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Outline and Evaluate the Behavioural Approach

Autor:   •  October 16, 2017  •  Essay  •  685 Words (3 Pages)  •  371 Views

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The behavioural approach is an explanation that states all behaviour is learnt either through classical or operant conditioning. This approach looks at all human behaviour from a learning perspective and its main assumption is that all behaviour is learnt from past experiences.

One of the main principles of the behavioural approach is that only treats what it sees, with behaviourists taking the view that if it cannot be observed, measured or tested, it cannot exist. It explains behaviour in terms of past events. Although this simplifies the approach, it makes it highly reductionist as a psychological explanation. A limitation of this is that psychological illnesses such as PTSD, depression and phobias or often a direct cause of a traumatic past event. The behavioural approach would not take this into account so doesn’t account for these types of mental health problems.

Classical conditioning uses an unconditioned stimulus which produces an unconditioned response, then a neutral stimulus becomes associated with the unconditioned response and the now conditioned stimulus will cause the conditioned response to occur.

Operant conditioning works on a similar basis: changing behaviour by reinforcers, given after the desired responses. It focuses on positive and negative reinforcement with the association. Reinforcers are responses from the environment that increase the chances of behaviour being repeated. Punishers are the responses that decrease the likelihood of a behaviour being repeated.

Some strengths of the behavioural approach are that it has the ability to clearly identify define behaviour, so makes it possible to measure exact changes in said behaviour. Furthermore this makes it a very scientifically backed explanation (increasing the internal validity of behaviourist studies) and there are many practical applications for this explanation, for instance with phobias, operant conditioning has proven an effective way of modifying behaviour. The behavioural approach also has many real life practical applications for instance in education, children are often rewarded for good work and encouraged to continue the good behaviour.

On the other hand, behaviour is often studied under very artificial conditions in labs than do not reflect real-world contexts very


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