Behavioral psychology is also known as behavioral psychology . This is a branch of psychology which focuses its attention on studying what are the most common behaviors of people. The use of different theories has been proposed , based on various ideas that try to find an origin or explanation for human behavior.

Conditioning dictates that people’s interaction with the environment is the main influence. Those who defend this theory find logic in understanding the possibility that each response is the result of environmental stimuli . These are responsible for the actions and decisions generated psychologically.

Behavior can be studied by observation. The psychology has managed to identify and understand the emotions , moods and cognitions; all of these are subjective aspects .

People are prone to any type of action, regardless of genetic factors . Behavioral psychology defends that internal thoughts are not so relevant and neither are personality traits .

This approach to psychology emphasizes the use of a scientific method and the practice of continuous investigations. The observation of behaviors , responses and stimuli; They are all behaviors that, according to this branch of psychology, are elements learned through interaction with the environment. 

What is behavioral psychology?

Behavioral psychology is defined as the area of ​​psychology that focuses on understanding human behavior . Its origin is found in the publication of the book called “Psychology from the perspective of the behaviorist” whose author is John B. Watson published in 1913.

He was the first to propose and defend that human behavior is the result of being shaped by experience . The origin of a person is not relevant , according to this theory, people can be trained to act in a particular way through conditioning.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, behavioral psychology has established itself as one of the dominant thoughts in psychology. Those who have exercised their study have sought to make contributions to understand the complexity of human behavior, it is considered to be a measurable and also objective science .

Behavioral psychology classification 

Behavioral psychology has two main aspects, that is, two different propositions with which behavioral analyzes are carried out. One of them is classical conditioning and the other is operant conditioning . These are described as techniques or methodologies typical of this branch of psychology.

Classical conditioning

This is a technique that is considered to be the most traditional, behavior is trained through the use of neutral stimuli . They are combined with a response that can be automated or instead a reflex, that is, an unconditioned response.

This technique uses a neutral stimulus that must elicit a response that is equally neutral. The resulting stimulus is conditioned , therefore it is concluded that the behavior is learned as part of a response that is conditioned.

Operant conditioning

It is a technique that is also known by the name of instrumental conditioning . Its use implies that the learning process is the result of reinforcement and punishment . That is, it is established that there is an association between human behavior and the consequences of certain behaviors.

After an action was expected a result , there is a greater chance that it can be repeated. So the answers are diverse because there are also adverse results, here there is less probability that it will happen again in the same way.

The characteristics of behavioral psychology

Behavioral psychology has several basic characteristics with which we proceed to analyze human behavior. These are assumptions that establish that behaviorism is governed by a number of aspects, which are considered to have already been tested and serve as a basis. Next, we describe each one of them:

  • Behavior is learned by interacting with the environment . Behaviorism defends that environmental factors exert an important influence on behavior.
  • Inherited and innate personality factors are excluded . Behavioral psychology maintains an approach that focuses on learning. Any behavior is learned through classical conditioning or operant conditioning.
  • The theories handled by this branch of psychology are supported through the use of empirical data . They are obtained through observation and measurement of behavior.
  • It is considered to be an experimental and objective science . It is theoretical and tries to make predictions regarding human behavior.
  • He bases his study mainly on observable behavior . Internal events like thought and emotion are not studied in depth. The existence of cognitions and emotions is accepted , but only external aspects that can be scientifically measured are studied.
  • There is no distinction between human and animal learning. Therefore, investigations can be carried out in individuals of different species . As a result, comparative psychology is obtained , behavioral data is used.
  • Behavior is always the result of a response to a stimulus . Regardless of the complexity of an individual’s behavior, it follows that there is an association between them. 
  • Different factors can influence the conditioning process.
  • It is argued that learning also occurs through the use of rewards and punishments .

Some examples from behavioral psychology

Some key points of behavioral psychology can be better understood through examples. The different conditioning processes are created through complex experiences, between the individual and the environment.

Learning can be the result of associations between environmental or automatic stimuli and a reflex. Different experiments have been carried out on animals, one of them is by the physiologist Ivan Pavlov on dogs; whom he fed through various changes in conditioning. As a result, salivation is an automatic response to sounds or any other stimulus that signals that food will be served soon.

Learning also occurs through punishments and rewards. According to what is proposed by the behavioral psychologist BF Skinner , operant conditioning occurs through a learning process in which punishment and reinforcement are relevant .

The most common examples are found in the use of praise or the offering of gifts . If parents or teachers use these rewards, they can shape the behavior they want in children. This is constantly reinforced, which guarantees that the individual makes permanent changes in their behavior.

The various therapeutic techniques used by behavioral psychology can also be used as an example . These are currently applied to develop new skills in people with intellectual delays or in children with autism.

Processes such as reward and chaining are involved , the latter consists of dividing a task into sections to teach complex processes through subsequent steps . There is also the case of aversion therapy and systematic desensitization.

Punishments involve the presentation of a stimulus that as a consequence helps to decrease the frequency of a response. It is often used to eliminate behaviors that are undesirable.

For example, they apply to students who are sanctioned through assignments, calls to representatives or detention of the student after school, which represents the elimination of the privilege to choose where to go or with whom to be.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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