3 Evaluate two strengths and two weaknesses of the behaviourist approach One strength of the behaviourist approach is that it is scientific in its nature. This is because this approach is very scientific with everything proven and supported by lab experiments. Behaviourist believe that through the use of scientific methods, we can analyse and compare behaviour. Control over variables can see cause and effect. Behaviour should be studied objectively and variables should be operationalized (breaking it down to simple factors) There are a number of different examples of the cientific nature of the behaviourist approach.
Pavlov work on dogs was a scientific experiment and was conducted objectively. By operationalizing variables such as the sound of the bell he was able to conclude that classical conditioning could be used develop new behaviour. Banduras work was conducted under lap experiments. One of yhr most scientific methods whereby the children were assigned to experimental conditions (aggressive group) or control group (non aggressive) by changing the variables Bandura could conclude that aggression was due to SLT. Another strength f the behaviourist approach is that it has been successfully applied in society.
Most importantly in the treatment of mental disorders and in education. In education operant conditioning underlies successful teaching techniques. Positive reinforcement and punishment have helped to shape behaviours in the classroom. Classical conditioning principles are applied in systematic desensitisation to help people who suffering from phobias. There are a number of different examples of successful applications of the behaviourist approach. Skinner applied the principles f operant conditioning to teaching and designing a mechanical programmed instruction device.
Skinner believed that the classroom teaching was often ineffective because different students learn at different rates and reinforcement are therefore variable to be effective. Reinforcement are also delayed due to the lack of individual attention. One weakness of the behaviourist approach is that it more relevant to animals than humans’ because SD was initially developed in research with animals. Wolpe created a phobia in cats by placing them in cages and giving them electric shocks. He then found that he could reduce this learned anxiety by placing food in the cages.
Behaviourism has its roots in experiments with non-human animals such as research by Pavlov and skinner. For example human anxiety may not always respond in the same way. Wolpe treated one women for fear of insects and found SD did not cure her phobia. It turned out that her husband with whom she had not been getting along with, was nicknamed after an insect. So her fear was not the results of conditioning, but a means of representing her marital problems; Wolpe recommended marital counselling which succeeded where SD failed.
Another weakness of the behaviourist approach is reductionist as it only focuses on simple environmental factors that influence human behaviour. This is because this approach believes that all human behaviour is determined by environmental factors therefore emphasis the nurture argument. Classical and operant conditioning are the core assumptions that influence human behaviour. It reduces the human behaviour to basic human elements. It ignores all biological and cognitive factors for personality and behaviour. There are a number of different examples of the eductionist nature of the behaviourist approach.
It is very difficult to explain the cases of some mental disorders, such as depression. Biological and cognitive approach may be more successful in explaining these behaviours. The biological approach argues that depression is due to low levels of serotonin and the cognitive approach argues that it is due to irrational thoughts controlled by our mental processes. In addition the role of external factors (nurture) is exaggerated within this approach. Our behaviour is governed by many internal factors such as motivation and emotion and innate abilities.