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Behaviorism and Humanism

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Shakari Cook

General Psychology

Dr. Claypoole


August 21, 2018

Behaviorism and Humanism

Behaviorism and humanism are two theoretical approaches for dealing with human events and assisting in personal behaviors and mental processes. To really understand them and the role they play, it is necessary to understand the theories and that theories are never right or wrong. A theory is only a way of organizing data in a useful fashion for dealing with problems. Behaviorism and Humanism aren’t right or wrong but they are alternate ways of looking at human problems and how each assist in the approach of behavior and mental processes. Each is useful and efficient with its contributions and I’ll explain how below.

Behaviorism studied the conditioning processes that produce behavior. The behaviorist learning orientation is useful for the development of competencies. Behaviorism concentrates on the behavior which can be seen from the outside. Behaviorism rejects mind or mental activity. Behaviorism focuses on repeated behavior which eventually becomes habit. Behaviorism cannot be applied for learning if there is not a punishment or reinforcement. It is believed that we develop certain response tendencies. In other words, we learn to behave in particular ways. We increase the behaviors that lead to positive consequences, and we decrease the behaviors that lead to negative consequences. Our responses can change as we come across new situations.

Humanist thinkers felt that behaviorism failed to take into account the role of personal choice. Humanistic psychology added yet another dimension that takes a more holistic view of the individual.

Humanism focuses on one’s potential and importance of growth and self-actualization. The fundamental belief of humanistic psychology is that people are innately good and that mental and social problems result from deviations from this natural tendency. Humanism also suggests that people possess personal agency and that they are motivated to use this free will to pursue things that will help them achieve their full potential as human beings. This need for fulfillment and personal growth is a key motivator of all behavior. People are continually looking for new ways to grow, to become better, to learn new things, and to experience psychological growth and self-actualization. People are believed to have more control over their mental state, while the environment is taken into account for one’s behavior and decisions.

I think that humans do learn from conditioning and observing, but that only does not contribute to our behavior. In my view, both Humanism and Behaviorism have relevance to the understanding of personal behaviors and mental processes.



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