The Behaviourist Approach
Assumptions of The Behaviourist Approach
Behaviour Can be Explained in Terms of Classical Conditioning
Classical Conditioning occurs when an association is made between a previously unlearned response and a neutral stimulus. If the two are paired enough times, eventually the neutral stimulus will produce the unlearned response.
Ivan Pavlov first described the process of Classical Conditioning in 1904. He discovered it by accident when performing unrelated experiments on dogs. He noticed that the dogs would start salivating as soon as the lab assistant would walk into the room to feed them.
He began with salivation, which is a natural response, and aimed to produce it by ringing a bell. Before the conditioning, the bell produced no response from the dog. However, after the bell had been rung when food was presented a few times, the bell alone began to cause the salivation response.
Behaviour Can be Explained in Terms of Operant Conditioning
New behaviours are learnt through reinforcement. Any behaviour either results in reinforcements or punishments. Positive consequences are reinforcing and increase the probability that behaviour will be repeated. There are two types of reinforcement ; positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. Negative consequences are punishing and decrease the probability that behaviour will be repeated. Shaping enables complex behaviours to be learned through reinforcement of behaviours successively becoming closer to the target behaviour.
Skinner performed many experiments using animals. He placed the animal in a Skinner box. At first the animal would accidently press a red button which caused a food pellet to be delivered which is rewarding and reinforcing. Each time the animal activated the button and received food, it was reinforced until eventually the button is the only thing that the animal activates. The behaviour will stop if the animal receives an electric shock, which acts as a punishment, when it activated the button.
Theory : Social Learning Theory
Social Learning Theory suggests that individuals can acquire the ability to perform a new behaviour by watching that behaviour being performed by another. The observed behaviour is then imitated. Behaviours acquired in this way can therefore be learned without necessarily being performed.
Bandura (1977) identifies four processes in social learning, which are :-
Attention :- We notice the behaviour.
Retention :- We copy behaviours we can remember.
Reproduction :- We can only copy behaviours we believe we are capable of.
Motivation :- We must be motivated to reproduce behaviour.
The people who are imitated are referred to as models. Models tend to be parents of the same gender, siblings of the same gender and celebrities or people in the media. Behaviour is more likely to be imitated if the model is similar to the observer, powerful or significant in the observer’s life.
Bandura stated that we are influenced not just by the behaviour, but by the consequences for the person we are observing. If a person is rewarded or observes another person being rewarded for behaviour, they…