The 10 types of behaviorism: history, theories and differences

Throughout the history of psychology, many schools of thought and schools have emerged, each of which concretely interprets the human mind and mental and behavioral processes.

One of these currents focused on what they saw as the only directly observable correlate of the psyche, behavior., Ignoring what they couldn’t measure and trying to make psychology as scientific and objective a science as possible. It’s behaviorism.

But there are different types of behavioralism. And it is that although being part of the same paradigm, several authors have established their own vision in this regard, proposing different approaches, methods and objectives. This article presents some of the different theoretical developments that the behaviorist current has given.

    The behaviorist paradigm

    Behavioralism is one of the main theoretical currents in psychology. Born at a time in history where the psychodynamic current predominates, behaviorism is opposed and differs greatly from its conception.

    Behavioralism aims to try to offer as scientific and objective an explanation as possible of psychic phenomena and human behavior, ignoring any information that cannot be directly observed. He proposes that the only clearly observable aspect of the psyche is behavior, which is the only element with which it is possible to work scientifically.

    He does not deny aspects such as mental processes, but sees them as secondary, a black box impossible to study.. Behavioralism is an environmental oriented paradigm, with behavior determined by environmental phenomena. More precisely, this is explained by the association between stimuli, which elicit a response. If we have a neutral stimulus associated with appetitive or aversive 1, the response to the first will end up being the same as the second because the link between the two stimuli is generated. Responses are conditioned, this aspect being one of the most important for the behaviorist paradigm.

    Types of behaviorism

    Since the birth of behaviorism, there have been many advancements that have taken place and several authors who have worked from it, offering different perspectives and subtypes of behaviorism. Below we briefly present some of the.

    1. Watson’s classical behaviorism

    Classical behaviorism is formulated by John B. Watson, influenced among others by the work of Pavlov and Thorndike. In this type of behavior, studies focus on the link between stimuli and responses, and it is especially important in the treatment of phobias.

    He considers that the mind is neither observable nor analyzable but a black box which is not taken into account (and in some cases denied its existence or its real importance) and being the only thing that can analyze objectively. What determines behavior is the environment and stimuli: for classical behaviorism, the subject is a passive and reactive being, who acts by learning associations.

    2. Skinner’s radical behaviorism

    Another type of behavioralism and one of the most important and recognized with that of Watson is the radical behaviorism of BF Skinner. This author believed that behavior could only be understood through simple conditioning processes, although the organism acts to adapt to good and evil. Skinner proposed that the explanation of behavior is more closely related to the perception of the consequences of our actions..

    We learn to perform a certain action in a given context has pleasant or unpleasant consequences, on the basis of which we modify our behavior by repeating or inhibiting these actions. Skinner called this behavior modification operative conditioning mode. Learning by trial and error also stands out.

    3. Interconductism or Kantor’s field behaviorism

    Similar to radical behaviorism, it differs from it in that it views behavior as an interaction rather than interpreting it as a simple response. Behavior allows the subject and the environment to be linked and interdependent, and this interaction must be studied.

    4. Tolman’s intentional or propositional behaviorism

    Edward C. Tolman establishes another type of behaviorism, this time proposing that all behavior is made up of actions that end up directing the individual towards a goal.

    The behavior is propositional and not a learned sequence. He also proposes that we make cognitive maps in order to achieve these goals and that we use them as a learning mechanism. In this type of behavior, they begin to see elements that take mental processes into account, such as intentionality. In fact, some consider him to be the first cognitivist.

    5. Hull’s deductive behaviorism

    Clark L. Hull proposes a functional view of behavior: behavior and learning are understood as a means of surviving in the environment. This is due to the formation of habits from which to satisfy or reduce impulses. The subject becomes an increasingly active role.

    6. Rachlin’s teleological behaviorism

    This branch of behaviorism establishes behavior as an intentional thing, aimed at an end, and accomplished over time. Howard Rachlin considers the mind to be the way the body works, not something internal, And ideas developed behavior over time. The idea highlights the timing of an event: its past, present and future. He also considers that the behavior occurs before the reinforced, noting that the effect occurs before the cause (the behavior is the effect of the desire to eat).

    7. Staddon’s theoretical behaviorism

    Theoretical behavioralism is a type of behavioralism in which behavior is conceived as an action derived from environmental variables. and also organic. He does not consider cognitive processes as a behavior, but as a theoretical mechanism whose only function is to manage states linking behavior and environment. It is a more cognitivist and biological approach than most variations of behaviorism.

    8. Staats psychological behavior

    This type of behaviorism is distinguished by the presentation of the concept of basic behavioral repertoires, Which are developed throughout learning and development cumulatively. The fact that he attaches importance to the emotional factors of behavior and learning is also representative.

    9. Timberlake’s Biological Behavior

    This type of behavior is distinguished by its search for explanations of behaviors and by learning from an ecological point of view of these. By William Timberlake, the behavior is linked to the context in which the subject is developing, And has a biological origin that predisposes us to feel and act in a certain way.

    10. Hayes’ functional contextualism

    This author focuses his perspective on verbal behavior: that is, on language. This serves as an intermediary element between behavior and the environment. Steven Hayes also suggests the need to study mental phenomena if one is to understand behavior. He also works on aspects such as the influence of rules on behavior.

    Other types of behaviorism and effect on other currents

    Here are some of the main types of behaviorism that have developed over time. But there are many others, like Bijou’s empirical behaviorism, or philosophical behaviorisms, emerging or systemic.

    In addition to this, it should be borne in mind that the evolution of behaviorism and the overcoming of its limits have allowed the emergence of many other theoretical models such as cognitivism and constructivism.

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