Behaviourist Terminology


Emphasis of connection between environment and behaviour
Ignores (in comparison) mental activities and psychological processes
Adjusting the environment alters behaviour
There is stimulus (in) and behaviour (out)
There is a big emphasis on learning: measurable inputs and outputs
It looks for the simplest seen causal relationship

Some Concepts:

Law of Effect
(E. L. Thorndike, 1874-1949):
A response satisfying to the organism is likely to be repeated
Stimulus (S) and Response (R)
(J. B. Watson, 1878-1958):
Knowing, measuring and controlling the stimulus and observing accurately the response
Classical conditioning
(I. P. Pavlov, 1849-1936):
A once neutral stimulus with no more than an attentive response or an unconditioned response becomes trained into a conditioned predictable response
Unconditioned stimulus/ response: Produces a basic untrained expected response, a starting point to
Neutral stimulus: Produces no more than attention
Conditioned stimulus/ response: Pairings that give one trained response to a stimulus
Extinction: Ending the conditioned response
Spontaneous recovery: The conditioned response returns after a lapse
Higher order conditioning
A conditioned stimulus is a new starting point for another higher conditioned stimulus and a suggestion of language learning
Operant conditioning
(Thorndike origins; Watson; B. F. Skinner, 1904-1990):
Voluntary and active changing responses as a result of previous con sequences
Stimulus to reinforce an increase the frequency of response
Reinforcement: The process the stimulant employs
Primary reinforcer: Stimulus connected to basic biological need
Conditioned reinforcer: Learnt reinforcement connection to a stimulus
Negative reinforcer: Stimulus to reduce the frequency of response
Punishment: A process of following a response with a negative stimulus, though this may not decrease the response
Negative reinforcement: A process of removing the punishment to a behaviour in order to gain the desired response
Positive reinforcer: Stimulus after a response that increases that response later
Positive reinforcement: The process of increasing later response
Contingency of reinforcement: Describing how the reinforcer and response relate
Omission: Pausing or stopping a positive reinforcer
Shaping: A process of guidance to a new response, and precision of behaviour
Extinction: Response dropping with the reinforcing stimulus ending
Continuous reinforcement: Keeping the process of reinforcing stimulus after response going
Partial reinforcement: Sometimes stimulus after each response
Schedule of reinforcement: hen a reinforcer will follow a response
Fixed ratio schedule: The number of responses before a reinforcer Variable, fixed, interval
Discriminative stimulus: A stimulus to demonstrate what reinforcement is available
Non-contingent reinforcement: Reinforcers not linked to a response, so chance based reinforcing
Behaviour modification: Using techniques to steer away from abnormal behaviour
Autonomic conditioning
Altering biological regulative processes by operant reinforcers
Biofeedback: Information on the autonomic processes to assist reinforcers
Species-specific behaviour: Responses called instincts connected to a species
Critical period: Optimal periods for responses to stimulants
(Martin Seligman):
An organism is structured to produce a behaviour; little stimulus is needed
Prepared, unprepared, contraprepared (unlearnable): Self explanatory
Equipotentiality premise
(not Skinner!):
Equal responses to stimulating in all behaviours across all species (that is, no menial differences at all)
Ethology: Study of animals in their environments
Radical behaviourism
(Watson, Skinner):
Mental states are inaccessible to scientific methods


Adrian Worsfold