Sample Psychology Paper on Behaviorism


It is based on the assertion that the mental process is not something abstract, and the psychic phenomena are reduced to the reactions of the organism. In other words, behaviorism in psychology is the science of behavior. Personality, in the opinion of behaviorists, is a combination of behavioral reactions. And only what can be measured objectively is of practical value to psychology. “All that lies beyond the material: thoughts, feelings, consciousness – perhaps, and exist, but cannot be studied and cannot be used to correct human behavior” ( Dietrich & Feeley, 2016).. Only human reactions to the impact of specific stimuli and situations are real. Thus, in behaviorism, a person is viewed as an individual who is predisposed to a response, that is, it is a stable system of certain skills. On this basis, behaviorism emerged, which unambiguously swept away everything subjective and subjected a person to purely mathematical analysis. The founder of this theory was the American psychologist John Watson. He proposed a scheme that explains human behavior by the interaction of two material components: the stimulus and the reaction. Since they were objective, they could easily be measured and described. Watson believed that by studying the reaction of a person to various stimuli, one could easily predict the expected behavior, and also through influences and changes in environmental conditions, to form certain qualities, skills, and propensities in the profession in a person.

Behaviorism Overview (major theorists)

There are different eras for the development of behaviorism as a school of psychology. The famous theorist of behaviorism is Watson, Pavlov for Classical Conditioning, Edward Thorndike, Skinner for Operant Conditioning, Arthur Staats for Psychological Behaviorism, Albert Bandura for Social Learning Theory, etc. Factually, the most noteworthy division among kinds of behaviorism is that among Watson’s unique ‘methodological behaviorism,’ and types of behaviorism after that encouraged by his work, recognized jointly as neo-behaviorism. The concept of behaviorism was first put forward in 1913 by a native American psychologist, J. Watson.  He reorganizes psychology into an honestly exact science, based on features that are pragmatic entirely by an unbiassed way.  The leading supporter of the behavioral theory was B. Skinner, who established a set of experimental methods that permit us to compare behavioral acts with concepts usually used for the determination of illustration mental states. Skinner accredited to scientific terms solitary those that design physical concept and things. Also,” they construed notions of a mental appeal as “explanatory fictions,” since which it is essential to release “psychology as a science”. Laterally, Skinner aggressively promoted her cultural and social aspects. He was forbidden moral accountability and free will” ( Ekstrand & Willemsen, 2016).

Work of Pavlov

I.P. Pavlov suggested and proved that new forms of behavior could arise as a result of establishing a connection between innate forms of behavior (unconditioned reflexes) and a new stimulus (conditioned stimulus).” In the case of coincidence in time and space of the conditioned (new) and unconditioned stimulus of the unconditioned reaction, the new stimulus begins to cause an unconditioned reaction, and this leads to completely new behaviors”( Mason, 2017). The conditioned reflex formed in this way may serve as a basis for the formation of conditioned reflexes of the second and higher orders. Thus, according to Pavlov, all human behavior can be understood, studied and predicted by knowledge of the chain of conditioned reflexes, the mechanisms of their formation and damping. Pavlov conducted his experiments on animals, mainly on dogs. The classically conditioned reflex, carefully studied by Pavlov and coworkers, included the association of salivation at the sight of food in the dog and any other conditioned stimulus (for example, the sound of a bell). This process is called classical conditioning. The result of conditioning is called a conditioned reflex Pavlov made no special distinction between the conditioned and unconditioned reflex, believing that the emerging new form of behavior (the conditioned reflex) is fundamentally identical to the unconditioned reflex and can itself serve as a base for the formation of conditioned reflexes of the higher order. It should be noted that “Pavlov did not see the fundamental difference between the physiology of man and animals. He believed that the patterns established in experiments on animals could be applied without additional modification to the explanation of the formation of innovative ways of human behavior”( Rachlin, 2016). The whole complexity of human behavior, the whole history of his learning, thus, could be imagined as a complex chain of conditioned reflexes, interconnected and interdependent, predictable and measurable. This perspective encouraged many researchers to try to use the theory of reflexes for psychotherapy. “Pavlov’s first and second conclusions were subsequently subjected to critical analysis and are no longer perceived as indisputable” (Keller & Schoenfeld, 2014). The conditional and unconditioned reflex cannot be identified, if only because the former is formed according to a definite law (or condition) and may degrade over time, which does not happen with the unconditioned reflex. Conditional reflexes in humans have quite obvious and significant features that distinguish them from unconditioned ones. This can best be traced to the emergence of conditioned fears and mechanisms for their elimination.

How behaviorism use in schools today?

Behaviorism is devoted to the task of collective observation related to human behavior, in a way how one response in a circumstance with a sure stimulus. Due to the broad range of chores, behaviorism is going far away from its basic goal. Though the task is somewhat tough, it is realistic. Behaviorism inadequately reflected the need advanced by the logic of the development of scientific knowledge to expand the subject of psychological research. “Behaviorism acted as an antipode of the subjective (introspective) concept, which reduced the psychic life to the “facts of consciousness” and believed that beyond these facts lies an alien psychology world”( Schultz & Schultz, 2015). Critics of behaviorism later blamed his supporters for the fact that in their speeches against introspective psychology they were influenced by the version of consciousness that she had created. Accepting this version for the unshakable, they believed that it could either be accepted or rejected, but not transformed. Instead of looking at consciousness in a new way, they preferred to get rid of it altogether. Today, behaviorism no longer influences that it exerted on science in the middle of the twentieth century; however, some of its provisions are still used – trainers when working with animals; parents and teachers in the education of children. Quite often, adults use reinforcement/ punishment to form a new pattern of behavior in the child and prevent the reproduction of unwanted ones.





Dietrich, S. B., & Feeley, T. H. (2016). Behavior, Behaviorism, and Behavioral Sciences. The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy.

Ekstrand, M. D., & Willemsen, M. C. (2016). Behaviorism is not enough.

Keller, F. S., & Schoenfeld, W. N. (2014). Principles of psychology: A systematic text in the science of behavior (Vol. 2). BF Skinner Foundation.

Mason, S. A. (2017). Behaviorist Theory. Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders, 1-3.

Rachlin, H. (2016). Comments on Burgos’(2015) Antidualism and Antimentalism in radical Behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 44, 32-40.

Schultz, D. P., & Schultz, S. E. (2015). A history of modern psychology. Cengage Learning.