December 17, 2012
Behavioral psychology, also known as behaviorism, is a perspective that became dominant during the early half of the 20th century thanks to prominent thinkers such as B.F. Skinner, and John B. Watson. The basis of behavioral psychology suggests that all behaviors are learned. Conditioning is the process of learning to react to the environment. Many theorists contributed to the theories of classical and operant conditioning, some theorists being Skinner, Watson, and Tolman. Each theorist contributed their own theories proven to impact a part of psychology. Many behaviors have been previously conditioned in the human species by the environment.
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He wanted to prove that these three reactions could be artificially conditioned in children. Watson used baby Albert to test his theory. He repeatedly presented Albert with a rat in conjunction with a sudden, loud noise to classically condition fear of the rat (Goodwin, 2008). In 1920, he published his most famous conditioning experiment; the "Little Albert" study in which he produced, in a small child, conditioned fear of a white rat by repeatedly presenting it paired with the loud "clanging" of a metal bar. A leading expert on child-rearing in his time, Watson called for minimal physical contact between parents and children, including no hugging and no lap-sitting. In wildly unethical "Little Albert" experiments circa 1920, Watson used loud noises to condition an infant child to fear rats. This conditioned fear was then shown to generalize to other white furry objects (Watson, 1920). While some believe the experiment with baby Albert to be unethical and harmful, Watson proved his theory that an individual can be trained to produce fears, love, phobias, and rage.
Skinner believed that we do have such a thing as a mind, but that it is simply more productive to study observable behavior rather than internal mental events. He believed the best way to understand behavior was to look at the causes of an action and its consequences. He called this approach operant