What is neo behaviorism?


Many times it has been heard about behaviorism as a psychological current, however, neo- behaviorism is rarely mentioned, this current affirms that stimuli and responses are not enough for the evaluation of human behavior.


What is neo-behaviorism?

It is a current that is rooted in the basic principles of behaviorism and conditioning, however, as the variables of the stimulus , reinforcer and response to this theory are not enough, in this one other types of intermediate variables are addressed to exhaustively analyze the behavior of the subject by correcting certain behavior.



Neo- behaviorism is the evolution of the behaviorist current that makes the phenomenon of learning its main object of research. Their common purpose is to elaborate a general theory of learning , based on experimentation with classical and instrumental conditioning procedures , which can be extended, with due qualifications, to learned behavior in general and, specifically, to complex behavior that is characteristic of the human being.


What do you study

Since it is based on what behaviorism and conditioning is , neobehaviorism does not differ much in its concept, however, let’s say it gives behaviorism a next level, not only evaluating behavior before and after a stimulus or reinforcement, but that investigating in the same way the mental processes while carrying out the activities to change said behavior and the way in which the subject stores the information through said activity.

Characteristics of neo-behaviorism

The main characteristics of neo-behaviorism are:

  • It is a slight evolution of common behaviorism.
  • It studies in addition to the behavioral processes that a subject goes through, the cognitive processes of the same.
  • Study how people gradually change their habits and how they behave when doing so.
  • Specify and fully inquire about human behaviors.

Background and history

Neo- behaviorism was born around 1930 , thanks to a group of psychologists including  Edward Chace Tolman and Clark Leonard Hull, who agreed with behaviorism, however, it did not seem to them that it provided substantive and effective information in its entirety. , for which they were based on it and contributed things, mostly variables to the current, changing the name to neo-behaviorism and making it their favorite current.

However, some connoisseurs of the subject and its antecedents affirm that the father of this psychological trend was the philosopher Burrhus Frederic Skinner, who made various investigations that as a purpose generated contributions to the current through published works and through a series of inventions and experiments such as Skinner’s box.

Principles of neo-behaviorism

The principles of neo – behaviorism vary according to which of the two types is used, since both have different principles although focused on the same end, if the intentional is preferred, the principles will be based on the expectations and needs of the subject , on the other hand, if it is chosen the deductive, these principles are more focused on how much a stimulus depends on a response and vice versa.


There are two types of neobehaviorism which are the following:

  • Intentional neobehaviorism: Explains the behavior according to the needs of the animal or subject and their knowledge, that is, expectations, behaviors learned to achieve an end.
  • Deductive neobehaviorism: According to this type of neobehaviorism, the strength of a habit will depend on a constant sequence of stimulus and joint response to reinforcers of the magnitude that is necessary according to the individual’s personality, as long as this is associated with a biological need and fundamental.


  • Laws, theorems and axioms that allow to predict and control behavior.
  • Provides the theory of drive reduction
  • It establishes that the origin of the behavior comes from external stimuli and internal intervening variables (biological origin) that give the behavior (response).

How it differs from behaviorism

Neo-behaviorism focuses on the mental processes and thoughts that go through the subject when he is carrying out certain activities with a purpose, thus evaluating not only the behavior of the evaluated person, but also how said activities and said learning affect his cognition; On the contrary, behaviorism is only in charge of exhaustively analyzing the behavioral and physical manifestations that the subject presents at the time of the investigation or experiment.


Among the different representatives of neo-behaviorism we highlight:

  • Edward chace tolman
  • Clark leonard hull
  • Edwin ray guthrie

Importance of neo-behaviorism

This current is important since it not only evaluates behavior, it goes a step further and also investigates the changes that occur at the level of cognition ; leaving as a legacy to future connoisseurs that the matter that is not enough with the attitude or behavior of the studied, mental processes also cover great importance, therefore, it must be taken into account for experiments and studies, coupled with it has its distinctive methods to control behavior, that although behaviorism has its own, it is not too much to have this current as support.

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