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Behaviorism essay

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Behaviorism is the philosophical position that says that Psychology, to be a science, must focus its attention on what is observable - environment and behavior, rather than what is available to the individuals - thoughts, feelings and so on. Behaviorism is based on learning - the change of behavior, which happens as a result of experience. First Ivan Pavlov, a Russian psychologist, came up with theory of learning. Pavlov experiment was based on observable. His dogs were connected to machine which collected salivate. When he gave them food their salivated production increased. Moreover, he noticed that as soon as he opened the door, the dogs started salivate just because of the sound of open door. Dogs learned to response - open door - food coming --salivate in process. Pavlov called that Classical Conditioning. ...read more.


As he began to touch a rat, the noise was made behind his head. After a few repetitions Albert began to cry just on the view of white rat. That was emotional response and quickly generalized from rat to other white objects - rabbit or Santa Clause mask. This is called stimulus generalization and demonstrate that human emotional response could be manipulated using the classical conditioning. Other psychologist EL Thorndike did research and extended classical learning theory to include instrumental learning. His experiment included a hungry cat which was on box and fish outside the box. The cat scratched and meowed trying to escape and accidentally pushed the latch, escaping and grapping the fish. Second time it took less time to escape and repeatedly the cat had learned to get out immediately. ...read more.


Skinners experiment was a rat in a cage and a bar, which if the rat pushed it, would receive food. What he demonstrated was that the bar pressing resulted in reinforced the rat with food, which increased the pressing- positive reinforcement. The principles of learning theory do provide explanations of observed behavior in specific situations. However, human beings have rich mental life which is ignored in the behavioral approach. All people are capable of thinking and feeling and these mental processes are ignored in it. Nova days, learning theory is applied in society as it is used from psychologists to cure mental illnesses and alcoholism. The image of a drink is paired with image of being sick or other negative images, which increase the number of people stop drinking. As a conclusion, according to Pavlov, Watson and Skinner, the Behavioral Approach is based on the learning theory, excluding feelings and thoughts. People behave on some way as a learned response that has previously been reinforced from stimulus. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This is a reasonable good essay on the founding and assumptions of the behaviourist perspective to psychology. The candidate goes to good levels of depth with regard to theories of learning such as operant and classical conditioning. However some information ...

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Response to the question

This is a reasonable good essay on the founding and assumptions of the behaviourist perspective to psychology. The candidate goes to good levels of depth with regard to theories of learning such as operant and classical conditioning. However some information is slightly skewed and not entirely accurate. In classical conditioning it is a neutral stimulus paired with an unconditioned response that produces and conditioned stimulus and and conditioned response, as is correctly identified, but the neutral stimulus in Pavlov's experiment is the sound of the bell, not the opening of the dog pound door.

The rest of the essay is similarly flawed, in that the majority is accurate but minor discrepancies creep through which will eventually accumulate to have a significant effect on the potential mark. I greatly recommend checking over facts and ensuring that your writing does not appear ambiguous (the description of the processes of operant and classical conditioning are not very clearly augmented and may confuse those not familiar with the processes) to ensure maximum clarity in written expression.

Level of analysis

The Level of Analysis (AO2; critical evaluation) is not measured here. AO1 (knowledge and understanding) is, and so that will be marked instead.

The candidates knowledge of behaviourism covers everything it needs to in order to satisfy the question, although it can be said that perhaps a bit more clarity would help give the examiner a better indication of how confidently the candidate can talk about it. It's one thing to write about certain things, and another to write about them confidently and with flair. This candidate often appears to be regurgitating knowledge remembered from regimented lessons and so whilst they cannot achieve the A* grade, a low A is more plausible for their efforts here. Examiners want to see personal touches and a confident candidate who can stray away from exam-board/text-book wording of certain things - understanding psychology in your own right is what pulls you up to the A*.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication here is fair. The candidate makes a good use of English though sometimes their grammatical precision and accuracy slips up and the fluidity of the discourse is disrupted. I would strongly recommend re-reading every paragraph written so as to iron out these writing discrepancies because without them, the essay would be undoubtedly clearer.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 30/08/2012

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