Behaviorism is the study of human behavior and is based on the belief that all human behavior is learned. Behaviorism evolved during the 19th century and took hold in the early years of the 20th century. Notable behaviorists include Albert Bandura, Ivan Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, Edward Lee Thorndike, Edward C. Tolman, and John B. Watson. These men opposed the study of consciousness believing that psychology should instead focus on only what could be seen, heard, or touched. The result was a science of behavior that viewed human beings as machines (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). This paper offers a discussion of the evolution of behaviorism, the contributions of Albert Bandura, and the impact of behaviorism on modern psychology and life in the 21st century.
The major schools of thought which preceded behaviorism were structuralism and functionalism. Structuralism is considered the first school of psychology. Its focus was to break down mental processes into basic components, in trying to understand the elements of consciousness through introspection (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). From this form of new psychology on the structure of consciousness came functionalism which changed the focus to the functions of consciousness. Functionalism is concerned with how the mind functions, or how it is used by an organism to adapt to its environment. Functionalists studied the mind as a conglomerate or accumulation of functions and processes that lead to practical consequences in the real world (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). With the focuses of structuralism and functionalism being that of consciousness, mind, and soul behaviorism differs, in that its focus is on observable behaviors. With the irrelevance of consciousness to behaviorism a new form of psychology had been formed.
Albert Bandura (1925 – present) was born on December 4th in the small town of Mundare in northern Alberta, Canada. He received his bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 1949. He then continued on to the University of Iowa, where he received his Ph. D. in 1952. In 1953 he accepted a teaching position at Stanford and continues on there still today. The concepts brought forth by Bandura that will be addressed are observational learning and self-efficacy,
Observational Learning: A condition in which learning takes place by watching the actions of others (Schacter, Gilbert, & Wegner, 2009). In this process, learning occurs when individuals observe and imitate others’ behavior. In 1961 Bandura joined up with Dorrie and Sheila Ross with their now famous experiment with the Bobo doll to see how learning was related to aggression. At the time, thoughts of aggression in children were subject by “the Freudian view that such behavior was the product of intrapsychic forces operating largely unconsciously. Students’ aggression on the playground or in school was seen as a recurring expression of underlying impulses requiring release in minimally detrimental ways”...