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Behavioral Psychology

What is Behavioral Psychology? The definition
Behavioral psychology is the study of the relationship and functioning between the human mind and human behavior. Behavioral psychology is also known as behaviorism.

What is Behavioral Psychology? The definition
Behavioral psychology is the study of the relationship and functioning between the human mind and human behavior. Behavioral psychology is also known as behaviorism.

Researchers and scientists in behavioral psychology are trying to understand why people behave the way they do. They are also concerned with discovering patterns in our behavior and in our actions.

The goal of behavioral psychology is to better predict how people will behave and how better habits can help develop a healthy mind.

Behaviorism is based on the idea that all behavior stems from conditioning. Conditioning takes place through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that actions are shaped and prompted by stimuli from a human’s environment.

According to this idea, behavior can be studied in a systemic and observable way, regardless of mental states. Only observable behavior is included, since cognitions, mood and emotions are far too subjective.

Behaviorists believe that any human being can be trained to perform a task. It does not matter which task, of course within the physical possibilities, as long as the correct form of conditioning is used.

Cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavior therapy are also related to principles of behaviorism. Albert Ellis was a well-known psychologist who made many valuable contributions to the subject, for example with the ABC model.


Well-known behavioral experts
The study of behavioral psychology was founded by some well-known psychologists. The first mention of behaviorism in literature is in ‘Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It’, published by John B. Watson in 1913. Other famous behaviorists include B.F. Skinner, with his theory of operant conditioning, and Edwin Ray Guthrie, Edward C. Tollman and Kenneth Spence.

John B. Watson is considered the father of behaviorism. He said, “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors”.

Types of behaviorism

A distinction is generally made between two main types of behaviorism. These are used to describe how behavior is formed.

Methodological behaviorism

Methodological behaviorism assumes that observable behavior should be studied in a scientific way and that an individual’s mental states, as well as cognitive processes, do not contribute to the understanding of a particular behavior. This perspective on behavior and behaviorism is in line with Watson’s principles.

Radical behaviorism

Radical behaviorism argues that behavior can be understood by looking closely at one’s past and present environment and the reinforcements therein. These reinforcements explain certain positive or negative behaviors. This approach to behaviorism and the explanation of specific behavior is in line with the views of psychologist B.F. Skinner.

Techniques from behavioral psychology

Several concepts grounded in behaviorism are used in therapy.

Systematic desensitization

Systematic desensitization is used for people with a phobia, which is characterized by an apparent fear or concern about a situation or an object. So it can be about airplanes, but also about animals or other things.

Therapy for desensitization involves applying coping and relaxation techniques during gradual exposure to the object or situation.

Exposure and response prevention

Exposure and response prevention is a form of therapy through exposure to fearful situations and engaging in effective coping techniques. This technique is mainly used for obsessive compulsive disorders and other anxiety problems.

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Tips and tricks

The articles linked to the behavioral psychology tag deal with various theories from behavioral psychology and related topics. Are you missing any topics on this topic? Let us know in the comments or send an email. We are happy to help you learn about new topics and techniques.

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy / CBT? Theory explained

December 8th, 2022

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: this article explains the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in a practical way. Next to what is is, and the definition, this article als highlights the frequently occurring cognitive errors, the CBT triangle and the techniques. Enjoy reading! What…

Who is Albert Bandura? Biography, theory, quotes and books

December 7th, 2022

Albert Bandura (1925) is a globally recognized psychologist, author, and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University. He made valuable contributions to the field of psychology, including social cognitive and personality psychology. Theorist Albert Bandura is additionally the originator of the concepts…

ASE model (De Vries): Explanation and Tips

November 10th, 2022

ASE model: this article explains the ASE model in a practical way. After reading it you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology tool. This article contains the general definition of the ASE model, its steps and a practical…

Cognitive Restructuring (CR): Definition, Worksheet and Examples

November 8th, 2022

Cognitive Restructuring: this article explains Cognitive Restructuring (CR) in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful stress management tool. This article also contains a downloadable and editable Cognitive Restructuring Worksheet. The article further…

What is Operant Conditioning by Skinner? Definition and Examples

October 25th, 2022

Operant Conditioning: this article provides a practical explanation of the Operant Conditioning by Burrhus F. Skinner. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful motivation theory. This article contains the general definition of Operant Conditioning, an explanation of…

Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen)

October 1st, 2022

Theory of Planned Behavior: This article explains the Theory of Planned Behavior, developed by Icek Ajzen in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology theory. What is the Theory of Planned…

5G model

September 29th, 2022

5G Model: This article explains the 5G model in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this self-development and behavior change method. What is the 5G model? The 5G model is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

ABC model of Behavior (Ellis)

August 27th, 2022

ABC model of Behavior: this article explains the ABC model of Behavior, developed by Albert Ellis, in a practical way. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful mindset tool. What is the ABC model of…

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

August 27th, 2022

Rational Emotive Therapy: this article explains the Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), developed by Albert Ellis in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful psychology tool. What is the Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) method?…
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