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Behavioral Psychology

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Behavioral Psychology is a branch of the study of the human mind that classifies nearly all of the human mental patterns and processes along the lines of behavior, that which can be observed, tested, and repeated in an experimental or clinical environment. This school of Psychology is generally based in the work of the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, and the American psychologist BF Skinner (, 2007 [online]). The Behavioral Psychology School is controversial for its rejection of the inner dimensions of mind as a subject of inquiry or a matter of validity. Nevertheless, much of what we know and consider as psychology in the West is based in Behaviorism, attesting to the vast influence of Behavioral Psychology in the Academic environment in America. Behavioral Psychology is sometimes also known as Institutional, Industrial, or Commercial Psychology. The development of this branch of Behavioral Psychology can also be found in the standard classification of mental diseases in the BDSM-III and the prescription drug medicines proliferating in society today.


Ivan Pavlov worked to found Behavioral Psychology in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, conducting experiments with animals such as dogs and rats, studying the way behavioral patterns were created through training, and their relation to biological processes, such as instinct and reflex. Pavlov’s work in Behavioral Psychology combined elements of medicine, psychology, surgery, and philosophy, and his writings had a wide spread influence. He is largely credited with founding the study of the role of “conditioning” in Behavioral Psychology. A classic example of Behavioral Psychology is Pavlov training dogs to respond to the ringing of a bell. After associating the food of dogs with the sound of a bell, he found that even if food was not present, the dogs would remember the association. When they heard the bell, over time, even if food was not given, the dogs would salivate, become excited, expectant, etc. at the perception of the stimulus (, 2007 [online]). This began a widespread movement in the study of human and animal conditioning in the Behavioral Psychology that emerged related to the work of Ivan Pavlov.


BF Skinner is associated with an even more radical behaviorism than posited in traditional Behavioral Psychology. It is through his work in Behavioral Psychology that we have the basis of a materialistic approach to the study of consciousness, with the workings of different parts of the brain associated with different aspects of thinking, as well as the development of pharmaceuticals to treat mental illnesses. In his main work, “The Behavior of Organisms” (1938) Skinner followed the work of Pavlov in Behavioral Psychology working with mice. He wrote about Behavioral Psychology experiments with mice learning through positive and negative stimuli and repeated manipulation of variables in limited events settings such as a controlled environment. Rats could be conditioned to learn to manipulate levers, receiving stimuli such as food (positive) and electrical shocks (negative). The practitioner of Behavioral Psychology can study the process of learning, the application of stimuli, positive and negative controls, to map a subject’s behavior patterns (, 2007 [online]). This was then extended to human psychology with more wide reaching conclusions and applications industrially made by researchers in Behavioral Psychology.


Behavioral Psychology or Behaviorism became the acceptable way to approach the study of the human mind by scientific methods, and its adherents began to dominate the Academic institutions of America, in comparison to the Freudian and Jungian influence that was more prevalent in Europe. In comparison with other psychologies, the scope and influence of Behavioral Psychology is wide spread, particularly in mass media and communication, as well as medical advances in psychological treatment techniques.


1. URL .

Last accessed 10 November 2007.


2. URL medicine/pavlov/readmore.html .

Last accessed 10 November 2007.


3. URL .

Last accessed 10 November 2007.

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