behavioral psychology



A school of psychology that explains all mental and physical activity in terms of response by glands and muscles to external factors (stimuli).

Behavioral psychology maintains that (1) behavior is both conditioned and determined by its own outcomes or consequences (rewards and punishments); (2) human behavior can be understood by investigating animal behavior; (3) only the observable and measurable aspects of a behavior are worth investigating; (4) repetition alone brings mastery which is the same as understanding; (5) knowledge is something given by an instructor and taken (acquired) by a learner; (6) an instructor should focus on changing the learner's behavior and not his or her thinking patterns; and (7) mind (and thus consciousness) does not exist as far as scientific investigation is concerned. Relying on the work of the Russian Nobel laureate physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936) with dogs, behavioral psychology was developed by the US psychologist John Broadus Watson (1878-1958), and established as the then mainstream psychology by the US researcher Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990). It held sway during 1920s to 1960s but was largely abandoned afterwards in favor of the radically different discipline of cognitive psychology. However, its basic tenet that what people do is the only dependable indicator of their future behavior still holds as true as ever.

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