Behaviorism Vs Cognitivism Essay Examples

Comparing the Behavioral Perspective and the Cognitive Perspective

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Comparing the Behavioral Perspective and the Cognitive Perspective      The behavioral perspective is the idea that if psychology was to be a science, then it must focus on events, which are directly observable on behavior, rather than on mental life. The behavioral perspective maintains the primary emphasis on observable behavior and its relation to environmental events. Behavioral perspective is through reinforcement, which is the idea that patterns of emitted behavior can be selected by their consequences. Cognitive perspective is centered on the description of the nature and development of the representation of knowledge. It comes from three points of view, which are the theory of information processing, the inability of behaviorism to provide a comprehensive account for all aspects of human behavior, and the invention of the computer.
     Behavioral perspective is the theory that the majority of all behavior is learned from the environment after birth. Freewill is considered to be an illusion, because our environment determines behavior. Behaviorists believe that only behavior should be observed, not our minds, since we cannot see into other people’s minds. There is no way to know if a person is honestly answering a question so it is irrelevant. Behaviorists use strict laboratory experiments, usually on animals, such as rats or pigeons. They test animals because the laws of learning are universal, there are only a quantitative difference between animals and humans, and animals are practically and ethically more convenient to test.
     Cognitive psychologists think that mental processes should and can be investigated scientifically.

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Methodologies         Assumptions         Information Processing         Behavioral         Other People         Human Behavior         Reinforcement         Discover         Psychologists         Rats        

Models of psychological functions can be proposed, and these models can be carried out to confirm, refute, or modify them by testing observable behavior and conscious report. Cognitive processes actively organize and manipulate information we receive. Most cognitive psychologists use a nomothetic approach to discover human cognitive processes. Some have also adopted idiographic techniques such as laboratory experiments and case studies.



haviorist VS Cognitive


Learning is the “relatively permanent change in behavior”

(Burns, R., 2002)

andcan come in the form of observable activities and internal processes.Explanations of what happens when these actions occur are known as learningtheories. These theories include behaviorist, cognitivist, humanist, social learningand constructivist. In this essay behaviorist and cognitivists will be described,compared and contrasted in order to truly understand their approaches.


The behaviorist approach attempts to study learning and behavior within ascientific tradition and was developed by John B. Watson in the early 20


century. Three assumptions set out its notions: The focus of study is generallyobservable behavior, the environment shapes behavior, and the principles of contiguity and reinforcement are essential in explaining the learning process

(Grippin, P., & Peters, S., 1984).

Behaviorists maintain the assumption that we see and experience the worldexactly as it presents itself physically, for everyone. This therefore leads to thenotion that everything functions according to natural laws, and any changeoccurring is due to a cause and effect. Hence, this theory focuses on howenvironmental stimuli elicit behavior and responses.


Gestalt’s views of Bode, Wertheimer, Kohler, Koffka and Lewin later criticised thebehaviorist theory in 1929, through publications. These psychologists proposed“looking at the whole rarther than its parts, and at patterns instead of isolatedevents”

(Ormrod, J. E., 1995)


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