Learning Approach: Behaviourism

  • Created by: lyds28
  • Created on: 07-03-19 09:40


  • All behaviours are learnt from our environment - we are born as blank slates.
  • Focus on observable behaviour.
  • Animals and humans learn in the same ways so bahaviourists carry out experiments on animals and extrapolate the results to humans.
  • Psychology should be scientific and objective therefore behaviourists use mainly lab studies to achieve this. 
  • Mind is irrelevant - cant observe and measure people's thinking.
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classical conditioning: learning by association

  • learning through association
  • first shown by Ivan Pavlov -Pavlov's dogs:
    • dogs presented with food and salivated. 
    • food - unconditioned stimulus. Salivation - unconditioned response.
    • Pavlov sounded bell (neutral stimulus) before giving food. After a few pairings dogs salivated when they heard bell and no food. 
    • bell - conditioned stimulus. Salivation - conditioned response
    • Dogs had learnt to associate the bell with the food and the sound of the bell and salivation was triggered by the sound of the bell.
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Operant conditioning: learning by consequences

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The Skinner Box (1953)

  • hungry rat placed in a cage. Every time he activated the lever - food pellet fell in food dispenser (positive reinforcement) rats quickly leatnt to go straight to lever after few times - suggests positive reinforcement increases likelihood the behavior being repeated.
  • Applications:
    • Behaviorism increased our understanding of causes of phobias and attachment.
    • It has also given rise to therapies such as systematic desensitisation and token economy. 
  • Evaluation:
    • Sees all behaviour as determined by past experiences that have been conditioned - ignores free will.
    • Extrapolation.
    • Scientific - highly controlled.
    • Real life applications.
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