Behavior Learning: Theories & Concept

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  • 0:00 What Is Behavior?
  • 1:10 Behaviorist Theories
  • 3:33 Operant Conditioning
  • 4:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Theresa Spanella

Theresa has taught college Writing for 15 years and is two classes from completing a doctorate in Education

Most of us have been rewarded for the good things we have done but have been punished for the not-so-good things we have done. This lesson will explore behavior learning, highlighting the most common behavior learning theories and providing some real-world examples of behavior learning.

What Is Behavior?

Imagine seeing a television commercial for your favorite steakhouse. You just ate dinner; you're not at all hungry. But suddenly, your mouth begins to water. You want a steak, but you're not hungry! Why is that?

Behavior is a person's (or any other living organism's) response to stimuli. In this case, the stimulus is steak. The response, salivation, is a behavior. Unlike what happens in the brain, behavior is physical and observable. Behaviorism is a form of social psychology that studies behavior. Behaviorists believe that behavior is shaped by our environment - that our actions are driven by our desires to gain rewards and avoid punishments.

Behavior learning is the theory that behavior can be changed or learned through reinforcement, either positive or negative, by the introduction of a stimulus. Positive reinforcement is giving someone what they want (like a steak) to reward them for good behavior. Negative reinforcement is taking something away that a person wants to punish them for not-so-good behavior.

Behaviorist Theories

Several social psychologists studied behavior and identified different theories on how behaviors can be learned and/or changed through reinforcement. They called this conditioning.

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