What is Behaviorism:

Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is an area of psychology that has behavior as its object of study .

Behaviorism emerged as opposed to functionalism and structuralism, and is one of the three major streams of psychology, along with form psychology (Gestalt) and analytical psychology (psychoanalysis).

It is a theory of learning which is based on an idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning which occurs by interacting with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli infljuence our actions.

This word comes from the term behavior , which in English means behavior or conduct .


In 1913, an article was published under the name “Psychology: How Behaviorists See It” by the American psychologist John Watson (recognized as the father of Methodological Behaviorism). Later, in 1914, in the 1914 work entitled Behavior , Watson once again addressed the concept of behavioral psychology. Watson drew on the theories and notions of various thinkers and authors such as Descartes, Pavlov, Loeb and Comte.

Behaviorism contemplates behavior as a functional and reactionary form of living organisms. This psychological current does not accept any relation to the transcendental, introspection and philosophical aspects, but aims to study objective behaviors that can be observed.

According to Watson, the study of the environment involving an individual enables the prediction and control of human behavior.

See also: The meaning of psychoanalysis, Behaviour and gestalt .

Skinner’s radical behaviorism

Radical behaviorism , a concept proposed by the American psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner, was opposed to Watson’s behaviorism . According to Skinner, radical behaviorism is the philosophy of the science of human behavior, where the environment was responsible for human behavior. This aspect was very popular in Brazil and the United States.

Skinner was clearly against using unobservable elements to explain human conduct. Thus, cognitive aspects are not considered, because the human being is seen as a homogeneous being, and not as a being composed of body and mind.

Radical behaviorism contemplates the stimuli given to individuals by the environment. According to Skinner, these means were known as punishment, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.

Behaviorism in education

In education, it refers to a change in the behavior of the elements involved in the learning process, and this change in teachers and students could improve learning. For Watson, education is an important element that can transform the conduct of individuals.

In addition, Watson believed that with specific stimuli, it was possible to “transform” and “shape” a child’s behavior so that he could pursue any profession he chose.

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