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The Second Force

Behavioral Theorylearning 1
The Second Force

Behaviorists use the basic principles of learning when determining personality development. The concept of behaviorism suggests that all behavior is in response to environmental stimuli and that the responses to various stimuli are learned from past experience and are dictated by present circumstance. Unlike psychoanalytical and trait theorists, behaviorists study only observable behavior. Introduced by John B. Watson, explanations of personality focus solely on learning.

Behaviorism has been described as learning, the relatively permanent behavioral change and further indicated that as one experiences change perceptions of environmental situations change. John Watson was the first to study people and how the process of learning affects our behavior and in turn our personalities. Watson’s experiment with Lil Albert concluded that humans could be classically conditioned as were Pavlov’s dogs.

The central idea behind behaviorism is that only observable behaviors are researchable, inner thoughts and emotions are private and to subjective. Feldman also discussed B. F. Skinner’s belief that people’s personalities are developed because of the responses derived from consequence. Skinner believed because people learn in social situations that social situations will contribute to and shape personalities. Skinner did not agree with Freudian theory that personality fully developed in childhood. Skinner was firm on his belief that behavior and personality will always change according to the consequence of the social situation.


Veronica Emilia Nuzzolo, MED

Bernstein, D.A. & Nash, P.W. (2008). Essentials of psychology (4th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Feldman, R. (2013). Essentials of understanding psychology (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Friedman, H.S. & Schustack, M.W. (2012), Personality: classic theories and modern research (5th ed). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
Ryckman, R. M. (2013). Theories of personality (10th ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

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