What is a Behavioral Psychology?

Behavioral PsychologyBehavioral Psychology is a unique field of human behavioral modification. Behavioral psychology is an older branch of psychology that is based on the idea that people’s habits, actions, emotions and cognitive patterns can be adjusted through behavioral adjustments. Continue reading to learn how this fascinating branch of psychology is helping people today.

The History of Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology traces its roots back to the 20th century, when it begin in a movement called behaviorism, according to Stanford University. This school of psychology rejected the Freudian obsession with the subconscious and instead strove to scientifically observe and analyze human behavior from a purely subjective viewpoint. Russian physiologist is often attributed as the father of Behaviorism when he studied the effect of classical conditioning on hungry dogs. However, American psychologist John Watson perfected the concept of behaviorism when he succinctly explained that an individual’s behavior is the sum of their psychological makeup.

The Next Stage of Development

B.F. Skinner is considered to be the father of modern behavioral psychology. Skinner was an American professor of psychology at Harvard University. He famously believed that free will was an illusion that actually depended on the consequences of previous behaviors. Skinner upgraded Pavlov’s rudimentary theory of conditioning into the concept of operant conditioning. This well-established psychological theory states learning is primarily controlled through consequences. In relation to this, Skinner proposed that reinforcements can be either positive or negative. Skinner’s research and legacy helped to form the modern field of Behavioral Psychology, according to the BF Skinner Foundation.

The Principles of Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral Psychology defines itself as the scientific field of understanding and modifying observable behavior. It opposes the idea that behavior is primarily based on cognitive processes. That is, behavior is the result of responses to external stimuli. Because of this, habitual behavior is primarily determined by the social and physical environment.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Behavioral Psychology

The ultimate goal of behavioral psychology is to help people change negative or self-destructive behaviors and improve the quality of the lives. Behavioral therapies often integrate different psychological principles into treatment techniques. For example, Albert Bandura is one of the most famous psychologists alive today. He contributed to behavioral psychology through providing critical researched that showed the complex connections between cognition, learning and behavior. Overall, behavioral therapists generally use an integrated approach to helping clients.

The Educational Benefits of Behavioral Psychology

The principles of behavioral psychology are central to the education system and often used in classrooms. For example, reinforcement is a key motivator for teachers to help students behave, learn and read their academic goals. Teachers can monitor behaviors and any student that misbehaves will lose points and thus fail to receive a desired reward. On the other hand, classrooms that reach recycling or test score goals can be rewarded with a party. Higher education also depends on the principles of behavioral psychology. For example, college professors use classroom participation and attendance as a major grading factor.

Final Review

Behavioral psychology has a solid scientific base that relies on clinical experiments and accurate objective measurements. There are many real world applications, such as therapy and learning. However, behavioral psychology downplays the documented role that biology and cognitive processes play in human behavior. In addition to this, it also takes a strong reductionist and deterministic approach to human life.

Related Resource: Forensic Psychology

To sum up, behavioral psychology may have a long history, but it still has real world applications. It is very useful in the fields of therapy and education. Behavioral psychology has proven concepts that help people overcome problems through corrective behavioral adjustments.