Behaviourist approach

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: gracepxx
  • Created on: 14-04-16 13:20

Assumption 1

Behaviour explained in terms of classical conditioning

New behaviours learned through association - Pavlov

Unconditional stimulus (US) causes unconditional response (UCR)

Neutral stimulus (NS) becomes associated with US, becoming a conditioned stimulus (CS)

CS causes conditioned response (CR)

Being bitten (UCS) causes a fear response (UCR)

Presence of dog (NS) at same time as being bitten leads to association being formed and dog (now CS) produced fear (CR)

1 of 16

Assumption 2

Behaviour explained by operant conditioning 

New behaviours learned through reinforcement and punishment - Skinner 

Organism operates on environment, leading to: 

Positive consequences - reinforcing and increasing probability of behaviour being repeated - positive and negative reinforcement 
Negative consequences - punishing and decreasing probability of behaviour being repeated 
Shaping enables complex behaviours to be learned through reinforceemnt of behaviours successively closer to target behaviour 

Pigeon placed in cage, pecks all over the place and accidently pecks the button
Causes food pellet to be delivered - rewarding - reinforcement 
Each time button is pecked, food is released - behaviour reinforced until eventually button is only thing pigeon pecks
Behaviour will stop is pigeon recieves electic shock (punisher) when pecking button

2 of 16

Theory - SLT - P1

Traditional learning theory suggests all behaviour is learned directly

1960s - Bandura relalised this couldn't explain everything therefore suggested we also learn through obervation of others - learn indirectly through social context

Applied SLT to acquisition of aggressive behaviours 

Urge to be aggressive may be biological but specifics of being aggressive are learnt through both direct reinforcement but also indirectly through social learning 

3 of 16

Theory - SLT - P2

Children watch behaviour of role models and imitate this as seen in Bandura's Bobo doll study 

Bandura et al (1961) - children aged 3-5 years watched an adult playing with toys, including Bobo doll 

Half children saw adult model behave aggressively towards doll and half did not

Later, when given chance to play with doll, children who saw aggression were more likely to hit the doll than those who had not seen role model behave in this way

First group repeated specific words they had heard "pow"

Evidence of observational learning and imitation of role models 

4 of 16

Theory - SLT - P3

Bandura & Walters (1965) - divided Ps -
1) children saw model rewarded for aggressive behaviour
2) model was punished for behaviour
3)neither rewarded nor punished 

More likely to repeat aggressive behaviour if saw rewarded given to model 

Evidence of vicarious reinforcement - indirect reinforcements give info about consequences of aggressive behaviour 

Children who saw model punished were least likely to repeat 

Those who saw neither fell between the two groups 

5 of 16

Theory - SLT - P4

In order for social learning to take place, individual must form mental representation of what they have observed

Store information about associated rewards and/or punishment which constitute their personal expectancies of future outcomes 

If in future an oppertunity arises to behave in a similarly aggressive way, only happen if expectancy of positive future outcomes is high enough

6 of 16

Therapy - SD - P1

Links to behaviourist assumption that mentally-disordered behaviour is learned like any other behaviour 

Aim of SD is to learn new stimulus-response association through classival conditioning so an undesirable behaviour can be repressed

Before therapy, feared object associated with anxiety, after with relaxation

Technique developed by Wolpe (1950s)

7 of 16

Therapy - SD - P2

Patient taught relaxation techniques - relaxation inhibits anxiety 

Therapist and patient construct desensitisation hierachy - a series of imagined scenes ranging from least to most anxiety provoking 

Patient gradually moves through desensitisation hierachy, each time visualising anxiety-provoking scene at the same time as practicing relaxation 

At each stage of hierachy patient masters total relaxation 

Patient eventually masters the most anxiety-provoking and thus overcomes phobia

8 of 16

Therapy - SD - P3

SD is an example of counterconditioning 

Individual has learned to associate the feared object with anxiety

E.g. being bitten (UCS) creates fear (UCR). If bite from a dog (NS) then dog becomes CS and produces fear response (CR)

Then, through SD the individual acquires new stimulus-response link using classical conditioning, the phobic object becomes associated with relaxation

New response runs counter to original response of fear, eliminating initial undesirable association 

9 of 16

Therapy - SD - P4

There are different variations of SD

In vitro sensitisation - feared object imagined using pictures or thought 

In vivo desensitisation - fears directly confronted 

Menzies & Clarke (1993) - reported in vivo techniques are more successful than in vitro but more distressing 

10 of 16

Evaluation - Strengths - P1

Behaviourist approach is scientific 

Explanations have clear variables that can be directly observed and measured, as opposed to thoughts and feelings which can only be inferred 

Research can investigate obervable behaviours such as the effect of reinforcement on learning - experiments conducted where individuals are rewarded for particular behaviours to see if behaviour changes

Scienfitic approach adantageous - allows us to distinguish mere beliefs from fact 

People want evidence to show treatments for mental illness worl - approach desirable 

11 of 16

Evaluation - Strengths - P2

Behaviourist explanations have been successfully applied to real world

Principles of classical conditioning applied in SD to help people suffering with phobias

Strength because ultimately psychologists conduct reseach and develop theories to improve world we live in

Explanations help us to set dynamics behind everyday behvaiours such as parents rewarding/punishing child to shape behaviour - understanding dynamics enables us to develop strategies further 

12 of 16

Evaluation - Weakness - P1

Determinist approach - suggests behaviour caused by associations, reinforcements and punishments rather than personal decisions (Free will) 

Reason you don't murder is because you'd be punished, not because it is morally wrong

View undermines sense of free will that we have when making decisions - means nobody has responsibility for behaviour 

Implications - courts cannot hold people accountable for any wrong doing - should just be punished to change behaviour

13 of 16

Evaluation - Weakness - P2

Approach more relevant to animals than humans 

Believes animals are essentially no different, same building blocks (stimulus-response) explain new behaviours 

Origins of theory lie in Pavlov's work in conditioning in dogs & Skinner's work on operant conditioning in pigeons and rats 

Research bias produces erraneous picture of human behaviour because humans have the power of thought, unlike most non-human animals 

Principles of behaviourism therefore only apply to a limited extent to human behaviour 

Cognitive behavioural therapy offers compromise of appraoches 

14 of 16

Methodology - P1

Uses lab experiments -  Approach seeks to provide objective and scientific appraoch to understanding behaviour  
Assumes all we need to do to understand behaviour is to observe it, therefore is no need to search the mind 

Involves manipulatinf operationalised variables 
Complex behaviours reduced to individual units that can be studied 
In Bandrua's study- target behaviour was aggression - operationalised in terms of sitting on the Bobo, punching it, and saying "pow"
Aim to identify ausal relationship - in lab, IV is manipulated to see effect on DV
Bandura - IV was behaviour of model and DV was aggression score determined by observing child playing with doll 

Advantage - Control - In Bandura's study - possible to control EX variables to ensure they didn't effect DV
Advantage - Replication - Bandura able to control method so it could be replicated by other researchers - means validity of study can be demonstrated 

Disadvantage - Ecological val - conducted in contrived environment - behaviour different to everyday - lab experiments lack ecological validity
Disadvantage - Demand cha - some children said Bobo was for hitting - aggressive behaviour due to demand characteristics              

15 of 16

Methodology - P2

One assumptionof behaviourist approach is that all behaviour is based on same building blocks(stimulis-response units)
Therefore study behaviour of non-human animals to understand human behaviour
Pavlov's work on classical conditioning in dogs & Skinner's work on operant conditioning in rats

Advantage - Real life applications - successfully applied to humans (tjerapy for mental disorders)
Advantage - Easier - easy to research animals - fewer ethical issues & no demand characteristics 

Disadvantage - Generalisability - Human behaviour also governed by thought so animal research cannot be fully generalised to humans 
Disadvantage - Ethical issues - can't consent, debate about use of animals as renewable resource 

16 of 16


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Approaches resources »