The Science of Psychology Psychology is defined as “the scientific study of the behavior of
individuals and their mental processes supported by research”. The
word psychology itself is derived from two Latin roots- “psyche”
meaning mind and “logos” meaning study. It emerged as a separate
discipline around 1879. However, unlike the other sciences, it is far
from straightforward as its main field of study is the mind, which is
an intangible object. Due to this, there have been several different
approaches to psychology, the most important being structuralism,
functionalism, Gestalt, behaviorism, etc. The approach that deals with
learning is behaviorism.
Behaviorism was a movement in psychology and philosophy that
emphasized the outward behavioral aspects of thought and dismissed the
inward experiential aspects. It was proposed in 1913 by John B.
Watson, who is known as the founder of behaviorism. Behaviorists are
mainly concerned with the manner in which organisms learn or modify
their behavior on the basis of the environment. They have defined
learning as “a relatively permanent change in behavior which occurs as
a result of experience” and the main assumption of this approach is
that all behavior is learnt. The two main theories behind learning are
Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning.
Classical conditioning was the first type of learning to be discovered
and studied within the behaviorist tradition. The basic assumption of
Classical conditioning is that all behavior is learnt by association.
It has its roots in Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s famous
experiment with dogs and is thus also known as ”Pavlovian
conditioning”. He was successful in making the dogs salivate at the
sound of a bell by pairing its ringing with their food. Four important
concepts in classical conditioning are unconditioned and conditioned
stimulus and unconditioned and conditioned response. Stimuli that
animals react to without training are called primary or unconditioned
stimuli (UCS). They include food, pain, and other "hardwired" or
"instinctive" stimuli. For example, animals do not have to learn to
react to an electric shock. Pavlov's dogs did not need to learn to
salivate at the sight of food as this response was merely reflexive.
Stimuli that animals react to only after learning about them are
called secondary or conditioned stimuli (CS). These are stimuli that
have been associated with a primary stimulus. In Pavlov's experiment,
the sound of the bell meant nothing to the dogs at first. After its
sound was associated with the presentation of food, it became a