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Several definitions have been formulated to explain the concept of behaviorism. However, no single definition ultimately defines this broad term. Therefore, the best way to define it is to explain what it is all about. Essentially, behaviorism is all about equating learning with measurable and observable behaviors. It is imperative to note that reinforcement is crucial to the successful transfer through learning based on behaviors. This is aimed at creating emphasis on the three principles namely; stimulus, the response, and the connection that exist between them. For instance, when presented with a flash card showing the equation “3+4=?” the student replies with the answer “7.” The stimulus, in this case, is the equation, and the correct answer is the response. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how the relationship between the stimulus and the response is generated, reinforced, and maintained (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).

The Behaviorism theory was founded by John B. Watson in 1913. In the 19th century, similar views such as the gestalt and psychoanalytical movements in psychology were developed. In the 20th century, the cognitive revolution began. Finally, in the 21st century, the behavioral analysis is the most growing field. In addition to the above, some key concepts need to be explained in order to understand the origin of behaviorism. One of the key concepts is the functionalist movement, which was interested in understanding the function of the mind. The primary objectives of this movement were to comprehend the role of the mind, how it works, and the functions of consciousness (Bargh & Ferguson, 2000). As such, understanding the structure of the brain was essential. John B. Watson was critical of this movement since he emphasized on introspections. Watson considered that the theoretical goal of psychology was to predict and control behavior.

As well, three main behaviorist theorists are worth acknowledging. One of the most significant is Ivan Pavlov. He is the founder of the classical condition; unconditioned stimulus causes a unconditioned response. Pavlov presented a dog with meat and then the following time associated the meat with the bell. After a period, the dog could salivate on hearing the bell ring. The behavior learned here is salivation, and the stimulus was the ringing of the bell. Additionally, as earlier stated, John B. Watson played a crucial role in the development of behaviorism. He coined the term behaviorism, studied how particular stimulus led organisms to respond accordingly (Kalat, 2016). Finally, he firmly believed that psychology was the only objection observation of behavior. Lastly, B.F Skinner played a crucial role in the development of Radical behaviorism. He proposed that all actions are determined at not free and also developed the operant response. This is the behavior that controls the speed at which specific consequences occurs.

There are some principles that that are imperative in understanding an applying behaviorism. One of the most significant is the emphasis on production of measurable and observable outcomes. For instance, in the classical conditioning, the salivation of the dog could be measured and observed precisely. The issue principle is the pre-assessment to determine the start of the analysis. This is primarily applicable in the case of learning in students. The third principle is the emphasis on the need to master the previously learned steps (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). This is also referred to mastery learning that is essential in the process where steps become more complex with time. In addition to the above, there is a substantial emphasis on the need for reinforcement in the form of rewards and informative feedback. For instance, in a classroom setup, the teacher rewards the student that correctly answers a question. As such, the student wills never forgers the answer of the question because of the reinforcement. Finally, there is a great emphasis on the use of cues, practice, and shaping to guarantee that a strong stimulus association is achieved.

Consequently, it is imperative to note that cognitivism plays a vital role in learning. According to Ertmer & Newby; “Cognitive theories stress the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures and, as such, are closer to the rationalist end of the epistemology continuum” (Ertmer & Newby, 2013). This is a clear indication that learning is essentially considered as the change in the levels of knowledge more rather than the changes in the probability of the changes. The factors that influence learning as well play a crucial role. Cognitivism and behaviorism agree that environmental conditions are vital in the process of learning. One of the most common factors is the instructional explanations and illustrative examples. When the concept being taught is well explained, and illustrative examples are used the learner will be in a better position of comprehending these concepts. As well, there is substantial to an emphasis on the need for correctional practices that is associated with corrective feedback.

In conclusion, the concept of behaviorism is applicable in most of the real life issues. For instance, in a classroom setup, the teacher provides a substantial list of the practice problems to be solved by the learners in learning a topic such as Algebra. Therefore, the practice problems are the stimulus, the correct solution to the problem is the response, and learning is achieved through repetition of the Algebra.


Bargh, J. A., & Ferguson, M. J. (2000). Beyond behaviorism: on the automaticity of higher mental processes. Psychological bulletin, 126(6), 925.

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (2013). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 26(2), 43-71.

Kalat, J. (2016). Introduction to psychology. Cengage Learning.

Weegar, M. A., & Pacis, D. (2012). A Comparison of two theories of learning-behaviorism and constructivism as applied to face-to-face and online learning. E-Leader Manila.