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Core studies - behaviourist perspective

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Abby Lowe

on 29 November 2012

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Transcript of Core studies - behaviourist perspective

Behaviourist Perspective Assumptions Key theories How the behaviourist perspective explains conformity in tyrannical regimes. How the behaviourist perspective explains obedience How the behaviourist perspective explains acquisition of language How the behaviourist perspective explains helping behaviour How the behaviourit perspective explains gambling addiction All behaviours are learned.
The person is born as a blank slate and their environment shapes their behaviour and determines who they become.
Therefore, any behaviour is seen as a learned response to a stimulus from the environment. Classical conditioning - behaviour is an association between stimulus and response.
Operant conditioning - behaviour is learned through consequence of actions (rewards or punishment).
Social learning theory - behaviour is learned through observation and imitation of role models. Behaviourists assume behaviour is learnt from others. Therefore people who act tyranically must learn from others acting this way around them.
Operant conditioning would explain that people act tyranically due to negative reinforcement - having unpleasant stimuli taken away if they act tyranically.
In R&H's study, the conformity of other prisoners to the negative behaviour of some prisoners was to remove the pressure they were under to conform.
The guards were also negatively reinforced to avoid contact with the prisoners (retreating to their quarters to avoid ridicule) allowing tyranny to take over. We are all born as a blank slate and our environment shapes and determines behaviour. Operant conditioning would explain why the chimps would complete tasks due to positive reinforcement - given food when pressed the right button. In Savage-Rumbaugh's study positive reinforcement was used whenever a chimp got a letter correct on the lexigram. The chimps were positively reinforced so they are more likely to carry on getting rewards. Behaviourists assume behaviour is learnt from others. Therefore people that obey figures of authority must of learnt to obey figures from a young age. Nazi soldiers obeyed officers to reduce the pressure put on them (negative reinforcement). People carried on pressing the button to give the shocks because they were under pressure and they wanted to relieve the pressure from the researcher. Therefore we obey to remove unpleasant pressure from authority figures. Piliavin's experiment was to see if passengers would help out the model when they fell down. There was positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. In Piliavin's study the participants were more likely to help the cane victim than the drunk, as the positive reinforcement for helping the cane victim is greater. There was also negative reinforcement because by helping, the unpleasant situation is removed, more people helped because of this - there was an increase in helping behaviour. Behaviourists assume everyone is born with a blank slate and therefore gambling is embedded by the environment. Operant conditioning would explain why people risk losing money due to negative reinforcement - taking away the feeling of loss by risking more money. In Griffiths' study when losing money on the machine they had to put another pound in to try and win again, creating negative reinforcement when they do get a pay out. When you lose money you are negtively reinforced to put more money in, there is positive reinforcement when you win. How the behaviourist perspective explains phobias The person is born as a blank slate so what they see in their environment can produce the phobia. Phobias are an example of classical conditioning - a person learns throughout their life to associate a neutral stimulus with feelings of fear. Hans heard his sister being told not to go too close to the horse as it would bite. This created a phobia. Therefore phobias manifest themselves into fear of neutral stimuli as a result of various contributing environmental factors, predominantly negative experiences held by others or past experiences such as the case of Little Hans. How the behaviourist approach explains aggressive behaviour Aggressive behaviour is created by a persons environment, the behaviour is learnt as we are all born as a blank slate. The social learning theory would explain why aggressive behaviour would catch someone's attention, they would remember it, they would then reproduce this behaviour, if they wanted to act that way they would be motivated to. Bandura's study of aggression, the children copied the adult role models action and started aggression towards the bobo doll. The children had the ability to reproduce the behaviour because there was a mini bobo doll and they were motivated by the arousal. Similarities between studies Milgram and Piliavin both have ethical issues.
Milgram percieved his participants as he didn't tell them the true aim of the experiment , which was on obedience and may have also caused them psychological harm because of what they had to do.
In Piliavin's experiment the participants didn't have the right to withdraw as they were stuck on the train, and they were also not given a brief or debief. Differences between studies A difference between Milgram and Piliavin's study is the levels of ecological validity.
Piliavin's experiment was high in ecological validity because it was conducted in a real life natural environment - a subway train.
Milgram's experiment was low in ecological validity because it was a highly controlled lab experiment, and conducted at a university, this may not be reliable and the results may be different if conducted in a different environment. Strengths of the behaviorist perspective Research from the behaviourist perspective uses scientific methods such as lab experiments and controlled observtions to study behaviours.
Savage-Rumbaugh used formal tests on the chimps where the researcher was not in sight to reduce the chance of the chimps taking visual cues off the researcher. This allows researchers to isolate and control extraneous variables when studying human behaviours and therefore it is easier to show cause and effect. Strengths of the behaviorist perspective Research also has practical applications in educational and therapeutic settings.
Bandura et al contributed to our understanging of why aggression occurs which could help reduce aggression in children or in those with anger management issues.
This makes research useful as it can improve the experience of humans and animals and is therefore beneficial to the whole society. Weaknesses of the behaviourist perspective It is reductionist as it assumes that all our behaviour is learned through our interaction with the environment.
Bandura et al suggest aggression will always be imitated due to role models, ignoring any past motivations children may have for being aggressive (such as family problems).
Some factors affecting human behaviour are ignored, making explanations less useful. Weaknesses of the behaviourist perspective A lot of behaviourist explanations are based on research using animals since animals are considered to share the same ancestors as humans.
Savage-Rumbaugh et al required the chimps to complete formal tests and select pictures that represented the item spoken to them. This is not normal behaviour for chimps.
As humans are a more evolved species with complex motivations, any explanation of behaviour that is based on animal research is very difficult to generalise to humans, making it less useful. Strengths
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