Behaviorism Learning Theory

Behaviorism Learning Theory is based around the idea of conditioning certain behaviors, which occurs through communication and other synergies with the surroundings.

Some behaviorists argue that only observable behavior should be included in the idea since unobservable emotions and moods are too subjective (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). Any person, regardless of their background, character, and thoughts, to be trained to accomplish any task.

John B. Watson

Behaviorism was initiated by John B. Watson ‘Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It’. Uncovered people’s reflexes and cognitive responses (Shriver, 2019). Believed that all behaviors come from the person’s experiences.

B.F. Skinner

‘The actions followed by good outcomes are likely to reoccur, while the actions followed by horrid outcomes are less likely to occur again’.

Edward Thorndike

Noticed a pattern, where animals behaved well only when rewarded. Negative conditioning proved to be worse, since the animals quickly forgot what they learned.

The probability of good behavior is higher with the reward. The confidence of a student can be boosted if the teacher uses behavioral pattern. The learning process would be easier by using this technique.

From simple to complex

Behaviorism emphasizes the essentiality of learning gradually from simple to complex. It makes the reward in the context of learning a vital aspect of the process.

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning was discovered by the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, who first trained the concept on his dogs (Abramowitz & Blakey, 2020). It creates an association between an environmental stimulus and a natural one.

Classical conditioning can work against the instructor as well since the conditioned stimulus would evoke the longing for the reward even if the prize is not going to occur.

Operant Conditioning

Method that does not use positive associations but instead reinforcements and punishments. The desired action is less likely to occur through this conditioning method since the person would think not about the studying process but instead dreading the consequences (Staddon, 2017).


  • One of the benefits of the presented method for adults is that it focuses on the behaviors that can be measured.
  • Behaviorism had given many sciences a new approach, which includes therapy, economy, and learning.


  • Can appear as one-dimensional in relation to human behavior.
  • Have no account for human feelings, moods, and thoughts.
  • Freud was the prominent critic of the idea since it failed to account for the unconscious within a human mind.
  • Carl Rogers believed that the approach was limited since it could not consider each person’s personality.


While the behavioral approach can appear beneficial while teaching animals or small children, it has some benefits in conditioning the observant behaviors. It can have some use to discourage unwanted behavior and reward the positive one, but the theory is less beneficial than the other psychological approaches.


Abramowitz, J., & Blakey, S. (Eds.). (2020). Clinical Handbook of Fear and Anxiety: Maintenance Processes and Treatment Mechanisms. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Mukhalalati, B. A., & Taylor, A. (2019). Adult Learning Theories in Context: A Quick Guide for Healthcare Professional Educators. Journal of medical education and curricular development. Web.

Shriver, M. (2019). Applied behavior analysis in education: the role of the board certified behavior analyst. In Little S. & Akin-Little A. (Eds.), Behavioral Interventions in Schools: Evidence-Based Positive Strategies (pp. 133-142). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Web.

Staddon, J. (2017). Theoretical behaviorism. Behavior and Philosophy, 45, 26-44. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Behaviorism Learning Theory." September 5, 2023.