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Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral Psychology: this short article explains Behavioral Psychology in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition and goal), this article also highlights some well-known behavioral experts, types, techniques and tips. Enjoy reading!

Behavioral Psychology: this short article explains Behavioral Psychology in a practical way. Next to what it is (definition and goal), this article also highlights some well-known behavioral experts, types, techniques and tips. Enjoy reading!

What is Behavioral Psychology?


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.

Goal of behavioral psychology

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 within behavioral psychology. 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.

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