Psychology - Unit 8 Health and Social Care P1 M1

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Selena Ahmed

Unit 8



The behaviourist perspective is that we can understand any type of behaviour by looking at what a person has learned. This will include personality traits such as; confidence, shyness, optimism or pessimism as well as other fleeting behaviours. Behaviourist psychologists can explain all human behaviour as resulting from experience. They are two associated thinkers with the behaviourist perspective and they are Pavlov (classical conditioning) and Skinner (operant conditioning). Both the theorists explained all the types of behaviour as being a result of learning everything i.e. from shyness to aggression, from happiness to depression.

Classical conditioning is a theory that was developed by a Russian physiologist called Ivan Pavlov (1849 – 1936). Pavlov worked with dogs in order to investigate their digestive systems, the dogs were attached to a harness and Pavlov attached monitors to their stomachs and mouths in order for him to measure the production of saliva. Pavlov one day had noticed the dog began to produce saliva when the laboratory assistant had entered the room with a bowl of food before the dog had actually tasted the food. As salivation is an automatic response it seemed quite strange, Pavlov gathered that the dog was producing saliva because it had learned to associate the laboratory assistant with food. Food automatically led to the response of salivation due to salivation being an automatic response which was referred as ‘unconditional response’. Unconditioned meant ‘not learned’, as food automatically led to this response which he referred as ‘unconditional stimulus’. Pavlov then displayed food at the exact same time as ringing a bell to see if the dog would learn to associate the bell with food. After several attempts the dog learned that the bell was linked with the food which it then began to salivate, when only the bell was rung and no food was presented. It had learned the conditioned response, a new learned response of the salivation to the conditioned stimulus of the bell.

Operant conditioning is a theory that was developed by Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904 -1990). Skinner was an American psychologist who worked mostly with rats and pigeons, to discover the key principles of learning new behaviour strategies. Skinner used a very famous device which was called the Skinner box, the box contained a lever which, when pressed, releases a food pellet into the box which then reinforced lever pressing behaviour. When the rat is first placed in the box it will eventually run around, and sniff the items in the box that are placed there however at some point the rat will press the lever which will then release a food pellet. After a little while when the rat has performed this action repeatedly it will learn that this behaviour (pressing the lever) is automatically followed by the release of a food pellet. As the pellet is experienced as reinforcing the sequence increases the probability of the behaviour being repeated; they are two types of reinforcement which are positive and negative. Skinner investigated negative reinforcement by running a very low electric current on the floor of the Skinner box, however the current could be deactivated if the rat pressed the lever.

A punishment may occur when behaviour if followed by a consequence that is experienced as unpleasant. Skinner researched this by giving the rat a mini electric shock when it pressed the lever. The consequence of lever pressing (electric shock) was experienced as unpleasant, therefore the rat had learned to stop pressing the lever.


Social Learning Theory:

Social learning theory is a perspective that states that people learn within a social context.  Social learning theory is a perspective that stats that social behaviour of any sort that we display socially is learned primarily by observing and imitating the actions of others.

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The effects of groups on behaviour: Humans behaviour is dramatically influenced by the presence of others around us, however much we may believe ourselves to be truly individual in our behaviour. It was clearly demonstrated in the experiments in the 1950’s by social psychologist called Solomon Asch. He was highly interested in a concept called majority influence which is a type of influence exerted by groups that is associated with the individuals desire to be accepted. This is when the presence of others causes us to change our public behaviour or personal opinions as we do not want to stand ...

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