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Title: The%20Psychology%20of%20the%20Person%20Chapter%2013%20Behavioral-Social%20Learning%20Approach

The Psychology of the PersonChapter 13
Behavioral-Social Learning Approach
  • Naomi Wagner, Ph.D
  • Lecture Outlines
  • Based on Burger, 8th edition

The Beginning of Behaviorism
  • John B. Watson (1878-1958) was a member of the
    faculty at John Hopkins University.
  • He started his academic work in philosophy, but
    then switched to psychology, and
  • In 1913 published his milestone paper
    Psychology as the Behaviorist Views it

Watsons Main Idea in His 1913 paper
  • Watson argued that if psychology were to become
    a science, psychologists must stop their
    engagement in such topics as mental processes and
    states of consciousness, which were the main
    topics of the earlier schools, such as
    structuralism and Functionalism
  • Only observable behaviors can be the subject
    matter of science. Emotions, thoughts, etc, were
    of interest to behaviorists only if they could be
    defined in terms of observable behaviors

Watsons main Ideas (cont-d)
  • Thinking , according to Watson, was simply a
    variant of verbal behavior, a sub-vocal speech,
    as evident by small vocal-cords movements he
    claimed accompanied thoughts.
  • Watson claimed that observed behavior can be
    predicted, and eventually controlled by

Watson was Influenced by Ivan Pavlov
  • At that time Watson was influenced by Pavlov and
    his demonstration of classical conditioning, and
    proposed a model of learning based on Stimulus-
    Response relationship, that would imply that
    given the response, the stimulus can be
    predicted given the stimuli, the response can be

Pavlovs Work and the Principles of classical
  • Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) was a physiologist who
    studied the digestive system and experimented on
  • He performed surgery in the cheek of the dog and
    inserted there a little glass vial that served to
    collect the saliva of the dog. He noticed one
    day that the dog started to salivate before the
    food was introduced, as a response to the
    footsteps of the experimenter. This observation
    brought Pavlov to try all types of stimuli
    (Conditioned stimuli) that were paired with the
    food (the unconditioned stimulus).

Examples of Classical Conditioning
  • Pavlov presents the food (Unconditioned stimulus)
    to the dog ( UCS)
  • The dog salivates (unconditioned response) to the
    sight of the food (UCR)
  • The bell, a neutral stimulus (conditioned
    stimulus) is paired with the food (CS)
  • After a couple of presentations, the dog
    salivates to the bell (conditioned response) CR

Classical Conditioning Con-d
  • The neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned
    stimulus, and the response it elicits is called
    conditioned response.

The Original Pavlov Experiment
  • A class-vial is inserted on the dogs cheek to
    collect saliva elicited by food
  • Picture shows Pavlov in his lab with 5 people
    around him and a dog placed in a harness

Basic Model of classical conditoning
The Law of Effect (Thorndike)
  • Thorndike at that time identified the principles
    of operant conditioningbehaviors that are
    rewarded tend to be repeated, and those behaviors
    that are punished or ignored decrease in

Modification of Behavior via Learning Principles
  • The list of topics using learning principles
    includes attitude change, language acquisition,
    overcoming phobias and more
  • Behavioral accounts of personality had gone
    through transitions over the years
  • From observable behaviors to non-observable
    concepts, such as thoughts
  • The line between behavioral and cognitive
    approaches is blurred

Watsons Conclusions
  • The work of Pavlov convinced Watson that these
    leaning principles would suffice to explain
    almost any human behavior.
  • Personality, he said was the end product of our
    habit system. That is, over the course of our
    lives we are conditioned to respond to certain
    stimuli in more or less predictable ways, which
    explains the consistency observed in personality

Control over the environment
  • Watson is famous (or infamous) that given enough
    control over the environment, he can take any
    baby, and regardless of the child innate
    abilities and features, he can mold the child
    into becoming anything or anyone that he, Watson,
  • (see next slide)

Watsons Infamous Statement
  • He made his infamous statement Give me a dozen
    healthy infants, well formed, and my own
    specified world to bring them up in, and I will
    guarantee to take any one at random, and train
    him to become any type of specialist I might
    select doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief,
    and yes, even a beggerman and a thief (1924).

Little Albert
  • Watson was interested in the conditioning of
    emotional responses, and his experiment with
    Little Albert is well-known.
  • He devised a procedure to classically-condition
    in Albert fear of the little rabbit (most of you
    remember this event).

Little Albert (cont-d)
  • Watsons perspective is deterministic
  • people can be conditioned to react (emotionally
    or behaviorally) to stimuli without their
  • In this sense, referring to the old
    philosophical question whether we have control
    over out life, he seems to advocate the position
    that we do not have FREE WIILL.

Watsons View of Human Nature
  • Watsons view of human behavior can be described
    as being reductionist- - in the sense that
    complex behavioral patterns could be reduced to
    simple Stimulus-response connections, that were
    formed on the basis of classical (Pavlovian)
    conditioning which is learning by association

Watsons Legacy
  • Watsons main legacy is seen in the shift from
    subjective introspection into a system of
    explanation that advocated the operational
    definition of variables- that is- any variable
    studied needs to be defined in terms of specific
    operations that can be used to measure it and to
    quantify it. In addition, his idea that learning
    is the core of psychology has become quite

  • German scientists working at the Universities of
    Leipzig and of Heidelberg became interested in
    the connection between events or stimuli in the
    physical world, and their perception in the mind.
  • They were the first to use laboratory
    experiments, and indeed the first lab in
    experimental psychology was established by Wundt
    in 1879 at the University of Leipzig (Germany).

History (cont-d)
  • The field of psychophysics was engaged in
    understanding how the physical properties of
    stimuli in the external world (e.g. the intensity
    of light, or the pitch of a sound) are related to
    our sensory experience
  • This field was seeking for laws that would
    describe the relationship between the objective
    physical world and the subjective inner
    experience of the human mind.

Wundt and the School of Voluntarism
  • Wundts school of thought has come to be known as
  • He was interested in describing the immediate
    conscious experience of a person, using
    systematic introspection.
  • Wundt described consciousness as composed of
    sensations, affect (feelings), and ideas (the
    thinking mind).

Skinner and Radical Behaviorism
  • Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904-1990) published in
    1938 his view of learning. He maintained that the
    Pavlovian classical conditioning paradigm could
    not explain all behavior
  • Skinner suggested that type R conditioning,
    operant conditioning, is better able to explain

Skinner cont-d)
  • Skinner in the 1930s introduced radical
    behaviorism, stating that all behavior can be
    explained on the basis of operant conditioning
  • He did not deny the existence of inner causes of
    our behavior, but challenged the extent we can
    observe them.
  • Very much like Freud, he said that people often
    are not aware of the causes of their behaviors.
    They are manipulated by operant conditioning of
    which they are not always cognizant.

Operant Conditioning
  • The basis for operant conditioning is a behavior
    emitted by the organism, sometimes at random
  • The consequences of that behavior determine
    whether it will be repeated in the future (under
    similar conditions)
  • A consequence that increases the frequency of
    behavior is called a reinforcement, one that
    decreases the likelihood of the behavior is
    called a punishment.

Changing behaviors via rewards and punishment
Positive ReinforcementRewarding behavior
increases its frequencyPicture shows a rat
holding a sign Will Press Lever for Food
  • Introducing unpleasant stimulus (punishment)
    decreases the behavior
  • Picture shows a little girl sitting on a chair
    folding her hands on her chest, and a man
    pointing his finger at her

Negative Reinforcement The elimination of
unpleasant stimulus rewards the behavior
  • She nags him (unpleasant) until he cleans the
    dishes and then she stops.
  • Picture shows a man sitting at a table eating and
    a woman standing behind him waving a towel at

Operant Conditioning (cont-d)
  • The other side of operant conditioning is the
    reduction of unwanted behavior
  • The most efficient method is to cease
    reinforcement and thereby allow the behavior to
  • Though it seems quite simple, we seldom can
    abide by this idea- especially when we give
    attention to undesirable behaviors.

  • Negative Reinforcement When behavior is
    reinforced by the elimination of a negative
    stimulus. For example, you are in the mall and
    your child nags and screams, wanting a toy
  • You buy the toy, the child stops screaming
  • Your behavior was negatively reinforced

Effects of Punishment
  • Though punishment worked quite well with animals
    in the lab, studies show that the effectiveness
    of punishment is limited for several reasons.
  • First, punishment does not teach the desired
  • Second, to be effective punishment must be
    delivered immediately and consistently
  • In addition, through a process of classical
    conditioning, negative feelings that accompany
    the punishment may be associated with the person
    (often the parent) delivering the punishment.
  • Whats more, punishment teaches the child to
    behave aggressively. The negative emotions
    associated with punishment may interfere with
    learning appropriate responses. At the mist,
    punishment can temporarily suppress behavior.

  • In many situation we want to use reinforcement
    to increase desirable behavior, but the behavior
    is not emitted by the subject
  • We use shaping, or the method of successive
  • We reward small increments toward the final
    (desirable) behavior

Skinner and Utopia
  • Skinners position was deterministic- he
    maintained that the perception of personal
    freedom in an illusion, and that our behavior is
    controlled by environmental factors, through
    processes of operant conditioning often
    unbeknownst to us. His position in regard to the
    ancient question was that there was no free will.

Current Status of Skinners Radical Behaviorism
  • Skinners form of behaviorism is considered today
    as radical and as inappropriate to explain the
    complexity of our behavior
  • It rejects the usefulness of examining our
    feelings and inner thoughts, and it ignores
    completely the role of heredity in human
    behavioral mechanisms
  • It has also been claimed that human beings are
    more complex that the laboratory animals used in
    behavioral research. We humans are capable to
    consider alternative courses of action, looking
    at long-term goals.

The Over-Justification Effect
  • An interesting finding that emerged in social
    psychology regarding reinforcement is, that when
    you pay (reinforce) people to do something that
    they anyhow enjoy doing, the reward decreases the
    frequency of the behavior. This is called the
    over-justification effect
  • Explanation We perceive our behavior as
    motivated by the reward, not by our inherent

Social-Learning Theory
  • Around the 1960s psychology transitioned toward
    social-learning theory
  • The main concept was that not only does the
    environment affect our behavior, but that our
    behavior determines the type of environment we
    find ourselves in.
  • Social-Learning theorists also claimed that
    people provide their own inner reinforcers, in
    the absence of external ones

Rotter s social learning theory
  • Rotter argued that the causes of human behavior
    are much more complicated than conditioning
  • Rotter introduced several unobservable concepts
    to account for human behavior and personality
  • In any situation we have different options for
  • The key to predicting what we will do in a given
    situation depends on the behavioral potential for
    each optionit is the likelihood of a given
    behavior occurring in a given situation.

Rotters Social-Learning (cont-d)
  • The strength of the behavior potential depends on
    expectancywhich is the probability that the
    behavioral option will result in a given
    reinforcer, and reinforcement valuethe degree to
    which we prefer one reinforcer over another. If
    you do not like candy, offering you candy after
    you have done something that is desirable will
    NOT affect you.

Rotter (cont-d) Expectancies- What are they?
  • Rotter introduced the term expectancy to
    suggest that we decide to behave in a given
    manner if we expect our behavior to bring the
    desired result and if we value the result- if it
    is important to us.
  • For example Whether we decide to study all night
    long before a test depends on our expectancy
    (belief) that such behavior will give us good

Behavioral Potential depends on
  • The extent to which we expect our behavior to
    bring a reward
  • The extent to which we care about this reward

How do we form expectancies about the potential
result of our behavior?
  • The idea is that we are going to emit (display) a
    given behavior when we EXPECT is to bring us
  • We form expectancies usually on the basis of past
    experience of being rewarded
  • What about situations that we encounter for the
    first time?
  • We rely of generalized expectations
  • Rotter refers to those as Locus of Control

Generalized expectations and Locus of Control
  • These are beliefs we hold about how often our
    actions typically lead to rewards or punishments
  • Locus of Control is a concept introduced by
    Rotter, referring to the extent to which we
    believe that what happens to us is the result of
    our own actions or attributes (Internal LOC), or
    the results of forces outside of our control
    (External LOC)
  • LOC is found to be related to emotional
    well-being vs. depression

LOC beyond Rotter
  • Was found as important for emotional well-being
    and achievement motivation

Cognitive elements Social-Cognitive theory
  • Bandura (1970s) rejected the traditional
    behaviorist views of personality that presented
    humans as passive recipients of environmental
  • Bandura argued that there were both internal and
    external determinants of behavior, and introduced
    the concept of reciprocal determinism.

Bandura (cont-d)
  • Albert Bandura (1925-) illustrates the
    transition from traditional behavioral views to
    incorporate internal variables
  • For him, we are not passive recipients of
    rewards and punishment from the environment
  • Bandura argues that there are both external and
    internal determinants of behavior- and these two
    sets interact in a mode that he labeled as
    reciprocal determinism.

Banduras Reciprocal Determinism
  • That is, external factors and internal factors,
    such as beliefs, thoughts and expectations, are
    parts of a system of interacting influences.
  • Not only can the environment affect behavior, but
    our behavior affects the environment.
  • Bandura draws a distinction between potential
    environment, which is the same to everyone in a
    situation, and the actual environment, the one
    we create with our behavior.

Reciprocal Determinism
  • Constant movement back and forth

  • One of Banduras most important concepts is
  • The term refers to the extent to which one
    believes that he/she can bring about a certain
    therapeutic outcome
  • Whether people make an effort to cope with
    problems and how long they persist in their
    efforts to change are determined by whether they
    believe that that are capable to achieve the
    change, that is, their perception of self-efficacy

  • Seems simple, right?
  • Picture shows a toddler making a face and
    raising his fist

  • Bandura also argues that most behavior is
    performed in the absence of external
    reinforcement and punishment.
  • Most of our daily actions are controlled by
  • We often work toward self-imposed goals with
    inner rewards. The rewards come from feelings of
    accomplishment and self-wroth, that Bandura
    labeled- self-efficacy.

Observational Learning
  • Bandura argued that learning is not limited to
    classical or operant conditioning.
  • We can also learn by observing other people, or
    by reading about other peoples actions.
  • Many behaviors are too complex to be learned
    through the slow process of reinforcement and

Learning vs. Performance
  • Bandura draws an important distinction between
    learning and performance.
  • Behavior learned through observational methods
    needs not be performed.
  • The performance is dependent on the expectations
    of rewards or punishment.

Application Behavior ModificationOperant
  • Despite all the criticism, Skinners ideas have
    been successfully translated into therapeutic
    procedures labeled behavior modification
  • The focus is on changing few, well-defined and
    maladaptive behaviors and habits
  • The procedures were used quite effectively in
    the case of autistic children.
  • Lovaas in UCLA used techniques based on operant
    conditioning, especially shaping through
    successive approximations (rewarding small
    increments toward the final goal) to teach
    language and social skills to Autistic Children

ApplicationClassical Conditioning
  • Systematic desensitization is a technique used in
    treating phobias, where images or real-life
    encounters of the feared object or situations are
    gradually introduced, while the person is in a
    state of relaxation
  • In Aversion Training therapists try to rid
    clients of problem behaviors while by pairing
    aversive stimuli with the behavior

Assessment behavioral observations
  • Direct observation In order to change behavior
    (for example- to reduce a childs temper
    tantrum), we need first to assess the problematic
    behavior- how often it occurs, what are the
    conditions that precede it, what are the
    consequences of the behavior)- this stage is
    called baseline
  • Next- offer the treatment/intervention
  • Last- observe the behavior again, to assess any
    changes that can be seen as the result of the

Assessment Self-Monitoring
  • This technique asks the client in a
    behavior-modification program (for example, wants
    to quit smoking), to engage in self-monitoring,
    in order to obtain a base-line for the target
    behavior (quit smoking)
  • For example- how often one smokes, under what

Self-Monitoring (cont-d)
  • Weakness of this method In most cases clients
    have distorted ideas as to how often the behavior
    (e.g. smoking) occurs
  • Therefore, therapists ask clients to keep records
    as to how often the behavior occurs, under what
    situations, etc
  • Watching your own behavior can be therapeutic in
  • However, sometimes people cheat!

Observations by Others
  • Some clients are unwilling or unable to provide
    accurate information about themselves (e.g.
  • Parents and teachers can often record the
    frequency of a childs problem behavior
  • Children sometimes act differently in the
    presence of the therapist than at home
  • That is why it is good to use several observes in
    different settings

Current Status
  • Though the behavioral perspective is regarded as
    to simplified to explain the complexity of human
    behavior, strategies derived from this approach
    are quite effective in psychotherapy
  • Behavior modification interventions are based on
    behavioral principles, both classical and operant
  • Observational learning is also used in

  • Foundations in research- need to define the
    variables and to measure them, rather than use
    general terms such as self-actualization or
  • Behavioral principles are translated into
    therapeutic procedures (Behavior Modification)
    that use objective criteria when wanting to
    change behavior
  • Behavior modification procedures are suitable for
    children or severely delayed persons

  • Skinners form of behaviorism is considered today
    as radical and as inappropriate to explain the
    complexity of our behavior
  • It rejects the usefulness of examining our
    feelings and inner thoughts, and it ignores
    completely the role of heredity in human
    behavioral mechanisms
  • It has also been claimed that human beings are
    more complex that the laboratory animals used in
    behavioral research. We humans are capable to
    consider alternative courses of action, looking
    at long-term goals.
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