Behaviourist approach

  • Created by: 11v
  • Created on: 02-05-19 17:36

Assumption 1- blank slate

Behavioural psychologists believe that we are born with a blank slate, meaning that we are born with an empty mind, having no knowledge whastoever. We were only born with 'pre-programmed' reflexes such as hunger, crying or pain. We learn everything from our environment, and this is known as enviornmental determinism.This means we have no choice as to what or who we turn into.No choice over personality, attitudes and beliefs. Emotions don not play a role in our behaviour. Example, John Watson, who published a paper called Experimental Investigation of babies- advocated strict routine and tight control. Take a dozen children and train them to be any type of specialist he selects. Nurture over nature.

1 of 14

Assumption 2- behaviour learnt through conditionin

Classical conditioning- learning through association. Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which an existing involuntary reflex response is associated with a new stimulus. This occurs when an association is made between a previously unlearned response and a neutral stimulus is made. If they are paired enough times, they will produce the response. Classical conditioning was discovered by Ivan Pavlov while he was studying salivation in dogs. He observed that his dogs salivated when his assistants opened the doors to their cages and inferred that they must have learned to associate the opening of the doors with food. 

UCS (food)->UCR (salivation)

UCS (food)+NS (bell)->UCR (salivation)

CS (bell)->CR (salivation)

Learning has now taken place, and the neutral stimulus produces a conditioned response.

2 of 14

Assumption 2- behaviour learnt through conditionin

Behaviour is influenced by the consequences of our actions i.e. rewards and punishment.

Positive reinforcement- receiving something pleasant, negative reinforcement- removing something unpleasant. These increase the likelihood of a behaviour.

Punishment- giving something unpleasant or removing something pleasant. This decreases the likelihood of a behaviour.

Example- Skinner's rats- lever pressing continues continues as they receive food. Will continue indefinitely when food is occasionally given, which is partial reinforcement.

3 of 14

Assumption 3- Humans and animals learn in similar

The laws of learning are the same for humans and animals. This enables us to study learning in a laboratory environment and make generalisations about human behaviour without the added complications of human emotion.

Example- token economy programmes, Similar to Skinners rats, humans are conditioned using reinforcement and punishment. These principles have been used in token economy programmes, where behaviour mofdifications occurs to increase desirable behaviour. Given a token every time they present positive behaviour. Operant conditioning principles. Later exchanged for rewards. 

4 of 14

Application to a relationship

Classical conditioning. The primary drive of an infant is hunger, which becomes associated with secondary drives such as emotional confort. Therefore, the relationship develops because the infant seeks out the person that can supply the food comfort.

Operant conditioning- The infant learns that smiling brings positive responses from adults. When the child is hungry it cries, which is unpleasant for the mother who is likely to help the child. The crying acts as a negative reinforcer as the crying is removed, making the behaviour more likely in the future. 

5 of 14

Main components of aversion therapy

Individuals are repeatedly presented with an aversive stimulus at the same time when engaged in the undesirable behaviour. The aversive stimulus is repeatedly paired with the undesirable behaviour, which produces a UCR, such as avoidance. The clients loses their willingness to engage in the behavior. '

Use of Antabuse- disulfiram- antabuse affects the metabolism of alcohol, which causes a build-up of acetaldehyde which causes a range of unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting. Once an association has been been, they should avoid drinking alcohol. This treatment can be given once they have undergone withdrawal. 200mg to start with, and this may be increased. Should remain under supervision every 2 weeks for 2 months then monthly for 4 months.

Covert sensitisation- relies on the individual's ability to use their imagination than actually experiencing negative consequences. Verbally visualise symptoms. 

Operant conditioning- Once the association has been made, the individual will avoid future contact with the stimulus e.g. going to the pub. This is a negative reinforcement, which is avoidance of what is now an unpleasant situation. 

6 of 14

Evaluation of aversion therapy

Smith- alcoholics had higher abstinence rates after 1 yearthan those treated with counselling alone. 300 smokers, 52% of those treated with shocks maintained abstinence after 1 year. Might not be effective in treating other addictive behaviours. Can't say it's generalisable to all behaviours. Only helped half of smokers, not completely effective. What about after 1 year? Bancroft- 50%, high attrition rates. Might make the research less reliable. 

Miller- 3 groups, AT, counselling or both for alcoholics. Recovery was the same for all groups. Could just use counselling which is a safer treatment. Control group used- showing how it compares to other treatments. They could relapse after 1 year. Association could be forgotten. 

Symptom association. Some argue that the therapy fails to treat the root cause of the addiction, low self-esteem or trauma. Maladaptive!!!!! May become addicted to something else...

Risk of harm, right to withdraw, valid consent or thuse of more ethical alternatives.

7 of 14

Watson and Rayner

No IV or DV as it was a controlled observation. Laboratory environment. Oppurtunity sampling. Albert B, 9 months old. Healthy from birth, already at the hospital. Stolid and unemotional. Relatively little harm could be caused to Albert.

Well lit dark room. A number of stimuli to baseline condition (cotton wool, dog, monkey). Placed on mattress on top of a table. Recorded on motion picture table. 

8 of 14

Watson and Rayner procedures

Emotional tests- baseline measure (8 months 26 days old). Presented with various things including white rat, masks, rabbit, dog, monkey and cotton wool. The metal bar was hit by the hammer. 

Session 1, 11 months 3 days, establishing conditioned response. A white rat was presented to Albert then reached for it. As he touched the rat a loud noise was made behind him by hitting a steel bar with a hammer. This was then repeated. Session 2, 11 months 10 days, testing conditioned response. Rat was presented with no sound. Joint stimulation begun, which was done 3 times. Then rat alone. Then joint stimulation twice, then rat alone. Tested with blocks to see if he showed a reaction. In total, 7 joint stimulations were made. Rat and hammer carried out when he was given the blocks. Session 3, 11 months 15 days, generalisation. Albert was presented with the rat, wooden blocks, rabbit, dog, fur coat, cotton wool,Watson's hair and a santa claus mask. Session 4, 11 months 20 days, changing environment. After more joint stimulation with rat/rabbit/dogand sound to freshen up response. Large well-lit lecture hall to see if the response would generalise to otehr places. Rat/rabbit/dog presented alone. Session 5, 1 year, 21 days, effect of time. Presented with Santa Claus mask, fur coat, blocks, the rat the rabbit and the dog.

9 of 14

Watson and Rayner findings

Emotional tests, 8 months 26 days. No fear towards any of the objects, including a rat, dog, monkey, rabbit, cotton wool and burning newspaper. The first time the bar was struck Albert jumped, the second his lip started to pucker and on the third strike he began to cry. Session 1, 11 months 3 days. When the bar was struck he jumped violently and fell forward, burying his face in the mattress, The second time he fell forward and whimpered. Session 2, 11 months 10 days. With the rat alone Albert showed some hesitation. After further joint stimulations he became more distressed. When the rat was presented alone, Albert immediately began crying and quickly crawled away. Session 3, 11 months 15 days. Albert played happily with the blocks. When presented with the rat, he attempted to move quickly away from it. Negative reaction to other stimuli e.g. crawling away from fur coat.Reaction to rabbit as extreme as rat.Burst into tears and crawled away. Session 4, 11 months 20 days. A reduction in the negative reaction towards the rat but still attempted toget away from it. After 'freshening up', the conditioned fear response was stronger. Negative reactions to other stimuli. Continued to play happy with the blocks. Session 5, 1 year 21 days. Responded to the tests objects in a clearlyy different way. Reaction to furry objects not as strong but avoided them and whimpered. On occassions he cried e.g. with the Santa mask.

10 of 14

Conclusions from Watson and Rayner

Watson and Rayner concluded that joint stimulation can create a conditioned emotional response that can generalise to othe objects. Phobias can be learned this way and persistance of the response depends on the individual. Longer if 'constitutionally inferior'. Intensity of the reaction can be lost over time.Doesn't directly conflict with Freudian principles, but it shows that feat is a powerful motivator for behaviour.

11 of 14

Evaluation of Watson and Rayner

Population validity- only undertaken on one child. Healthy fro birth and he was very stable. As he was stable, it could be compared more objectively to see the effect of conditioning. However, not generalisable as they only did it on one child, so might not be the same for others. Not every child is as stable of Albert. In their defence, they did intend on increasing sample size but they were unable to. 

Internal validity- they had to freshen up the response through repeated joint stimulation. This shows that it was not learned as it was repeatedly reingrained. However, this enabled us to see he effect of continued exposure. Additionally, Albert was returned to normal state before re-testing, enabling us to see the true effect of each attempt. Researcher bias, they could choose what's significant and what's not. The baseline tests enabled comparison, although there wasn't a baseline test for fur coat and monkey. It was recorded so they could re-watch and identify behaviours.the study took place in a controlled environment with the pairing of the rat and noise was deliberately carried out by researchers. The variables were controlled. 

Ecological validity- Albert was in the hospital frequently, his normal surroundings. Stimuli is what children come across. It was generalised to othe settings. Some aspects are not what would happen, not what happens on an average day. Too controlled, poor mundane realism.

12 of 14

Ethical issues of Watson and Rayner

Stolid child- less likely to get emotionally distressed as he didn't frquently get upset. Defence.

They considered the welfare of Albert by giving him one week breaks, attempt to vercome issues. Defence, he was given a break. 

Wasn't allowed to soothe himself by sucking his thumb. This isn't ethical as it made him more distressed. This supports criticism. 

They understood the implications of creating a fear response. They knew it would occur in the child's real life. Ethical as he would experience it anyway. Defence.

The detachment process couldn't occur as the child was moved away. Not ethical as he was left with the conditioned response. However, tehy did have the intention.

Albert was a baby and couldn't give consent on something that could potentially affact him all his life. However, his mother gave consent for him, but she could have felt pressure to allow Watson and Rayner to do the observation. Uneducated, maybe couldn't give informed consent.

13 of 14

Watson and Rayner- social implications

14 of 14


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Behavioural psychology resources »