Evolution/
History behaviorism

Human
behavior exists as long as the existence of humans. Throughout time behavior
changed and developed but also our knowledge developed and increased.

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In 1897 Pavlov discovered by accident the
classical conditioning. The initiative research was meant to show that dogs do
not need to learn certain things. For example dogs salivate whenever they see
food, this is an unconditioned response. While experimenting this, Pavlov
discovered that not only food triggers the system but also other objects which
or associated with food. The dogs in the experiment had learned to associate
the bell with food. This is learned since it started at some point but not from
the start on, the behavior of the dogs changed. The ringing of the bell changed
from neutral stimulus to unconditioned stimuli, since the bell was directly
associated with food. By ringing the bell the direct response was an increase
in salivation. Since this response was learned through repetition it is called
a conditioned response. The conclusion Pavlov found was that associations are
made by two stimuli presenting close together in time. (Pavlov)

After Pavlov’s experiment and theory there were other
scientists who brought in their own opinion and experiment. Pavlov showed that
his theory applied to animals, but the question which arises was, does the
theory also apply to humans?

Watson and Rayner were the ones
experimenting with humans to prove the theory for humans as well. Their Little
Albert Experiment shows that classical conditioning could be used to create a
phobia. Albert showed no fear by a couple of animals which were shown to him.
However what did frighten him and cause him to be afraid was a very loud sudden
noise.

After
Albert was 11 months old a white rat was presented, followed by the noise. This
was repeated a couple of times a week, over the next seven weeks. Every time
Albert cried because he got scared. Leaving the noise out of the picture had no
effect, every time he saw the rat he immediately showed his fear. Not only was the theory proved to
apply Pavlov’s theory, they also found that Albert developed his phobias
to any object and animal which had the same characteristics as the rat,
generalization. After some time not seeing any rat in combination with the
sound makes the fear to decrease. However the association could still be
renewed by repeating the experiment. (McLeod, Classical
Conditioning, 2014)

 

Edward Lee Thorndike used the law of effect for
his experiment. A short explanation for the law of effect would be that a
feeling after a certain behavior has effect on the behavior being repeated or
not. Thorndike theorized that animals learn by trial and error. When something
works to the animals satisfaction, the animal connects that behavior with the
positive outcome. When the animal makes a mistake there is no association
formed between the behavior that led to the error and a positive outcome. With
this information there could be conclude that the ineffective behavior is less
likely to reappear.
Thorndike declared that a punishment is ineffective when wanting to remove the
connection between behavior and the result. He suggested that behavior is not very
predictable, particularly when it comes to punishments. (McLeod, Edward Thorndike, 2007)

B. F. Skinner believed the theories before his
were inadequate, therefor he wrote a novel with his view. He saw behaviorism
not as ‘science of human behavior but as the philosophy of that science’. (Skinner, 1974) Skinner introduced
operant conditioning , an elaboration of the classical conditioning. Operant
conditioning takes into account more factors which have an influence on
behavior, it involves human intelligence and will operate on its environment
instead of being simply a response to the stimuli. Behavior is not only an
automatic response to the stimuli but there is also choice and free will. The
probability that a type of behavior will be repeated is in conditional
relationship with the amount of pleasure that the behavior has caused.

When behavior has a reinforcing consequence it
is more likely to occur again. There are different types of reinforcements. A
positive reinforcement and a negative reinforcement. The positive strengthens
the behavior which produces it, the negative reinforcement strengthens the
behavior which reduces or terminates it. When needing to describe why something
is reinforcing most answers will be based on feeling, seeing, sound, smell or
taste. The point of view provided by behaviorists state that is due to its
survival value instead of any associated feelings.

Punishment will be confused with negative
reinforcement very easily. The difference between the two is that negative
reinforcement generates behavior, it leads to action. While a punishment is
designed to remove behavior from a repertoire. As one gets a punishment various
stimuli generated by the behavior or the occasion are conditioned in the
respondent reaction, and the corrected behavior is replaced by irreconcilable
behavior conditioned as escape or prevention. (Skinner, 1974)

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