Theories of Behavior Applied Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Behaviorist and Cognitive Theory

Psychology took a center stage and significant change in the early 20th Century when the behaviorism school of thought became dominant. This was a major change from other theoretical perspectives that existed before hence rejecting emphasis on unconscious and conscious mind. Behaviorism strove to see that psychology becomes a more scientific discipline in that focus will be mainly on observable behavior. This approach to psychology whereby the elements of philosophy, methodology and theory are combined. The primary tenet of behaviorism as it was expressed by JohnB.Watson, B.F Skinner in writing is that the primary concern in psychology should be the behaviors that can be observed both in humans and animals and not the unobserved events which take place within the minds of individuals. This school of thought maintains that behaviors can easily be described scientifically without recourse either to any psychological events that occur internally or to a hypothesis that has been constructed such as thoughts and beliefs.

As early as he 19th Century, the behaviorist school of thought was running concurrently and shared common things with Gestalt and psychoanalytic movements in psychology right into the 20th century. The main influences to this theory were Ivan Pavlov who looked into classical conditioning even though he was not in agreement with the behaviorism theory and the behaviorists. This demonstrated that behaviors could be learned through conditioned associations. Other contributors like Edward Lee Thorndike and John B. Watson rejected introspective methods and decided to restrict psychology to mainly experimental methods. The other contributor B.F Skinner carried out research con operant conditioning. Behaviorism began to loose its hold of psychology but its basic principles remained widely used.

Cognitive theory is based on the premise that an individual's thoughts control their actions, their personality and to some extent their circumstances. This theory attempts to give an explanation of human behavior through the understanding of the thought process. The main idea behind this theory is that a person ends up into what they think. The behavior of an individual is as a result of what they think and hence they can be controlled. The main assumption in this theory is that in human beings, the primary determinant of behavior and emotions is their thoughts. This theory holds the claim that the thinking processes and patterns in an individual can be easily changed if they learn how to recognize both correct and destructive tendencies. There are others who believe that entire life circumstances as well as outcomes can be controlled directly through the process of thinking. According to the cognitive theory, an individual can be able to encourage or unlock new ways and [patters of thinking through meditation. The cognitive theory gained a lot of stronghold between 1980's and 1990s (Fritscher, 2014).

However, pure cognitive theory disputes behaviorism based on the fact that behaviorism reduces any complex human behaviors to a simple cause and effect. However, t6here has been a trend over the past decades towards the merging of these two theories. This merger allows therapist…

Sources Used in Document:


Leahey, T.H., Greer, S., Lefrancois, G.R., Reiner, T.W., Spencer, J.L., Wickramasekera, I.E., & Willmarth, E.K. (2014). History of Psychology. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education. ISBN-13: 9781621785682

Fritscher, L. (2014). Cognitive Theory. Retrieved September 17, 2014 from

Gonzalez-Prendes, A. & Resko, S. (2009). Cognitive-Behavioral Theory.

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