Skinner's Behaviorist Psychology and Its Criticisms essay

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Behaviorism is the proposal that human beings react unavoidably to stimuli, and individuals who have power over the stimuli have power over others. There is no free will or autonomy as usually imagined, only reactions to seeming gratifications and pains. The essential idea, consequently, is that if psychologists wish to cure irrational behaviors, they must ensure censure of unreasonable behavior, and the rational behavior encouraged. Over time, the unreasonable behavior will fade away, because it ultimately conditions the individual to comprehend that such behaviors culminate in pain. A criticism of Skinner’s theory is that in employing animals as replacements for humans in the investigation of human conduct, Skinner makes the general conjecture that wide-ranging laws concerning the behavior of animals can be used to illustrate the intricate associations in the human world. Additionally, although Skinner's thoughts on operant conditioning accurately explain irrational fears and psychosis, they are lacking in practicability in the more compound human behaviors of verbal communication and memory.

Ideas from Past Psychological Developments That Influence Contemporary Behaviorist Research

Behaviorism upholds an objective standpoint to ascertain that research results are applicable and reliable. One cannot determine what goes on within a person's mind. One can, nevertheless, calculate and establish patterns within that person's behavior in his or her surroundings. Traditional behaviorism, expressed as a straightforward stimulus - response association with exterior stimuli still has many functions. Cognitive psychology is as experiential as behaviorism but deals with much more appealing and rich observable facts. Cognitive psychology still utilizes behaviorist techniques, thus making it a significant theory even today.

Basic Assumptions That Underlie Behaviorism

Although previous behaviorists disagreed on concerns pertaining to this supposition, there are seven vital assumptions that inspired their thinking. The first of these assumptions states that human beings share general qualities as learners with all the other animal species such as cats and tapeworms. Behaviorists assemble all species as one under the class of organisms. Further, the behaviorists referred to this assumption as equipotentiality. The next assumption is that behaviorism is a motivation and response psychology (Holth, 2003). The considerable emphasis put on behavioral results also leaves no room for the exploration of the inner process. Yet another assumption holds that transformations in behavior usually transpire before behaviorists admit that learning has taken place. The fifth assumption is that all human beings are born devoid of any pre-existing abilities, awareness or intuition. This notion of a blank slate is inclusive of all living creatures. In line with the earlier postulation of a blank slate, behaviorists assert that human abilities, understanding and intuitions come because of ecological stimulus. Finally, behaviorists put forth that their conjectures are parsimonious; that is, of a succinct nature. Only few doctrines are necessary to clarify their theories.

Animal behaviorists explore animal behavior to increase the comprehension of human bodily processes as well as mental processes. Investigations of animal behavior, together with the latest research on the human brain, have improved what is known about how the central nervous system functions (Cautilli, Rosenwasser & Hantula, 2003). Animal research improves the appreciation of human illnesses and the process of aging. It has also added to what science identifies about human learning, brainpower, anxiety and what inspires behavior such as hostility and reproduction. There are four fundamental assumptions that behaviorism rests upon. These are:

(i)                  Behavior is legitimate.

(ii)                Behavior is the focus of interest.

(iii)               The objectives of behaviorism are prognosticating and control of human behavior.

(iv)              The reasons for behaviors can be discovered within the environment.

The Role Skinner Played In Shaping Behaviorist Psychology Reactions to His Form of Behaviorism

Skinner's behaviorism has become redundant, perhaps because it has spawned useful applications. Dominance of behaviorism as an important model in psychology, however, brought about a new principal model –  cognitive approaches. Humanistic psychology first appeared in the 1950s in response to both behaviorism and psychotherapy. By utilizing intersubjectivity, phenomenology and first-person groupings, the humanistic approach wanted to incorporate the entire person, not just the fragmented elements of human character or cognitive functioning (Malone, 2003).

How Animal Research Can Continue To Improve Our Understanding of Human Behavior

Universal consideration in assessing comparisons of human and animal behavior is that a practical foundation for the claimed similarity is instituted. Systematic investigation and convergent substantiation also may contribute to the tolerability of these comparisons. In the ultimate analysis, suppositions about the human qualities of animal actions are non-deductively acquired. They are frequently appraised based on their practical and heuristic value.

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