1: Introduction to Learning Theory and Behavioral Psychology
2: Classical and Operant Conditioning
3: Reinforcement and Reinforcement Schedules
Introduction to Learning
Theory and Behavioral Psychology
Learning can be defined as the process
leading to relatively permanent behavioral change or potential behavioral
change. In other words, as we learn, we alter the way we perceive our
environment, the way we interpret the incoming stimuli, and therefore the
way we interact, or behave. John B. Watson (1878-1958) was the first to
study how the process of learning affects our behavior, and he formed the
school of thought known as Behaviorism. The central idea behind
behaviorism is that only observable behaviors are worthy of research since
other abstraction such as a person’s mood or thoughts are too subjective.
This belief was dominant in psychological research in the United Stated for
a good 50 years.
Perhaps the most well known Behaviorist is B.
F. Skinner (1904-1990). Skinner followed much of Watson’s research and
findings, but believed that internal states could influence behavior just as
external stimuli. He is considered to be a Radical Behaviorist because
of this belief, although nowadays it is believed that both internal and
external stimuli influence our behavior.
Behavioral Psychology is basically interested
in how our behavior results from the stimuli both in the environment and
within ourselves. They study, often in minute detail, the behaviors we
exhibit while controlling for as many other variables as possible. Often a
grueling process, but results have helped us learn a great deal about our
behaviors, the effect our environment has on us, how we learn new behaviors,
and what motivates us to change or remain the same.