Behaviorism and Social Learning

Behaviorism focuses on the response that occurs after certain stimuli are introduced. One of the main theorists for behaviorism is Ivan Pavlov. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who came up with the concept of classical conditioning. Pavlov performed an experiment in which he introduced an unconditioned stimulus that caused an unconditioned response and then paired the unconditioned stimulus with a neutral stimulus in order to develop a conditioned response. An unconditioned response is something that occurs naturally as a result of an unconditioned stimulus without having to do any training. A conditioned response is the same as the unconditioned response except that it occurs after a neutral stimulus is introduced alongside the unconditioned stimulus enough times to where it becomes a conditioned stimulus and the response can be achieved through this stimulus alone. Pavlov also discusses stimulus generalization in which the conditioned response can be achieved not only through the conditioned stimulus but also through things similar to the conditioned response. He also explains extinction, which is when the conditioned stimulus wears off and the conditioned response can no longer be achieved. While Pavlov performed his experiment with animals, John Watson, a psychologist, performed a similar experiment with a human baby in which he conditioned the child to fear animals. Watson’s goal was to express that classical conditioning can work with humans. He also presented the theory of counter-conditioning in which he began to associate animals with pleasant things in order to reverse the conditioning of the baby to dislike animals. Another theorist for behaviorism is B.F. Skinner who researched operant conditioning, which focuses on controlling voluntary responses by reinforcing positive behavior and punishing negative behavior. He discusses positive reinforcement, in which behavior increases when a pleasant stimulus is presented, and negative reinforcement, in which behavior increases when an unpleasant stimulus is removed. He also discusses punishment I, in which the behavior decreases when unpleasant stimulus is presented, and punishment II, in which the behavior decreases when pleasant stimulus is removed. Below is a youtube video that describes the differences between classical and operant conditioning and even describes Pavlov’s experiments.

Julian Rotter was a theorist who did research on the social learning theory. His theory is comprised of behavior potential, which is the potential for a certain response to be achieved through reinforcement, expectancy, which refers to an individuals expectancy of his or her own abilities based on past experience, reinforcement value, which is the value that individuals hold certain activities and outcomes, and psychological situation, which is the way that people interpret things that are happening around them. The psychologist Albert Bandura focuses on the idea that children imitate those around them and do things based on what they observe. He discusses vicarious learning in which an individual learns by witnessing someone around them be punished for a certain action. He also researches self-efficacy, which refers to the goals individuals set for themselves based on their personal expectations.

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