s Development, Available from [Accessed 18th October 2012] • Boeree, C. G. (2006) B.F. Skinner, Biography, Available from [Accessed 20th Obctober 2012]