Essay on Chrysalis module four behaviourism stud

3030 Words Jan 2nd, 2015 13 Pages
‘Behaviourists explain maladaptive behaviour in terms of the learning principles that sustain and maintain it. Discuss this statement and show how a behaviourist’s approach to therapy is in stark contrast to a psychoanalytic one’
In this essay I will first of all explain the main principles and theories that underpin the behaviourist approach to psychology. I will subsequently outline how behaviourist theory can provide therapists with some insight into both the causes of maladaptive behaviour and how that behaviour might be sustained and maintained. Having discussed the main behaviourist principles and how they relate to maladaptive behaviour, I will then compare and contrast the behavioural approach with the psychoanalytic (Freudian)
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The work of Edward Thorndike and B.F. Skinner made a huge contribution to behaviourist psychology. Thorndike pioneered the study of animal behaviour with his ‘puzzle box’ into which he placed a hungry cat. Food was placed outside the box and he found that the cat learned to manipulate the door catch to get out of the box to obtain the food. Unlike Pavlov’s dogs, the cat in his study had some element of control given that being able to get the food was conditional on the cat opening the door. The consequences of the cat’s behaviour (getting the food), Thorndike argued, altered the cat because it learned to open the door. As the cat was ‘instrumental in opening the door he called this instrumental conditioning.
Skinner, who was influenced by Thorndike’s work, argued that learning through reinforcement is common to all species not just animals. Much of his work involved studying the behaviour of rats and pigeons. He conducted several experiments using a special device he designed called the ‘Skinner box’. This provided a controlled environment in which animal behaviour could be observed in a systematic way. His experiments were designed to shed light on how behaviour is initiated, maintained and how under certain conditions it can be changed as a result of consequences of the behaviour. He argued that behaviour takes a particular form because it has consequences that both give rise to it and maintain it. When the

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