Evaluating the behaviourist approach


Evaluating the behaviourist appr


  • Controlled research - measure observable behaviours in laboratory settings. This removes any extraneous variables affecting the research validity. This allows cause and effect to be established and give scientific credibility.
  • Real world applications - operant conditioning has helped to develop a token economy in prisons and hospitals, etc. This shows the behaviourist approach has beneficial practical applications


  • Countering controlled research - behaviours may have been oversimplified, reductionist approach. Learning is more complex than observable behaviours and is therefore an incomplete way of explaining behaviours and learning.
  • Environmental determinism - all behaviour is seen as a result of conditioning. This ignores the idea of free will and decision making, which restricts the application of the behaviourist approach.
  • Ethical issues - animal studies are usually unethical due to lack of consent and often abuse.


The behaviourist approach is a good way of explaining some behaviours, however this is not a comprehensive explanation.m


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