Saturday, June 26, 2010

Use of Animals in Behavioral Research

Believe it or not but animal research has helped to find cures for many different serious diseases and illnesses. Most people are opposed to using animal research for many different reasons but there are many advantages to using animals. The first two advantages for using animals in research is that you can control their genetic makeup and their learning history which would be impossible to do with a human. Another advantage is that you can control the animals experimental environment, one thing you can not do to a human is lock them in a cage and try to keep them from talking to their friends over dinner about the experiments that went on that day. In behavioral research it is important to isolate and manipulate certain things in their environment to see what effect it has on their behavior, which is almost impossible to do with humans. The fourth reason is that there is some research that can not ethically be conducted on humans. Some examples would be classical conditioning which may include high doses of drugs and drug over doses. This would most likely all be impossible to experiment with humans so ask yourself would you rather it be an small rat with a pea sized brain who can reproduce in days or a Human?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Charles Darwin"The Naturalist"

Charles Darwin also known as the " Naturalist" believed that we as individuals evolved in a slow process through different forms in a natural selection. Darwin felt that we as humans grew and developed in large part to the Earth's shaping and that it's natural forces had a huge impact on us as humans. Darwin's theory strongly suggest that each generation builds upon the works and benefits of the preceding generation. This is where Darwin belives that each generation is a continuous process and is the major source of evolution of species within this given society. Darwin also states that we are all descendants of common ancestors. He also feels that humans have passed fittest traits down through generations to each other to continue the survival of the species throughout history. Many well known scientist have bulit upon his theory today and most agree with his theory.
I am a Baptist and a very faithful church member and worker within my congregation. I strongly believe that God was the great creator of this beautiful world I call home, but I also feel that Charles Darwin's theory is accurate that each generation proceeds the other and that we evolve through science and a slow continuous process.I would have to say that I believe in the "theistic evolution" that God created the universe billions and billions of years ago with the underlining thought that all current life forms human and non-human would emerge and grow through history. This is way I believe that science and religion can coexist and that we as individuals grow and evolve throughout the generations of now and thus after.
Since we exist between natural and super-natural realities, we should not place faith and science in competition with each other, but rather exercise each discipline to its fullest advantage.

Post By: Natalie Knight

Ivan Pavlov and Classical Conditioning

From Psych 101, i immediatly became interested in Pavlov's classical conditioning experiment dealing with the salivation in dogs. I enjoyed learning about how one action directly leads to a certain reaction, and how it can be related in humans. It seems like people always ask, "why do we do what we do?" and Pavlov pioneered the research into that answer. He was originally testing the digestion and salivary glands in dogs when food was presented. He correlated it to teaching the dog that the sound of a bell meant he would be recieving food, and was pleasantly suprised when he discovered that the ringing of the bell eventually made the dog salivate as much as the actually presentation of food. Ivan Pavlov won the Nobel Peace Prize in the early 1900s for his work in classical conditioning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Radical Behaviorism-

Radical Behaviorism was introduced by B.F. Skinner, saying that the environment has the biggest influence on behavior. He says that internal events do not explain behavior, but that internal thoughts and feelings in themselves must be explained.

For example- If you are on a cruise ship and the boat begins to rock because of high seas- you feel nervous. But why do you feel nervous? Millions of people take cruises every year and there are high seas all the time. Do you begin to feel nervous because you have heard that one story about the cruise ship that sank because of high seas or that unexplained rouge wave? or do you simply feel nervous because in your environment you are experiencing high seas?

Think about it...

Classical Conditioning

Anyone who has taken intro to psychology has learned a bit about Ivan Pavlov and his research. Pavlov discovered classical conditioning by measuring the salivation of dogs when they were given food. Eventually the dogs began to respond(salivate) to the sight of the stimulus(the food) instead of the taste.

The thing that interests me about classical conditioning is its practical applications. I recently had a friend explain to me how he used this technique to train his room mate to wash his dishes more often. This video, which is the reason I chose this topic, shows a similar use of the technique.

Research on Animals

Animal research is a highly controversial ebate because of its advantages and disadvantages. Animal research has contributed to our understanding and treatment of serious diseases and illnesses, as well as our understanding of basic physiological processes. Two advantages of using animals in research are the ability to control their genetic make up and their learning history. Rats are prime examples of this because researcchers can breed them to have identical genes. Another advantage of animal research is that researchers are more able to more striclty control the experimental environment for animals than for humans. Using rats as another example, it would be easier to control their feeding schedule verses the schedule of a humans. One more advantage of using animals is that some research can not ethically be conducted on humans, the text gives overdose as an example.

Along with the advantages, there are many many criticisms. Because animals are not humans, some feel that the finding from the animal research is limited. The most controversial issue is that animal research is just flat out wrong and animals should have the same rights as humans.

Personally, I feel like animals should have their own rights and should be treated as humans. If tests are too dangerous to be performed on humans then they should not be performed on innocent animals just because they have no voice. Unfortunately, I think this is something that will be an on-going controversy with no resolution in the near future.

Time Out

Operant conditioning begins early in childhood in one form or another. Parents choose to discipline their children in a multitude of ways, the most popular being "time out." I first began using time out when my twins were two years old. As a new mom, I was unsure that it was possible for it to influence their behavior, especially at such a young age. Then I realized that being consistent with it was the only way that they would learn. They needed to know that every time they behaved badly they would get one warning, usually something like, "I'm going to count and if I get to three...," and any negative behavior after that would warrant a time out. Time out meant that they would sit by themselves for one minute for every year that they were. So my two year olds were sitting for two minutes. The more consistent I was, the more there bad behavior waned. Now, at three years old, when they are doing something that they shouldn't be, which is still often, I rarely have to get past the number one before the behavior ceases. They have learned that there are consequences to their actions.

On another note, the twins' younger brother, who is just turning two, has been participating in time out since he was one, as my method of discipline. He quickly got the point when he saw his brothers sitting in chairs, waiting for a timer to go off. Now, all I have to do is mention the phrase and he is automatically telling me he is sorry. Granted, he probably doesn't grasp the true meaning of "I'm sorry," but he is slowly understanding that with every action there is a reaction, making my job a bit easier.

Attached is another student's experiment with operant conditioning involving her four year old daughter.

Clark L. Hull and Neobehaviorism

Clark L. Hull is credited with being one of the first psychologist to refute the idea of Methodological Behaviorism. Hull believed that certain unobservable events of behavior could be defined so that they could be measured. To do this he thought that deductions should be drawn between the environment and the behavior itself. He suggested that there were "intervening variables" that correlated between the cause and effect of a behavior. This came to be known as "Neobehaviorism". I found this be an interesting concept especially because I had never read or heard about it before. I have taken many psychology classes and not once did I learn about Hull and Neobehaviorism. It does make sense to me though that there are certain factors or "variables" that cannot be directly observed that influence behavior.

Observational Learning

Since reading about the way in which children learn (home environment, social interactions, etc.), I have become very interested in the idea of observational learning. Albert Bandura researched on such topics and created the Social Learning Theory, which explains how observational learning directly influences human behavior. This means that if a child witnesses less-than-perfect behavior from their parents, they may take on these same negative attributes. Of course this could also mean that a parent showing good qualities may make the child also express good qualities. The point is that a child's environment and social interactions play an enormous role in their behavior. Therefore, a parent should be wise when acting in certain ways around their young children. This video shows just that.


A persons behavior has always been a subject that has fascinated me for a number of reasons. It has always been a question in the back of my mind how people could live in the same world but be different products of different environments and they can act two different ways towards life in general. John Watson believed that people reacted to certain stimuli the same way that animals did, (if something is presented to a human we all would react to it the same way.) B.F Skinner looked at things from a different point of view, he knew that everybody didn't react to specific stimuli in the same ways. He proposed that people operate on the environment to produce certain consequences. This makes perfect since to me because everything around you can influence how you might react the stimuli around you. Everybody does not learn the same and everyone might have different influences that would make them react differently. This video explains exactly what I am trying to say.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Baby Can Read

People learn at different ages and stages. Babies learn moreso by active learning. Pictures, words and actions help them memorize words at a faster pace. Its easy for kids to learn things because their minds are like a sponge, at which they can obtain alot of information. The program does cost alot of money and in fact the parent doesnt necessarily have to do anything but pop the tape/dvd in the tv and sit the kid in front of the screen to learn.The parent can take a different approach by using flash cards as a way of repitition for the kid which makes the child feel comfortable in their learning process.


William James was a psychologist who helped establish functionalism. In many psychology classes we learn about different psychologists such as Skinner, Watson, Freud, Maslow, but never had I heard about William James. As a man who is often regarded as the founder of American Psychology, I am shocked that he was not mentioned in any of my classes yet. Functionalism assumes that the mind evolved to help us adapt to the world around us. Functionalism also suggests that psychology should study these adaptive processes. I like this concept because in a changing world people have to adapt and cope with many different things. Life itself is a adaptive process. From birth to the elderly stages in life, people are always adapting. We adapt to new environments such as school, we adapt to new home environments when we move to new places, adapt to different foods, etc. I think especially now in this economic times families are adapting to different lifestyles which they may not have been accustomed to before. Rather than studying the structure of the mind functionalists studies the adaptive significance of the mind. They were also not opposed to studying animals. I think now would be a great time to study some of the adaptive processes of people to see how they are adapting to the world today.

<---William James (1842-1910) more information on functionalism can be found on page ten of our text.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why The Title?

When BF Skinner wrote the book Walden II in the late 1940's he set off a controversy. The book called for a community living utopia with socialist ideals. Skinner himself describes the community as a type of non-violent anarchy. One of the most controversial issues was the call to disband the traditional family and involve the community in child rearing.
While I don't entirely agree with Skinners book I think the concepts are intriguing and worth thinking about. If anyone gets a chance to read this interesting book you will be greatly rewarded. The book's concepts are extensions of what we will learn about radical behaviorism in our text book and lectures.