As you remember from day one in class, we are working with six psychological frameworks, though I am not sure that we are going to get through them all with our online restrictions but we keep trying.. I propose that we move to the Behavioral approach next. This approach has a long history, starting in Russia with the work of Ivan Pavlov and his “discovery” and development of classical conditioning method. Remember that “conditioning” is simply the technical word for “training or educating” in this approach. Please go on Youtube and watch a presentation on Pavlov and his dogs with classical conditioning. Remember classical conditioning is about the association between objects that is transferred to a neutral stimulus to produce the same result. For example, if you ring a bell every time you feed your dog his/her meal, eventually the dog will associate the bell with feeding. Later, John Watson recognized the power of this method to shape personality. While many people thought emotions were internal natural experiences, Watson tried to show that, in fact, even emotions could be created with this method of association. He took a year old boy called Little Albert (please look up on Youtube to see his experiment) who had no fears except loud sounds. He loved small furry animals, like mice, rabbits, dogs, and cats. Watson wanted to show that he could created fear in the little boy that was not there before through classical conditioning. He did this by presenting the boy with a small furry animal and then striking a loud metal tube. The boy cried at the sound. After Watson did this many times–furry animal+loud sound–Albert was conditioned to feel fear at the sight of a furry creature. After a scandal at Johns Hopkins where he worked, Watson left the university to earn millions in advertising. Can you see the connection between classical conditioning and advertising?
Watson was an American and the center of behavioral studies moved to the US. It perfectly expressed the American mindset that environment creates the individual. B.F.Skinner, working at Harvard University, used classical conditioning as a springboard for his development of a method called OPERANT CONDITIONING. In this method, the subject, is part of the process. It’s based on the idea that behavior has consequences. This is the crucial premise of this method.
In other words, behavior elicits a response. If that behavior is rewarded or reinforced, it will persist. If it is punished, it will stop. According to Skinner, there is positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. This simply means that something is added or given for positive reinforcement (I f you get an A on your quiz, I’ll give you a dollar). For negative reinforcement something is taken away (If you don’t get an A on your quiz, you can’t use your phone for a week.). Punishment also has positive (something added) and negative forms (something taken away.
Albert Bandura at Stanford University developed social observation as the next development of behaviorism. In other words, what you observe in your environment shapes your behavior. What you see is what you do. Look at Youtube for his experiments with the Bobo doll where he demonstrated that if kids see violence, they become violent.
Behaviorism is a powerful technique for shaping behavior. Your homework for this segment is to create a behavioral plan for a behavior that you would liuke to change, either your own behavior or that of someone else. Remember, we are working with reinforcement and punishment. So say your goal is to stop smoking. Decide what is going to be your method to stop. Cold turkey? Ok. Decide the starting date. Throw away your cigarettes and rid the house of ashtrays, etc. or any reminders of smoking. You are going to give yourself a reward for each unit of time you are successful–one day if this is a difficult task to do, one week if you can do it. You decide. Then pick a reward ypou will give yourself if you don’t smoke for that amount of time–it just cannot be a cigarette! What will you do if you fail? Choose a “punishment” (such as an extra run around the campus) and plan to start again. This is your behavioral plan.
Homework: Write up a behavioral plan for a particular behavior that you want to change in yourself. Specify all the parts that I described above (starting date, rewards, punishments, etc.). This is your opportunity to finally achieve that goal that you’ve always wanted to do!