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Behaviorism in Psychology

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Psychology is science of human actions and mental processes, using a vast amount of quality thorough research to discover and test out new hypothesis, and bring about new descriptions and theories which explain human behavior and thoughts etc. Although many know the definition of psychology most don’t realize how broad the study field of psychology is. Along with the field of study of psychology being immense, the diverse theories that continue to come about also seem endless. There are many theories and perspectives, many psychologist, physiologist, and scientist within psychology, the field itself is forever changing and will almost certainly always be shifting. The many different theories as well as perspectives circulating within the field of psychology have had a major impact on the way psychology is studied today. The diversity and similarities within these theories have evolved vastly and are being used in today’s educational, professional, and clinical fields all across the world.

There have been countless contributors, who have given knowledgeable information on the study of psychology today. From behaviorist perspectives’ to cognitive perspectives all are popular in modern day psychology and have paved the way for students studying this field. John B. Watson and B.F Skinner were distinguished and knowledgeable behaviorist, both of whom denied any theories that unconsciousness had an effect on human behavior. Watson was the organizer of the behaviorist movement in American Psychology. Watson was an extremely industrious scientist; he rejected any belief in instincts having control over any human behavior. This opinion he held was openly in contrast to humans being instinctively determined. Watson created his principles of behaviorism he rejected any theories or perspectives that contained any reference to human behavior relying on consciousness, intentions, or introspection, Yet, Watson strongly believed in experimentation and observation in laboratory settings. His research was important in contributing to classical behaviorism. Watson’s experiments and research consisted of manipulating surroundings of learning subjects; he strongly believed this manipulation was the key to nurturing development.

Watson also believed that if a subject was paired with a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned response, that he would be able to generate a new stimulus, or reaction. Through his research and experimentation he proved his theory that complex emotions could be learned when manipulating ones environment; he was very passionate of his theory and believed the only area of study in psychology should be behavior. Although, many people viewed John B Watson as a radical in classical behaviorism, and his perspective on the significance of one’s environment to be extreme, none could deny his vast impact on American Psychology. Because, Watson was such a significant contributor to classical behaviorism, he as well as his work, paved the way for B.F Sinner’s theory on Operant Behaviorism. B.F Skinner was also a behaviorist. Skinners entire system however, was based on operant conditioning; he, just as Watson, believed that one’s environment had an immense impact on one’s behavior.

In Skinner’s theory of Operant Conditioning he alleged that behavior results in a consequence, and that consequence alters one’s inclination to repeat that behavior; for example, behavior and or actions of a subject followed by a reinforcing stimulus results in an increased possibility of that behavior or action happening again or continuing. Skinner also created schedules of reinforcement; his theory consisted of how much reinforcement needed to be given and how often. Skinner’s theory was in relation to his idea based on his beliefs that learning is a function of alteration in overt behavior and nothing to do with instinct or human consciousness. His theory was based on and around the opinion that reinforcement was the key element of learning, and the reinforcement could be anything from a verbal praise to a reward, as long as that reinforcement strengthened the desired response. B.F Skinner not only strongly believed in positive reinforcement that would in hopes, strengthen a subject’s response, but also in negative reinforcement or punishment that would lessen actions or behavior that was unwanted.

Therefore, Skinner just as Watson was considered an extremist in his practice and research in Behaviorism. Watson and Skinner were one in the same; each man strongly believed that controlling and manipulating ones environment and situation could control ones behavior. Both men contributed majorly in the field of psychology, and the theories that both men were passionate about are still used currently in Modern Day Psychology. Behaviorism now a day is currently classified as behavior analysis and is a blooming field within psychology. In modern day psychology Skinners theory is widely used by numerous educators; for example schools give report cards to students on there learning capabilities good and bad grades hence positive and negative reinforcement. Some teachers even use positive reinforcement to reward children for good behavior at the end of the day. Although, Watson and Skinner were well known behaviorist they were not the only behaviorists that had an impact on psychology. Edward C. Tolman was also a behaviorist who made significant contributions to the study of behavior and learning. Tolman today is known as a cognitive behaviorist, he developed his own theory in behaviorism. Tolman was the creator of the cognitive theory of learning.

His theory was a trademark in the field of psychology. Although, Tolman just as Watson and Skinner, believed that learning had to do with ones environment, yet he differed from them as well; Tolman believed and proved that learning was possible without positive or negative reinforcement. Tolman believed that motives drove behavior, until some internal state is rectified, and until that occurs the organism or person continues to behave and act. Tolman unlike Watson and Skinner was not an extremist in fact he was always willing to alter his opinion and views if new proven theories arouse. He never believed that one opinion or belief was all encircling, where as, Watson and Skinner both, were adamant that behavior was the only true field of psychology and that learning could only be possible through manipulating ones environment. Watson and Skinner denied and paid no mind or attention to unconsciousness, intuition, reflexes, nor any innate reaction they believed any theories involving any of these ideas were pointless and uneducated.

Modern day psychology does have a relationship to all these men and their theories yet, Watson and Skinner are most popular because these gentlemen focused on the seen, and not the unseen, and Modern day psychology does not study the unseen only the seen therefore, Skinner as well as Watson are in great relation to Modern Day Psychology. Tolman is now seen as a Cognitive psychologist, in which this relates greatly to Modern Day Psychology as well. Tolman created, cognitive maps, which are still used in today’s behavior analysis. Sine behavior is seen modern day psychology focuses strongly on the particular field. Behaviorism focuses on how behavior is shaped by ones environment. The cognitive method deals with how thoughts and views as well as difficult problem solving tactics affect ones life. Both of these approaches are utilized greatly in Modern Day Psychology and all three men Edward Tolman, John B. Watson, and B.F Skinner all diverse yet similar have impacted the study of behavior and learning in a tremendous way.

Psychology is an ever growing field, that many individuals have a passion for, whether behaviorism, humanistic, or cognitive all fields relate to the same thing finding out the mystery of human actions and thought patterns. All three men have impacted the field of psychology greatly, and each men’s diversity has took the study of behaviorism a step further, and each men’s similarities have contributed to the passion that students, doctors, nurses, educators, and scholars have toward the field of psychology. Although Modern psychology mostly focuses on areas that are seen such as behavior, and lessen the focus on the unseen such as the human mind, or unconsciousness, Psychology remains a growing field that will forever have talented and intellectual individuals contributing new theories constantly. Psychology has been a major field in the past, and now the present, and will continue to grow and broaden with time.

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