Skinner vs. Bandura

2199 Words Mar 7th, 2010 9 Pages
Behaviorism has been a major school of thought in psychology since 1913, when John B. Watson published an influential article. Watson argued that psychology should abandon its earlier focus on mind and mental processes and focus exclusively on overt behavior. He contended that psychology could not study mental processes in a scientific manner because they are private and not accessible to outside observation. In completely rejecting mental processes as a suitable subject for scientific study, Watson took an extreme position that is no longer dominant among modern behaviorists. Thus, most behaviorists view an individual’s personality as a collection of response tendencies that are tied to various stimulus situations. A specific situation …show more content…
For example, I clowned around in class and gained appreciative comments and smiles from schoolmates. This social approval reinforced my clowning-around behavior. If such behavior would have been reinforced with some regularity, it would have gradually become an integral element of my personality. Similarly, whether or not I developed traits such as independence, assertiveness, or selfishness depended on whether I got reinforced for such behavior by parents or by other influential persons. “Negative reinforcement occurs when a response is strengthened (increased in frequency) because it is followed by the removal of a (presumably) unpleasant stimulus “(Skinner, p.67). Do not let the word negative here confuse you. Negative reinforcement is reinforcement. Like positive reinforcement, it strengthens a response. However, this strengthening occurs because the response gets rid of an aversive stimulus. Consider a few examples: I rush home in winter to get out of the cold. I clean my house to get rid of a mess. Parents gave in to my begging to halt my whining. Negative reinforcement plays a major role in the development of avoidance tendencies. As you have may notices, many people tend to avoid facing up to awkward situations and sticky personal problems. This personality trait typically develops because avoidance behavior gets rid of anxiety and is therefore negatively
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