Evaluation: Behaviourism


Evaluation: Behaviourism


  • Gave psychology scientific credibility-Focused on careful measurement of observable behaviour in a controlled setting, emphasised importance of scientific processes e.g. objectivity and replication, therefore gave psychology greater credibility and status
  • Real-life application- principles of conditioning have been applied to real-life behaviours and problems e.g. token economy in prisons, where prisoners can exchange tokens earned from good behaviour for rewards. These treatments are good for people who lack insight to their condition and are incapable of talking about their problems


  • Portrays a mechanistic view- Animals and humans viewed as passive responders to the environment with little conscious insight to their behaviour, other approaches e.g. social learning and cognitive place more emphasis on internal mental processes, so the processes between stimulus and response suggest humans play a more active role in learning
  • Form of environmental determinism- sees all behaviours as determined by past experiences and ignores free will, implies that when something happens, the past conditioning determined the outcome, not our free will, which is an extreme position that ignores influence of conscious decision making processes on behaviour
  • Ethical and practical issues- animal studies have allowed a high degree of control to be maintained, but has drawn attention to ethical issues e.g. animals were exposed to stressful conditions which could affect how they reacted in the experiment, so the research has a low validity due to 'unnatural' behaviour


Despite having real life application and giving psychology scientific credibility, the approach ignores free will and internal mental processing, and also has strong ethical issues linked to behaviourism studies.


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