Behaviourists Explain Maladaptive Behaviour in Terms of the Learning Principles That Sustain and Maintain It. Discuss This Statement and Show How a Behaviourists Approach Is in Stark Contrast to a Psychoanalytic One.

2204 Words Jan 27th, 2013 9 Pages
“Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it. Discuss this statement and show how a behaviourists approach to therapy is in stark contrast to a psychoanalytic one”.
Behaviourism is a school of thought in psychology based on the assumption that learning occurs through interactions with the environment. Two other assumptions of this theory are that the environment shapes behaviour and that taking internal mental states such as thoughts, feelings and emotions into consideration is useless in explaining behaviour. Behaviourists are unique among psychologists in believing that it is unnecessary to speculate about internal mental processes.
The behaviourist theory believes that
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In situations that reflect positive reinforcement, a response or behaviour is strengthened by the addition of something, such as praise or a direct reward.
Negative reinforcement – involve the removal of an unfavourable event or outcome after the display of behaviour. In these situations, a response is strengthened by the removal of something considered unpleasant.
In both of these cases of reinforcement, the behaviour increases.
Positive punishment – involves the presentation of an unfavourable event or outcome in order to weaken the response it follows.
Negative punishment – occurs when a favourable event or outcome is removed after behaviour occurs.
In both of these cases of punishment, the behaviour decreases.
We can find examples of operant conditioning all around us; the children who complete their homework to earn a reward from a teacher or parent, the employee finishing a project promptly to receive praise or a promotion, or the child who is told that they will lose their play time at school if they misbehave in class.
There are many and varied criticisms of behaviourism but the general idea is that behaviourism simply fails to adequately account for, or even address, many aspects of mental life that most people feel are obvious and important – language, emotion, cognition are just a few of the areas that behaviourism was not able to explain to the satisfaction of those who rejected it in favour of

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