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"[H]istorical precursor of modern cognitive psychology" (Martinez, 2010, p. 6).

"[A]nalysis of behavior rather than thoughts or feelings" (Martinez, 2010, p. 6).

"The behaviorist is interested only in what can be observed directly" (Martinez, 2010, p. 6).


Ivan Pavlov

  • Classical Conditioning
  • S-R (stimulus & response)
  • After ringing a bell (stimulus) dogs began to salivate (response).

John Watson

Edward Thorndike

  • Instrumental Conditioning (pre-cursor to Operant Conditioning)
  • Cat in the box experiment

B. F. Skinner

  • Operant Conditioning
  • S-R-R (stimulus, response, reinforcement)


"To a behaviorist, conditioning is a synonym for learning, which in turn, refers to a change in behavior." (Martinez, 2010, p. 7).

Classical Conditioning

"Classical conditioning is primarily associated with Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov"  (Martinez, 2010, p. 7).

Classical conditioning can be simplified as stimulusresponse or S-R.

Pavlov was conducting experiments which focused on saliva production in dogs. There was an unconditioned response identified between the amount of saliva a dog produced which corresponded the amount of dog food the dog received. The discovery that Pavlov made was that after a dog had been participating in Pavlov's experiment for a period of time that were salivating prior to receiving the dog food. Pavlov wondered what could be the explanation for this phenomenon. He then proceeded to prove that the condition was the result of a non-related stimulus, that of footsteps as the researcher walked down the hall to where the dogs were kept. What Pavlov hypothesized is that the dogs had become conditioned to respond to the non-related stimulus of the footsteps. It was this hypothesis that led Pavlov to his theory of classical conditioning.

Instrumental Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

The S-R-R paradigm. StimulusResponseReinforcement

"In Skinner's theory, reinforcement is any consequence that leads to the repetition of a behavior" (Martinez, 2010, p. 14).

Successive Approximations: "over time behavior evolves gradually toward successively greater approximations of its ideal form. A related term, shaping describes the actions of a trainer or teacher to evoke more effective behavior over time" (Martinez, 2010, p. 15).