Prior to engaging in this discussion, read the Introduction and Chapter One in your required e-book, watch the video, and review the Instructor Guidance.
- Summarize the following constructs that the behaviorist movement promotes:
- Associative learning
- Connectionism, including the laws of learning
- Reflect on your own experiences in the workplace or in organizational settings (school, church, volunteer sites). What is an example of applied behaviorism that you have experienced in one of these settings?
- Based on your e-book commentary, why do you think the reader is encouraged to think skeptically about the content included?
- Are there potential concerns with associating learning behaviors with theory based only on anti-mentalism?
- What truths can be disseminated from the historic evolution of the behaviorist framework?
Behaviorism (or behaviourism) is a systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and other animals. It assumes that all behaviors are either produced by a response to certain stimuli in the environment, or a consequence of that individual’s history, including especially reinforcement and punishment, together with the individual’s current motivational state and controlling stimuli. Although behaviorists generally accept the important role of in determining behavior, they focus primarily on environmental factors.
Behaviorism combines elements of philosophy, methodology, and psychological theory. It emerged in the late nineteenth century as a reaction to and other traditional forms of psychology, which often had difficulty making predictions that could be tested experimentally. The earliest derivatives of Behaviorism can be traced back to the late 19th century where pioneered the , a process that involved strengthening or weakening behavior through the use of and .
During the first half of the twentieth century, devised , which rejected and sought to understand behavior by only measuring observable behaviors and events. It was not until the 1930s that suggested that private events—including thoughts and feelings—should be subjected to the same controlling variables as observable behavior, which became the basis for his philosophy called “.” While Watson and investigated the stimulus-response procedures of , Skinner assessed the controlling nature of consequences and also its potential effect on the ; the technique became known as .
Skinner’s radical behaviorism has been highly successful experimentally, revealing new phenomena with new methods, but Skinner’s dismissal of theory limited its development. Theoretical behaviorism recognized that a historical system, an organism, has a state as well as sensitivity to stimuli and the ability to emit responses. Indeed, Skinner himself acknowledged the possibility of what he called “latent” responses in humans, even though he neglected to extend this idea to rats and pigeons. Latent responses constitute a repertoire, from which operant reinforcement can select.