What does the behavioral model focus on more than the psychoanalytic and humanistic traditions?

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Behavioral psychology is a branch of psychology that seeks to explain how the way people behave is a product of their environment. Environmental factors, known as stimuli, affect our behavior and solicit what behaviorists call a response. These responses and what stimuli caused them are of interest to behavioral psychologists. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are two major perspectives in behavioral psychology. Classical conditioning is a process where two stimuli are repeatedly paired in order to solicit a behavior response. The Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov discovered this phenomenon when he noticed that dogs would salivate when they were fed but also when other stimuli appeared, for instance, when they heard someone coming to feed them. Operant conditioning, developed by B. F. Skinner, focuses on rewards and punishments and their relation to behavior. We will repeat behavior we are rewarded for and avoid behavior that precedes punishment.

The psychoanalytic perspective has a different emphasis. The focus here is on the unconscious mind and how early memories and childhood experiences influence our behavior. The humanist perspective challenges both the psychoanalytic perspective and behaviorism by focusing on people’s free will and agency.

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Based on principles of learning and conditioning, the behavioral model has had an important and lasting impact on our understanding of psychopathology. The behavioral model focuses more on PRECISE MEASUREMENT than the psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches. 

The behavioral model emerged through the foundational work of Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner - and posits all behavior to be a response to environmental and social stimulus. Since the emphasis on learning is directed away from internal mental processes - it is only observable and measurable (bodily) acts that have analytical significance. Therefore, psychopathologies can be corrected with the two techniques: classical conditioning (where an existing response elicited by one stimulus is transferred to a new stimulus) and operant conditioning (where responses are strengthened or weakened through positive or negative reinforcement). Given the desire to isolate the effects of these particular techniques on learning, behavioralist methods favor laboratory settings which allow for greater control over variables, objectivity, and precision in measurements. 

 

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