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 Observable behaviors, (not cognitive actions,) are the proper subject matter for
 Organism’s behaviors are responses to environmental stimuli.
 As individuals differ in their experiences, they will acquire different behaviors, and
subsequently, different personalities.
 Changing environmental conditions can influence a person for the better.
 Therefore, personality is not static – it can continue to change.
 Idiographic approach – studies the individual without presuming that each person
will be affected or respond the same way to the same environmental stimuli.
 “Father” of American Behaviorist Theory
 Focused research on classical conditioning – Pavlov’s experiments
 Believed in the importance of environment & nurturing in the growth of children.
 Children are passive beings who can be molded by controlling stimulus response
 “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring
them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any
type of specialist I might select doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief, and yes, even
beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities,
vocations,and the race of his ancestors” (From Behaviorism,by John Watson, 1924)
 Research on Operant Conditioning &
Negative reinforcement – behaviors are
dependent on what happens AFTER the
response, not before.
 Operant Behavior.
 “All we need to know in order to describe and
explain behavior is this: actions followed by
good outcomes are likely to recur , and
actions followed by bad outcomes are less
likely to recur.” (Skinner, 1953)
 POSITIVE REINFORCER – Increases the frequency of the behavior when it is
presented, (eg. rewarding good behavior with food or money).
 NEGATIVE REINFORCER – Increases the frequency of the behavior when adverse
stimuli is removed, (eg. Rewarding good behavior by removing an unpleasant task like
washing dishes or homework). *Note – negative reinforcement is NOT a punishment
 Punishment is an unpleasant stimulus
that suppresses behavior.
 Often used for “quick results” but
psychologists recommend
reinforcement instead due to
weaknesses of punishment.
- Does not suggest an alternate,
acceptable form of behavior.
- Suppresses behavior only as long as
the delivery is guaranteed. If parents
are inconsistent, children learn how to
“get away with murder.”
- Punishment may be imitated as an
appropriate way of solving problems.
 Learning is also acquired by observation and
 People are free thinkers, capable of free choice
and self regulation.
 Children gradually become more selective in
what they imitate.
 Modeling is the process through which
observational learning takes place.
 Models are likely to be people close to and/or
looked up to by the subject. ie. parents
Founded on the belief that all human beings strive for “Selfactualization” (the realization of our potentialities as unique human
- Person centered perspective.
- Everyone is looking for “self-actualization, but we often suffer from conflict between what we value
in ourselves and what others value in us.
Two sides to every person:
- Organism: whole of a person (incl. body). Strives to be everything it can be.
- Self: image of who you are and what you value. Develops based on observing how others react to us.
- Negative reactions cause us to develop “conditions of worth” – beliefs that we are only good/worthy if
we behave in certain ways.
- Lead us to start denying aspects of our organism.
- Greater gap between our two selves = a limited and defensive person
- Treatment – Unconditional Positive Regard – when others value us in our entirety, we will begin to
do the same, eventually self & organism become one, and we will become fully functioning