I'm in Year 12 and i have mocks coming up in january so I was doing some aqa exam questions. I haven't done many of these so I'm aware its probably not that good yet but could somebody read this and give me any feedback?
Discuss the contribution of behaviourist psychologists such as Pavlov and Skinner to our understanding of human behaviour (16 marks).
Behaviourist psychologists believe humans are born as a blank slate and all of our behaviour is learnt through experiences after birth. The two main ways which behaviour is learnt is through classical and operant conditioning which was theorised by psychologists Ivan Pavlov and B.F skinner.
Ivan Pavlov’s experiment , Pavlov’s dogs, used dogs to explain classical conditioning. Everytime a dog was given a bowl of food he began to salivate. A bell was rung everytime the dog was given food. Eventually, the dog began to associate the bell with food so the dog began to salivate every time he heard the bell even without the bowl of food. The neutral stimulus - the bell- has brought about a new learned response -salivating- a conditioned response through association.
B.F Skinner believed classical conditioning was too vague and simplistic to fully understand human behaviour and it would be better to study the causes and consequences of behaviour. In operant conditioning , behaviour is shaped through reinforcement and punishment. There are two types of reinforcement, negative and positive. Positive reinforcement is when good behaviour is rewarded. Negative reinforcement is when behaviour is followed by removing a consequence. Behaviour which is negatively or positively reinforced is more likely to continue. Behaviour which is punished is less likely to continue.
Behaviourism has high scientific credibility. It is objective and focuses on only measuring things which are observable rather than focusing on unseen mental processes such as the humanistic approach so it can be replicated. This has helped the development of psychology as a science.
The behaviourist approach often uses animals in their experiments such as Pavlov’s dogs experiment and Skinner’s experiment using rats and pigeons. However, the findings from experiments using animals may not be applicable to humans as humans and animals are different and some argue that humans are more complicated than animals. Whilst these experiments may reveal a lot about the behaviour of rats, it may not be as useful in understanding the behaviour of humans. It is also unethical as the animals can not decide whether or not they are in the experiment and they are not always protected from harm.
Behaviourism has lots of application in modern psychology. Operant conditioning has been used through things such as the ‘Token Economy’ where positive reinforcement is used as people are given a token or reward when they behave well. This can be used in many places such as prisons, psychiatrists and is often used in schools to teach children what appropriate behaviour they should use. Classical conditioning has been used to understand phobias. The Baby Albert experiment showed how Albert was conditioned to have a fear of mice and proved that phobias are mostly developed through previous distressing experiences.