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Background and Description of Behaviorism in Relation to Learning

The background of behaviorism is associated with many scientists. Behaviorism started back in 400 BC with Aristotle. Aristotle believed in association and that "the objects being associated are similar, or opposite, or near each other". Then, behaviorism came into play with Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist. He studied the behavior of dogs and how they would salivating (conditioned reflex) when shown just the food dish without food (conditioned stimulus or conditioned response). Next, John B. Watson wrote a book called Behavior, where he described psychology as the process where behavior can be predicted and controlled. Watson also studied how learning can be achieved through a repeated stimulus and specific responses. Edward Thorndike described behaviorism as "a description of a man’s mind is that it is his connection system, adapting the responses of thought, feeling, and action that he makes to the situation that he meets". Thorndike also studied how the "law of effect" and "law of exercise" affects a person’s learning abilities. In other words, if an individual is positively reinforced, without punishment, and if a stimulus was followed by a response with repeated practice, stronger learning would take place. One of the main behaviorist that will be discussed is B.F. Skinner.

Skinner studied what individuals "do and don’t do" in relation to behavior. He also believed that the actions that people take are in response to whatever happened to them in their past. Skinner came up with the idea of "operant conditioning". In operant conditioning, the organism’s behavior (response) is controlled by the use of positive reinforcement (stimulus) (Behaviorism As a ...

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