Behavioristic Man

Essay by greenisinHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2004

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In this article, Watson is explained as being the father of behaviorism and explores his ideas and theories important to behaviorism. One such idea is his theory of classical and operant conditioning. Behaviorists commonly make a distinction between respondent and operant behavior. Respondent responses include relatively simple reflexes and emotional responses, which are elicited by appropriate stimuli even prior to learning. Through conditioning, such responses may come to be elicited by a wide range of other stimuli, such as Pavlov's experiments. The conditioning of respondent behavior is often referred to as classical conditioning. Operant responses are used because in such responses the individual "operates" upon or modifies the environment. Instead of presenting a stimulus that elicits a known response, the psychologist places an animal in a situation in which it learns to make a response that brings about the attainment of a goal or the satisfaction of a need.

Reinforcement is crucial to both respondent and operant conditioning. It refers to the strengthening of the new response by the presentation of an appropriate stimulus. In respondent conditioning the eliciting stimulus may be pleasant, as in the case of food, or unpleasant, as in the case of the loud noise.

Discrimination occurs when the individual learns to distinguish between similar stimuli and respond to one but not another as a consequence of differential reinforcement. In the behavioristic model, complex processes such as perceiving, forming concepts, solving problems, and making decisions are based on an elaboration of the basic discrimination operation.

The last paragraph is ironic in that it goes against the theories of Freud dealing with the ego. The behaviorists claim that all behavior stems from how they were previously conditioned and that the environment has the biggest impact upon behavior. The behavioristic model makes allowance for man to behave...