Explanations of dysfunctional behaviour: Behaviourist

  • Created on: 30-05-16 00:48

Explanations of dysfunctional behaviour: Behaviourist


  • Evidence to support classical conditioning - WATSON AND RAYNOR
  • Show behaviours can be learnt and unlearnt - ALLYON AND HOUGHTON - reduced delusional speech when patients were not getting the reward of attention - behaviour was unlearned
  • Hopeful - predicts you can unlearn behaviours
  • No labelling/self fulfilling prophecies
  • Operant conditioning can be effective in treating DB - token economies for depression, exposure therapy for OCD, systematic desensitisation for phobias
  • Testable theory - predictions can be measured objectively
  • Focuses on present not past


  • Reductionist - no role for cognitive factors, has also been criticised by biological psychologists as it emphasises environmental learning too much which leaves less room for biology
  • WATSON AND RAYNOR - case study - can't generalise to all phobias
  • Too simplistic - for example, it cannot explain the complex myriad of symptoms in schizophrenia - no adequate exp. for all disorders
  • Not all phobias are due to classical conditioning - e.g. evolutionary phobias have developed overtime - presence of venomous spiders led to the evolution of a fear of spiders or made acquisition of a fear of spiders especially easy
  • Problems with animal studies, such as PAVLOV and SKINNER, and applying them to humans - humans and animals are different
  • Dehumanising


Like the biological and cognitive approaches, the behaviourist explanation is reductionist, and it is hopeful like the cognitive approach. However unlike the biological approach it is very dehumanising whereas the biological approach is more humane. It also focuses heavily on animal studies and applying them to human behaviour which can be an issue as humans and animals are different, whereas the cognitive and biological approaches do not have this problem.


No comments have yet been made