Behaviourist Approach


Behaviourist Assumptions

  • Behaviour is learnt through the environment via stimulus-response links
  • All behaviour must be observable and should be studied in an objective way (no emotions)
  • Animals can be used to study psychological principles such as classical and operant conditioning e.g. Pavlov's dogs and Skinner's rats. These results can be generalised through the theory of evolution
  • Behaviours can be shaped through operant conditioning through consequences (positive and negative reinforcement and punishment) and classical conditioning (association)
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Behaviourist Supporting Evidence

Skinner - Skinner's Box

  • Rats were placed into the Skinner box that released a food pellet after a lever was pressed by the rat (positive reinforcement)
  • The rats learned to press the lever showing operant conditioning
  • The box was an adapted and an electrical current was passed through a grid below the rat which could only be stopped by pressing the lever (negative reinforcement).
  • The rat learned to press the lever showing operant conditioning.
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