Behaviourism - A full summary of the Behaviourist Approach

Just a few pages of summary I did for myself today, hope it helps someone! :)

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Behaviourist Approach
Behaviour is learnt through our environment and is not innate. We are all born s blank slates, also
known as tabula rasa, and are influenced by society and our surroundings.
We learn through conditions in the environment. There are two main types of conditioning, Classical
and Operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning through association as demonstrated by
Ivan Pavlov who experimented on Dog's salvatory glands. He discovered this process whilst working
as a biologist experimenting on animals and found that whenever the dog saw a man in a white
coat he would begin to salivate as the animal had created an association between the man and
food. Pavlov even went as far as to test this on humans and concluded humans also learn through
conditioning. Operant conditioning is learning though rewards and punishments, this was tested by a
man named Skinner who experimented on rats and supdued them to electric shocks and treats for
certain behaviour, he too realised this could be applicable to humans also.
Social Learning Theory
Social learning theory was developed by neobehaviourists as appose to traditional/radical
behaviourists. The difference between the two is that neo-behaviourists are interested in mental
cognitions and doesn't exclude the mind.
Social learning theory looked at how we learn through observations and don't directly need to have
the treatment enforced upon us to learn from it. The person being observed is known as the `model'
and we see how the person is treated for their behaviour, if the person is rewarded for their
behaviour it is likely that we, the observers, will imitate it, this is known as vicarious reinforcement.
Social learning theory uses lab experiements as evidence for a hypothesis much like the radical
behaviourists. An example is Bandura's bobo doll experiment. In which a man named Bandura used
children to test if aggression can be learnt. They used adults as `models' and made the children
watch the models treating a play bobo doll in different ways. Bandura found that those who saw the
aggressive model were more likely to imitate and also that there was a correlation between the
same sex models and their observers increased imitation level. Bandura also found that aggression
was higher in the male subjects.
There are four stages to SLT, known as ARRM. This is attention ­ did they notice the behaviour?
Retention ­ do they remember what they saw? Reproduction ­ Could they imitate the behaviour?
And finally motivation ­ do they want to imitate the behaviour?
Another thing that Bandura believed affected aggression was the media, this was supported by an
experiment done by Eron Et Al in 1972 in which he tested the amount of aggression in 8 year olds
and the amount of TV they watched and found a correlation, but the correlation doesn't show
cause and effect only that there is a link.
Systematic Desensitisation
LINK!! Systematic desensitisation is a behaviour therapy as it looks at unlearning behaviour, much
like behaviourists think behaviour is learnt they also believe it can be unlearnt. In systematic
desensitisation it concentrates specially on unlearning phobias.
Much like behaviour (eg. Phobias) can be learnt it can also be unlearnt and new associations can be
The old association to the feared stimuli must be broken or severed usually through repeated
exposure to the stimuli.
Wolpe said in 1958 that SD involves 3 steps,
- Relaxation ­ Breathing techniques, mandras, deep muscle relaxation and as a last alternative
- Anxiety Hierarchy - this is a way of the patient rating their fears, from most manageable to the

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The therapist will start to expose the patient to the bottom of the hierarchy and
as they progress get higher and higher until they've conquered their fear, this could take anything
from 8-20 sessions and in extreme cases even longer.
- Exposure ­ the patient is exposed in a step by step way using the hierarchy.…read more


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