Five Schools of Behaviorism - Free Essay

Published: 2023-09-10
Five Schools of Behaviorism - Free Essay
Essay type:  Definition essays
Categories:  Learning School Human behavior Community
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 949 words
8 min read

Behaviorism refers to a model of learning that is built on an indication that all behaviors are attained through training (Baum, 2016). The training happens through contact with the surroundings. The training can be carried out in two ways, which are operant and classical conditioning. It is believed that our actions are stimulated by how we connect with the environment. One can study behavior in an organized and discernable manner irrespective of the underlying mental state, and therefore, only observable behavior should be studied. However, it is believed by strict behaviorists that any person irrespective of internal events, personal traits as well as genetic background can achieve specific training for any given task. All it takes is the right conditioning. In this paper, we are going to outline the details of the five schools of behaviorism.

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Watson's methodological behaviorism

Methodological behaviorism states that only observable behavior should be studied by psychologists. This method rejects any method that entails the gathering of data through self-examination (Moore, 2013). The excluded self-examination analysis method for behavior includes unconscious motives and drives, as well as deliberately perceived thoughts and feelings. Watson had a drive and desire to adopt a different approach without necessarily disputing the existence of thoughts and feelings. Watson believed in the presence of a connection between a stimulus event in the environment and the resulting behavior in a learning process.

Moreover, this theory is referred to as the S-R theory. In conclusion, just like nature raises issues, humans must inherit a handful of the essential responses while the rest is learned. Moreover, through learning, a connection is developed between behavior and environment.

Hull's neobehaviorismHull asserted that Watson was scientifically wrong to reject unobservable events (Faruj, 2015). It had been observed that scientists were often making implications on events not directly found. Therefore, Hull's notion is that it was possible to deduce the existence of events that mediate between behavior and the surrounding. Hull's neobehaviorism is based on equating a meditating event and a measurable variable. However, a pure S-R theory in which a particular stimulus produces a definite output once it is subjected to given internal events facilitating the process.

Tolman's cognitive behaviorism

Cognitive behaviorism is a psychological study method that exploits overruling variables, typically hypothesized cognitive process, to give details about behavior (Wikenheiser and Redish, 2015). Tolman used a cognitive map as a mental symbol of an individual's environment. In studying this theory, Tolman used rats. It was discovered that a rat would be goal-oriented if put in a maze as it will aim at finding food instead of responding to the long chain of connections, and as a result, intervening variables could be used in learning. Tolman's theory is based on a mentalistic approach and that the rats used in the experiment were not only motivated by ambitions and routines but also had "prospects" and "theories." Conversely, Hull's intervening variables more physiological, including processes like fatigue and hunger. In conclusion, in latent learning, it is not a must to show observable demonstration to prove that learning took place, and therefore, learning can occur under various conditions.

Bandura's social learning theory

Bandura's theory of social learning uses a cognitive-behavioral approach the emphasizes on the significance of learning through observations and use of cognitive variables to explain human behavior (Luna, 2011). His unique study was on aggressive behavior and how it was impacted by observational learning. Bandura observed that environmental stimulus, internal events, and observable behavior were interacting and therefore influenced each other. He then called this concept, a reciprocal determinism.

Skinner's radical behaviorism

Radical behaviorism theory underscores the impact of surrounding on observable behavior. The method does not consider the influence of internal events in explaining behavior and asserts that feelings and thoughts should need to be explained as they are behavior themselves (Baum, 2011). The inability to change internal events is the main reason why internal events are not used to explain behavior. An example of a pseudo-explanation of behavior, according to Skinner, is a situation in which an ever-smiling person is perceived to be happy. In conclusion, according to Skinner, environmental events are the final determinant of both the external and internal events.

Identify whether giving her chocolate increases Lauren's participation in gym class.

From all the five methods, Watson's methodological behaviorism is the most suitable method. In trying to verify the assertions that chocolate motivates Lauren's participation in a gym class, the dependable variable will be the "Lauren's participation," and the independent variable will be the chocolate. The study will involve observing her performance in the gym on a day she is not given a bar of chocolate as well as the day she is given chocolate.

Watson's methodological behaviorism was chosen because it only relies on observable behavior. Bandura's social learning theory is the most related theory of this study. Bandura insists on the significance of learning through observations. Biological preparedness influences one's ability to respond to a specific stimulus and is mostly used to study conditioning processes.


Baum, W. M. (2016). Understanding behaviorism: Behavior, culture, and evolution. John Wiley & Sons.

Moore, J. (2013). Methodological behaviorism from the standpoint of a radical behaviorist. The Behavior Analyst, 36(2), 197-208.

Faruj, L. F. (2015). Neobehaviorism and second language acquisition. BRAIN. Broad Research in Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience, 3(4), 46-50.

Wikenheiser, A. M., & Redish, A. D. (2015). Decoding the cognitive map: ensemble hippocampal sequences and decision making. Current opinion in neurobiology, 32, 8-15.

Luna, E. C. (2011). A case study of the full-service community school model: School level benefits in an urban, southern elementary school.

Baum, W. M. (2011). What is radical behaviorism? A review of Jay Moore's Conceptual Foundations of Radical Behaviorism. Journal of the experimental analysis of behavior, 95(1), 119-126.

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