Chapter 9 discussed the Behaviorists and their influence on the field of psychology. This area of study began with simple animal trials and researchers concluded that the results of these trials, though performed on animals, could apply to human behaviors. The two main figures in this field are Ivan Pavlov and Edward Thorndike. Pavlov is very well known for his experiments with classical conditioning, specifically an experiment regarding dogs and their salivation in relation to certain cues. Classical conditioning is defined as the process in which one stimulus that does not elicit a response is associated with a second stimulus that does. His experiment involved observing dog’s reactions to food and their salivation and gastric juice levels. He began by using a bell as his conditioned stimulus which in time resulted in salivation as a conditioned reflex. His observation of the ability to link a stimulus to a reflex was a great development for the field of behaviorism. Edward Thorndike was another important behaviorist, and his experiments with animals shed more light on behavioral aspects of the mind. His first experiment involved chicks finding their way through a maze with multiple dead ends and one exit. The more times the chick went through the maze, the faster it was able to find its way out. He performed a more involved experiment on cats and their ability to escape puzzle boxes he designed to reach food on the outside. The culmination of these experiments let him to the conclusion that behaviors leading to a satisfying outcome are “stamped in” while behaviors that were unsatisfying lead to those behaviors being “stamped out”. Although Pavlov and Thorndike made great strides, behaviorism was truly founded by John Watson. His experiments with rats finding their way through mazes faster and faster with each trial shed light on muscle memory. Although many of his published ideas were ones that had been around for years, his culmination of them into one piece of writing solidified behaviorism in the minds of many. B. F. Skinner was another behaviorist who helped greatly in the advancement of the field. He believed that in order to study behavior you have to find a procedure that yields regular pattern of behavior. He stated that all we can know are external causes of a behavior and its observable results which leads to a comprehensive picture of the organism as a behaving system. He crafted the concept of operant conditioning, meaning that rewards can influence operations of an organism and eventually result in behavior that may not have occurred without this kind of conditioning; the same concept can be applied to punishment. The most interesting concept in this chapter is that of classical conditioning. Although it is very well known it was a substantial development in behaviorism. Pavlov’s purpose with this experiment was to determine if there was a connection between stimulus and reflexes and whether it was innate or could be learned. The questions he raised in this experiment involved whether behaviors could be conditioned with the right stimulus. Implications of Pavlov’s experiment are that behaviors can in fact be influenced and if something as simple as salivation can be conditioned then there could be many other potential aspects that could be manipulated.
Sunday, April 26, 2020
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