Behaviorism and Neo Behaviorism Approaches Essay

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Neo-behaviorism and Classical S-R Behaviorism

Behaviorism is regarded as an approach in the field of psychology that emphasizes the significant role of environmental factors in shaping people’s behavior. This approach of psychology emphasizes that environmental factors influence behavior more than intrinsic or genetic factors. Based on this school of thought, all behaviors are influenced by interactions with the environment and therefore focuses on stimulus-response behaviors. The behaviorist movement has attracted several varying perspectives among different psychologists including John Watson’s classical S-R behaviorism. Classical S-R behaviorism is an approach that postulates that all psychological functions can be explained through observable, overt, and measurable muscular movements, nerve impulses, and glandular secretions (Moore, 2011).

However, classical S-R behaviorism has attracted considerable criticism from various psychologists on the premise that it’s insufficient to account for the wide range of human behavior. One of the major criticisms of classical S-R behaviorism is from Edward C. Tolman and Clark Hull. Tolman contended that classical S-R behaviorism does not account for purposive behavior given that most animal and human behavior is deliberately targeted towards a specific goal or end state. While he did not refute the independence of conscious behavior and mentality, Tolman argued that it was essential to incorporate mental determinants of purposive human behavior in the concept of behaviorism.

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On the other hand, Hull introduced the concept of operationalism, which suggests that habits exist independently of the specific behavioral expression in stimulus conditions.

Based on Hull and Tolman’s work, neo-behaviorism was the best response to classical S-R behaviorism since they focus on consideration of the whole picture when addressing the issue of human behavior. Neo-behaviorism is the best response to classical S-R behaviorism since is emphasizes that the study of learning and focus on objective methods of observation are crucial to scientific psychology. In this regard, purpose and cognition are critical to behavior and should be interpreted as observable characteristics of behavior rather than mentalistic components. Moreover, human behavior also incorporates habit-formation since people have a tendency to respond to a particular positive stimulus in a certain way.

Skinners’ Radical Behaviorism and Watson’s Classical Behaviorism

One of the psychologists who played a crucial role in the development of the psychological approach to behaviorism is B.F. Skinner. Skinner was one of the most important neo-behaviorists who not only refuted Hull’s efforts to develop formal theory and returned to John Watson’s….....

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Moore, J. (2011, July). Behaviorism. The Psychological Record, 61(3), 449-463.

Weidman, N. (n.d.). Behaviorism – Neobehaviorism (1930-1955). Retrieved December 6, 2017, from

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