Theories Of Watson Pavlov And Skinner Psychology Essay

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According to Goodwin, the theory of Behaviorism is a learning process that requires conditioning of behaviors that occur through interactions with the environment. The studies of Behaviors are done through methodical observations process. The behaviorists took an interest in stimuli responses in animals therefore their views are identified as being a study of natural sciences. Behaviorism seemed to provide a more objective look at humans, behaviors, and the reasoning behind behaviors. Many psychologists were breaking from introspection in experimental psychology and wanted a more objective way of describing behavior. The psychologists who contributed to this new way of thinking are Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner who greatly influenced the field of psychology by introducing Behaviorism. They discovered through their own unique methods that behaviors are determined by the repetition of learned responses. Individually however, each practitioner has left a unique mark on the historical map of psychology, affecting our current practices as well. All three practitioners essentially followed the notion that reinforcement and conditioning are key concepts, and they used experimental analysis of learning as their key methodologies. All three psychologists wanted to study behavior objectively and they all worked with animals in their experimentation on modifying and changing behaviors. The major differences in the three were that Skinner took a more radical approach to the science of psychology. (Goodwin, 2008).

According to Rutherford (2000), Skinner’s radical behaviorism is distinguished from other forms of behaviorism, because of its position on the nature of scientific inquiry that arises out of the logical commitment to scientific observations. Because events inside the mind cannot be publicly observed or verified by consensus are ruled out of scientific accounts, and introspection is abandoned as a scientific method. In this conceptual framework, the usefulness of intrapsychic processes in explaining behavior is eliminated. (Rutherford, 2000).

Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)

According to Goodwin (2008), Pavlov had originally worked a lot with gastrointestinal reflexes, which is what led to his research on the salivating dog. He understood salivary response, and was able to manipulate it and use it to gain insight into human behaviors. In his laboratory, he studied the digestive systems of dogs, which, in turn, lead to the study of what is now called classical conditioning. Pavlov described the basic procedure for classical conditioning. The technique is to pair a particular response (salivation) with a neutral stimulus, such as a sound of a bell. For Pavlov, the unconditioned response (UCR) is salivation whereas food is the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) was presented to the animal. Conditioning involved presenting a neutral stimulus (bell), with the UCS (food). This neutral stimulus is then called a conditioned stimulus (CS) after the pairing, because the resulting response depended on conditional stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus (CS-UCS) pairing. This resulting response was called an conditioned response (CR) of salivation. (Pavlov, 1906, p. 616 as cited in Goodwin, 2008). The importance of Pavlov’s conditioning experiments is how it related to the learning process, because this contribution was unique in the field of psychology (Goodwin, 2008).

John B. Watson (1878-1958)

According to Goodwin (2008). Watson was the founder of the American school of behavioral psychology. Being such a pioneer, Watson taught that responses to a stimuli can be predicted! In 1913, Watson wrote a speech, referred to as The Behaviorist Manifesto, which breaks from introspection in experimental psychology and wanted a more objective way of describing behaviors. Behaviorism seemed to provide a more objective look at humans, behavior, and the reasoning behind behavior. Many psychologists were breaking from introspection in experimental psychology and wanted a more objective way of describing behavior. Watson was interested in comparative psychology, which lead to his experimented with mazes and white rats. He wanted to know, which senses were most important for learning, and this was done by systematically removing various senses from the animals. Watson eventually continued working with training animals to respond correctly to a stimulus, while not responding to another. After Watson’s experiment with the “maze” he want to continued his work in studying emotional development, because he thought this can improve the quality of life, based on conditioning of the motor reflex. An opportunity to study infants was Watson’s chance to apply behaviorism. Watson observed infants and introduced different types of stimuli’s to record the responses of the environmental effects it has on the small child. The “Little Albert” study was then developed by Watson after he narrowed down the three basic responses of fear, rage, and love in infants and older children that also respond similarly in a larger base to the same stimuli’s as the infants thus following the conditioning methods introduced by the environment. Watson concentrated on the environmental effects had on animals and humans and the responses they had from the environmental influence (Goodwin, 2008).

B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)

According to Goodwin (2008), Skinner was greatly influenced by both Pavlov and Watson. In fact, Pavlov had said “control your conditions and you will see order” (Skinner, 1956, p. 223 as cited in Goodwin, 2008). In 1928 at Harvard, he was drawn to behaviorism, although a more radical form than previously known. Skinner believed that psychology should have but two goals, the prediction and control of behavior, both in animals and human. This would be accomplished through an experimental analysis of behavior. Skinner’s researches lead him to operant conditioning through positive and negative reinforcement. In operant conditioning, a behavior is produced, if it is followed by some consequence, and the future chances of that behavior occurring are determined by those consequences. If the consequences are positive, a behavior being rewarded, for example, the behavior is strengthened. If the consequences are negative (punishment following some behavior), on the other hand, the behavior is weakened. Skinner unlike Watson and Pavlov discovered through his recordings that behavior did not depend on preceding stimuli. Skinner chose the term operant to describe this form of behavior, because the behavior “operates” on the environment, when it happens, it produces a predictable outcome. Operant Conditioning is based on how an organism processes the environmental factors. The behavior that is followed by a consequence is operant conditioning. The nature of the consequences alters behavior in individuals. Of all of his work, the most memorable contribution of his to Behaviorism and to psychology as a whole would have to be the infamous “Skinner Box” in my opinion. He loved to manipulate and fine-tune the details of operant conditioning, and the Skinner Box allowed for controlled experiments. Skinner was just as unique as Watson and Pavlov and he certainly left a substantial mark in the field of behavioral psychology. The importance of Skinner’s operant conditioning experiments is how it related to the learning process, which has become a contribution part in field of psychology (Goodwin, 2008).

The changes to behaviorism, including the integration of cognitive theory are explained.

According to Meichenbaum, (1977), the specific area in the practice of psychology where behaviorist treatment is still valid is in cognitive behavior therapy. This form of therapy attempt to change problem feelings and behaviors by changing the way clients thinks about significant life experiences. Underlying this approach is the assumption that abnormal behavior patterns and emotional distress start with problems in what we think cognitive content, and how we think which cognitive process is. The increasing numbers of cognitive therapies focus on different types of cognitive processes and different methods for cognitive restructuring. The two major approaches are those that involve cognitive behavior modification which includes self-efficacy and those that try to alter false beliefs systems that include rational-emotive therapy and cognitive therapy for depression. However, cognitive behavior modification is a therapeutic approach. It combines the cognitive emphasis and the importance of thoughts and attitudes. Nevertheless, it influences motivation and response, with the focus of behaviorism on performance that is changed by modifying reinforcement contingencies. However, unacceptable behavior patterns are modified by changing a person’s negative self-statements into constructive coping statements. The three phases process for changing behavior patterns. The phase for changing behavior patterns includes cognitive preparation in which the therapist and client discovers how the client thinks about and expresses the problem for which therapies therapy is sought. Next, skill acquaintance and rehearsal, which involves learning new self-statement that are constructive, while minimizing the use of self-defeating. Nevertheless, one’s anxiety, eliciting, esteem reducing, and finally, application and practice of the new learning actual situations, starting with easy one and graduating to those that are more difficult. Moreover, cognitive behavior therapy aims to change problem feelings and behaviors by changing an individual’s perceptions and thoughts. Cognitive behavior modification combines reinforcement of positive self-statements with new constructive actions, seeing one’s successes and taking credit for them changes one’s cognitions about oneself and create expectations of personal effectiveness. All in all, Cognitive behavior therapy is valid in the practice of psychology where behaviorist treatment is considered valid. (Meichenbaum,1977).

The current applications of behaviorism and cognitive-behavior theory are explained.

Behaviorism began to take place in the 30’s (Goodwin, 2008). One specific area in the practice of psychology where behaviorist treatment is considered valid is cognitive therapy. The efficacy of individual and group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for alcohol use disorders (AUDs) has been demonstrated in multiple randomized clinical trials (Morgenstern & Longabaugh, 2000). CBT is grounded in Social Cognitive Theory, which posits that maladaptive alcohol use (or other behavioral health problems) is a result of personal skills deficits. In CBT, therapists instruct and support their clients in the use of a variety of inter and intrapersonal coping skills and encourage their application in real-life situations. Theoretically, cognitive-behavioral therapy can be employed in any situation in which there is a pattern of unwanted behavior accompanied by distress and impairment. It is a recommended treatment option for a number of mental disorders (Morgenstern & Longabaugh, 2000).

Cognitive therapists believe that maladaptive cognitions arise from faulty social learning, dysfunctional family experiences, or from traumatic events. Cognitive behavioral therapy has a tremendous effect on clients with psychological problems. The effects of this treatment have been proven to be extremely powerful in treating many psychological problems by approaching irrational and or negative automatic thoughts and changing behavioral reactions to fearful and avoidance causing situations (Rose, et al, 2012). Specific processes of CBT include analyzing one’s automatic thoughts and replacing them with more rational and positive alternative thoughts that are based more on fact and gradually exposing and accustoming the client to feared situations. The positive effects of CBT come from attacking and defeating thoughts and behaviors that can cause negative emotions. CBT is powerful because it teaches the client about the detrimental significance of the maladaptive thinking processes and maladaptive behaviors have triggered thoughts based more on assumptions than facts. This, in turn, has a powerful influence on affecting the client’s behavior in a healthy and positive direction.

According to Morgenstern, J., Blanchard, K. A., Morgan, T. J., Labouvie, E., & Hayaki, J. (2001), Cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for substance abuse has demonstrated efficacy in repeated clinical trials. Community practitioners have a favorable view of CBT and appear to be incorporating some elements of CBT, in to their relapse prevention, into standard care. CBT’s strong conceptual underpinnings, track record of efficacy across substance use problems, and acceptance among practitioners make it a promising candidate for dissemination to community-based organizations. CBT was more effective when delivered as one component of an intensive program than as a stand-alone treatment. Second, reviews have suggested that CBT may be more effective for treating alcohol than cocaine problems. Third, psychotherapy studies, including those for substance abuse, postulate that high adherence to a single approach will yield better outcomes than an eclectic, clinically determined mix of techniques (Morgenstern, J., Blanchard, K. A., Morgan, T. J., Labouvie, E., & Hayaki, J., 2001).

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