At present we can observe how psychology includes a variety of different theoretical orientations . The types of psychological paradigms that exist include a series of guidelines regarding behavior that encourage us to practice professional practices in different ways. The behaviorism is one of the orientations common in today ‘s world between what psychologists . Behaviorists perceive the living being as a “ clean sheet ”, in whom behavior is determined by the reinforcements and punishments they receive.


What is behaviorism?

Behaviorism is a branch of psychology that is responsible for studying the common laws that determine different human and even animal behaviors . It focuses on the behavior that can be observed, prioritizing the objective over the subjective for this reason.


 What does behaviorism study

It is responsible for studying the use of different experimental procedures with the aim of studying observable behavior , that is, behavior , taking into account the environment in which man develops and the set of stimuli and responses thereof. Study then, the interaction that occurs between living beings and stimuli from the environment or external environment.



Its main characteristics are the following:

  • It is based on classical conditioning .
  • Associate initial stimuli with neutral events .
  • It has an operable conditioning .
  • The actions individuals are followed by something desirable or undesirable.
  • Study the different behaviors that are subject to the laws of behavior.
  • It has physical monism , that is, it does not have a mind-body dualism .
  • Denies the existence of the mind .
  • Behaviors are treated as observable and not as an expression of a deep state.
  • Behavior is a fruit of learned experiences, not of innate factors.
  • There is a constant association between stimuli and responses.


The school of behaviorism developed from the different studies on animal behavior . For the behaviorists, it was not important to think about what was being thought or felt, and they focused more on what was actually visible . For this reason, they studied what could be seen by replacing introspection as a research method with laboratory studies on conditioning as a type of learning.


The different studies carried out by Darwin at the end of the 19th century gave rise to the appearance of different ways of thinking regarding the human sciences . Around the year 1913 , the first theories about behaviorism began to be given . John Watson was the first to start the new school of behaviorism. He focused on what could be observed, studying only the facts and behaviors that were visible to the eyes of scholars. Different laboratory tests began to be carried out , thinking that it was possible to get to know the way in which a person or animalhe could react to a stimulus , to get to know what was in the mind. By the early twentieth century, Watson argued that observable behavior as an object of study, gave rise to behavior . Ivan Pavlov was one of the main precursors who contributed ideas to Watson’s theory. By 1920, radical behaviorism flourished and was known worldwide. By the eighties, there was an explosion with respect to behaviorism, which became essential to solve some problems. Several behavioral theories emerged based on previously conducted studies of behaviorism.


Among the main representatives of behaviorism we can mention the following:

  • John B. Watson who is the founder of behaviorism.
  • F. Skinner , creator of operant behaviorism.
  • R. Kantor , who formulated the theory of interbehaviorism.
  • Clark Hull and Edward C . Tolman who together developed mediational behaviorism
  • Ribes and Josep Roca i Balasch , modern psychologists who created the theory of field behaviorism.
  • Staats who developed psychological behaviorism.
  • . C. Hayes .
  • Rachlin founder of teleological behaviorism.
  • Staddon located within radical behaviorism.

Principles of behaviorism

  • Frequency Principle:  This principle states that for a conditioning process to take place effectively, unconditional stimuli and conditional stimuli must be frequent . This means that, with a single conditioning or association of stimuli, it is not enough to achieve learning.
  • Principle of recency: it  explains that when a conditioned stimulus is applied it must be recent in time. The stimulus should never be presented after or after a long period of time.
  • Principle of extinction: it  explains that what is learned is forgotten if the conditions are not given repeatedly .
  • Spontaneous recovery  principle : this principle is linked to the extinction principle and then to the process of association of unconditioned and conditioned stimuli.
  • Generalization principle:  There are reactions to conditioned responses and to the presentation of similar , but not identical, stimuli .
  • Principle of discrimination :  The opposite of generalization . Only one thing is recognized.


He has collaborated greatly with psychology , on the different investigations regarding the principles of learning , which have been systematized in the theory of classical and operant conditioning. It helps to modify behavior and develop therapies for it. Research the different teaching and training methods .


One of the applications in psychology is behavioral therapy that tries to teach the person to emit responses before the stimuli that previously provoked maladaptive responses. It is used in programmed instruction and behavioral goals within the branch of education.

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