Behaviorism – what is it, what is it about?

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Louise Barnett
Louise Barnett
I'm Louise Barnett, the editor at, where my days are filled with the exploration of myriad subjects that pique my curiosity and feed my ever-growing appetite for knowledge. From the latest in laser cutting technology to the timeless wisdom of yoga and meditation, my work allows me to dive deep into topics that not only fascinate me but also have the potential to improve our daily lives. I have a particular interest in how ancient practices meet modern life, leading me to explore everything from Ayurveda to minimalism and beyond. My journey has taught me the importance of balance—between innovation and tradition, action and reflection, and between the digital and the natural world. Each article I publish is a step towards understanding this balance better, hoping to inspire others along the way.

Behaviorism is a very important topic in psychology, which we will discuss in detail today. Find out what behaviorism is, its types, leading ideas and who is considered a representative of behaviorism.

What is behaviorism? Definition of the term

Behaviorism is the main direction in psychology, which deals with the study of behavior. Its main representatives are John B. Watson and Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Behaviorists believe that behavior can be explained by its effects, not by internal mental states. Behaviorism emphasizes the study of observable and measurable behavior, rather than internal mental states. According to behaviorism, behavior is the result of being shaped (learned) by reward or punishment. The consequences of behavior (reward or punishment) affect whether the behavior will be repeated.

According to behaviorism, human behavior is shaped by the environment in which it develops. The experiences a person has during childhood have a major impact on his later behavior. Behaviorists believe that all behavior can be learned. Therefore, their methods are often used in education and training. Behaviorism is a very important direction in psychology because it helps us better understand behavior.

Types of behaviorism

The first and most well-known type of behaviorism is classical behaviorism, which assumes that all human behavior is learned by the consequences of performing it. If the behavior brings the desired results, a person will repeat it, if not – he will modify or abandon it.

Another type of behaviorism is learned helplessness behaviorism. It is based on the fact that a person learns that some situations are hopeless and there is no point in changing them. An example of this kind of behavior might be learning that there is no point in trying hard in school because you won’t achieve good grades anyway.

The last type of behaviorism we will discuss is cognitive behaviorism. It is based on the fact that people learn through experience and observation. An example of such behaviorism would be learning that one must not lie, as this leads to consequences that are unpleasant.

The main representatives of behaviorism

Behaviorism is one of the most popular psychological theories. Virtually every psychologist and psychotherapist is a behaviorist. Three main representatives of this direction are mentioned: John B. Watson, Burrhus F. Skinn and Pavlov.

John B. Watson was born in 1878 in the United States. In 1901, he graduated from Johns Hopkins University. That same year, he began working at that university, and later worked at the Yerkes Institute for Monkeys and Rats. In 1913, Watson published his book “Psychology as a Science of Behavior.” In the book, Watson argued that the science should focus only on observable behavior and not on people’s internal experiences.

Burrhus Frederic Skinner was born in 1904 in the United States. He graduated from Harvard University in 1926. In the same year, he began working at this university and later at the Radcliffe Institute. In 1938 Skinner published his book “The Effects of Environmental Stimulation on Behavior.” In the book, Skinner stated that human behavior is the result of the influence of the environment on it.

Ivan Pavlov was born in 1849 in Russia. He graduated from St. Petersburg University in 1875. In the same year, he began working at this university and then at the Botanical Institute. In 1883 Pavlov published his book “On the behavior of stomachs in small animals.” In the book, Pavlov stated that animal behavior is the result of responses to environmental stimuli.

Leading ideas of behaviorism

Behaviorism is one of the most popular and important theories in psychology. Virtually all behaviorist psychologists use behaviorism in their research and practice. Behaviorism is mainly interested in a person’s behavior rather than his internal states, such as thoughts or feelings. Behaviorist psychologists believe that human behavior is taught by the consequences that precede it. If a behavior is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated. Conversely, if it is punished, it is less likely to be repeated.

Behaviorists believe that any human behavior can be trained, as well as eliminated, using appropriate teaching methods. This is why behaviorism is often used in behavioral therapy, which helps people deal with various behavioral problems.

Behaviorism is one of the most important and popular theories in psychology because it is effective and practical. Thanks to behaviorism, we can better understand human behavior and also change it effectively.

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