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Information About Behaviorism
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Behaviorism is a school of psychological thought which instructs that learning occurs
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Hello my name is Katherine Wald, I'm a licensed psychotherapist for About.com. Today we're going to be talking about behaviorism.Behaviorism is a school of psychological thought which instructs that learning occurs through interactions with the environment. Behavioral theorists focus on observable behavior. Adherents to this school of thought believe that inner mental states, such as feelings and emotions, are useless in explaining behavior because behavior is shaped by the environment.Well-known contributors to the behavioral theory are Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner. Pavlov and Skinner advocated two major aspects of behavioral theory known as classical conditioning and operant conditioning.Classical conditioning results when a stimulus that occurs naturally is balanced with a response. In Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs he paired food with external stimuli such as the sound of a tone. Eventually the dogs began to salivate (response) when they heard the stimulant (sound of the tone), even when food was not being given. The two actions are known as the conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response.Operant conditioning is a theory of behavior which explores how behavior and its consequences affect individuals and their future behavioral choices through rewards and punishment.This theory, made famous by B. F. Skinner, is best illustrated by the example of a person who touches a hot stove (behavior) and, as a result, burns a finger (consequence.) After being burned, that person will likely not touch the stove again.Skinner expanded operant conditioning to include what he called Operant Behavior.According to his theory, behavior does not depend upon a preceding stimulus, as advocated by Pavlov and others, but instead depends upon what happens after the response.For more information on psychological development, please visit our psychology section on About.com
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