1962 – Kalthoum Sarrai, Tunisian-French psychologist and journalist (d. 2010).
1958 – John B. Watson, American psychologist and academic (b. 1878).
2005 – Urie Bronfenbrenner, Russian-American psychologist and ecologist (b. 1917).
2005 – M. Scott Peck, American psychiatrist and author (b. 1936).
2013 – Bennet Wong, Canadian psychiatrist and academic, co-founded Haven Institute (b. 1930).
Kalthoum Sarrai كلثوم السراي in Arabic (25 September 1962 to 19 January 2010), best known as Cathy Sarrai, was a Tunisian-born French television presenter, anchorwoman and television personality. She was known to many French and Belgian television viewers for her role in the French version of Super Nanny, which began airing on M6 on 01 February 2005.
Sarrai was born in Tunis, Tunisia, on 25 September 1962, as one of seven children. She moved to France in 1979, where she studied child psychology before pursuing a successful career as a television presenter. Sarrai also authored three books, including an autobiography.
She began appearing on the French version of Super Nanny in 2005. The show, in which she taught parents basic child care and parenting techniques, attracted 3.7 million viewers in Belgium and France, making her a familiar personality on M6.
Kalthoum Sarrai died in Paris on Tuesday 19 January 2010, of cancer at the age of 47. She was buried in Tunis.
John B. Watson
ohn Broadus Watson (09 January 1878 to 25 September 1958) was an American psychologist who popularised the scientific theory of behaviourism, establishing it as a psychological school. Watson advanced this change in the psychological discipline through his 1913 address at Columbia University, titled Psychology as the Behaviourist Views It. Through his behaviourist approach, Watson conducted research on animal behaviour, child rearing, and advertising, as well as conducting the controversial “Little Albert” experiment and the Kerplunk experiment. He was also the editor of Psychological Review from 1910 to 1915. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Watson as the 17th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
Urie Bronfenbrenner (29 April 1917 to 25 September 2005) was a Russian-born American psychologist who is most known for his ecological systems theory. His work with the United States government helped in the formation of the Head Start programme in 1965. Bronfenbrenner’s ability research was key in changing the perspective of developmental psychology by calling attention to the large number of environmental and societal influences on child development.
M. Scott Peck
Morgan Scott Peck (22 May 1936 to 25 September 2005) was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author who wrote the book The Road Less Travelled, published in 1978.
Peck served in administrative posts in the government during his career as a psychiatrist. He also served in the US Army and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His army assignments included stints as chief of psychology at the Army Medical Centre in Okinawa, Japan, and assistant chief of psychiatry and neurology in the office of the surgeon general in Washington, DC. He was the medical director of the New Milford Hospital Mental Health Clinic and a psychiatrist in private practice in New Milford, Connecticut. His first and best-known book, The Road Less Travelled, sold more than 10 million copies.
Bennet Randall Wong (16 July 1930 to 25 September 2013), was a Canadian psychiatrist, author and lecturer who co-founded the Haven Institute, a residential experiential learning centre on the west coast of Canada, with Jock McKeen. His writings focused on mental illness, group psychotherapy, humanistic psychology and personal growth.
The Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) was founded in 1966.
Its headquarters are in New York City and its membership includes researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, social workers, marriage and family therapists, nurses, and other mental-health practitioners and students. These members support, use, and/or disseminate behavioural and cognitive approaches.
ABCT was founded in 1966 under the name Association for Advancement of Behavioural Therapies (AABT) by 10 behaviourists who were dissatisfied with the prevailing Freudian/psychoanalytic model (Its founding members include: John Paul Brady, Joseph Cautela, Edward Dengrove, Cyril Franks, Martin Gittelman, Leonard Krasner, Arnold Lazarus, Andrew Salter, Dorothy Susskind, and Joseph Wolpe). The Freudian/psychoanalytic model refers to the Id, Ego, and Superego within each individual as they interpret and interact with the world and those around them. Although the ABCT was not established until 1966, its history begins in the early 1900s with the birth of the behaviourist movement, which was brought about by Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, Thorndike, Hull, Mowrer, and others – scientists who, concerned primarily with observable behaviour, were beginning to experiment with conditioning and learning theory. By the 1950s, two entities – Hans Eysenck’s research group (which included one of AABT’s founders Cyril Franks) at the University of London Institute of Psychiatry, and Joseph Wolpe’s research group (which included another of AABT’s founders, Arnold Lazarus) in South Africa – were conducting important studies that would establish behaviour therapy as a science based on principles of learning. In complete opposition to the psychoanalytic model, “The seminal significance of behaviour therapy was the commitment to apply the principles and procedures of experimental psychology to clinical problems, to rigorously evaluate the effects of therapy, and to ensure that clinical practice was guided by such objective evaluation”.
The first president of the association was Cyril Franks, who also founded the organisation’s flagship journal Behaviour Therapy and was the first editor of the Association for Advancement of Behavioural Therapies Newsletter. The first annual meeting of the association took place in 1967, in Washington, DC, concurrent with the American Psychological Association’s meeting.
An article in the November 1967 issue of the Newsletter, entitled “Behaviour Therapy and Not Behaviour Therapies” (Wilson & Evans, 1967), influenced the association’s first name change from Association for Advancement of Behavioural Therapies to Association for Advancement of Behaviour Therapy because, as the authors argued, “the various techniques of behaviour therapy all derive from learning theory and should not be misinterpreted as different kinds of behaviour therapy…”. This issue remains a debate in the field and within the organization, particularly with the emergence of the term “cognitive behavioural therapies.” This resulted in yet another name change in 2005 to the Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies.
The Association for Advancement of Behavioural Therapies/Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies has been at the forefront of the professional, legal, social, and ethical controversies and dissemination efforts that have accompanied the field’s evolution. The 1970s was perhaps the most “explosive” and controversial decade for the field of behaviour therapy, as it suffered from an overall negative public image and received numerous attacks from the press regarding behaviour modification and its possible unethical uses. In Gerald Davison’s (AABT’s 8th president) public “Statement on Behaviour Modification from the AABT”, he asserted that “it is a serious mistake … to equate behaviour therapy with the use of electric shocks applied to the extremities…” and “a major contribution of behaviour therapy has been a profound commitment to full description of procedures and careful evaluation of their effects”. From this point, AABT became instrumental in enacting legislative guidelines that protected human research subjects, and they also became active in efforts to educate the public.
The ABCT is an interdisciplinary organisation committed to the advancement of a scientific approach to the understanding and amelioration of problems of the human condition. These aims are achieved through the investigation and application of behavioural, cognitive, prevention, and treatment. While primarily an interest group, ABCT is also active in:
Encouraging the development, study, and dissemination of scientific approaches to behavioural health.
Promoting the utilisation, expansion, and dissemination of behavioural, cognitive, and other empirically derived practices.
Facilitating professional development, interaction, and networking among members.
Through its membership, publications, convention and education committees, the ABCT conducts a variety of activities to support and disseminate the behavioural and cognitive therapies. The organization produces two quarterly journals, Behaviour Therapy (research-based) and Cognitive and Behavioural Practice (treatment focused), as well as its house periodical, the Behaviour Therapist (eight times per year). The association’s convention is held annually in November. ABCT also produces fact sheets, an assessment series, and training and archival videotapes. The association maintains a website on which can be found a “Find-a-Therapist” search engine and information about behavioural and cognitive therapies. The organisation provides its members with an online clinical directory, over 30 special interest groups, a list serve, a job bank, and an awards and recognition programme. Other offerings available on the website include sample course syllabi, listings of grants available, and a broad range of offerings of interest to mental health researchers.
Mental Health Professionals
The training of mental health professionals has also been a significant priority for the association. Along with its annual meeting, AABT created an “ad hoc review mechanism” in the 1970s through the 1980s whereby a state could receive a review of a behaviour therapy programme. This led to the yearly publication of a widely used resource, “The Directory of Training Programmes”. With growing concerns over quality control and standardisation of practice, the certification of behaviour therapists also became an issue in the 1970s. This debate led to the development of a Diplomate in behaviour therapy at APA and for those behavioural therapy practices from a more radical behavioural perspective, the development of certification in behaviour analysis at the master level.
An ongoing debate within the association concerns what many consider to be a movement away from basic behavioural science as the field has attempted to advance and integrate more and more “new” therapies/specialisations, particularly the addition of cognitive theory and its variety of techniques. John Forsyth, in his special issue of Behaviour Therapy] entitled “Thirty Years of Behaviour Therapy: Promises Kept, Promises Unfulfilled”, summarised this opposition as follows:
“(a) cognition is not behaviour, (b) behaviour principles and theory cannot account for events occurring within the skin, and most important, (c) we therefore need a unique conceptual system to account for how thinking, feeling, and other private events relate to overt human action”.
The field’s desire to maintain its scientific foundations and yet continue to advance and grow, was reflected in its most recent discussion about adding the word “cognitive” to the name of the association.
Many notable scholars have served as president of the association, including Joseph Wolpe, Arnold Lazarus, Nathan Azrin, Steven C. Hayes, and David Barlow. The current executive director of the ABCT is Mary Jane Eimer, CAE. For a wealth of historical specifics (governing bodies, lists of editors, past presidents, award winners, SIGs, and conventions from the past 40 years) see ABCT’s 40th anniversary issue of the Behaviour Therapist.
About Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies
Cognitive and behavioural therapists help people learn to actively cope with, confront, reformulate, and/or change the maladaptive cognitions, behaviours, and symptoms that limit their ability to function, cause emotional distress, and accompany the wide range of mental health disorders. Goal-oriented, time-limited, research-based, and focused on the present, the cognitive and behavioural approach is collaborative. This approach values feedback from the client, and encourages the client to play an active role in setting goals and the overall course and pace of treatment. Importantly, behavioural interventions are characterized by a “direct focus on observable behaviour”. Practitioners teach clients concrete skills and exercises – from breathing retraining, to keeping thought records to behavioural rehearsal – to practice at home and in sessions, with the overall goal of optimal functioning and the ability to engage in life fully.
Because cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on broad principles of human learning and adaptation, it can be used to accomplish a wide variety of goals. CBT has been applied to issues ranging from depression and anxiety, to the improvement of the quality of parenting, relationships, and personal effectiveness.
Numerous scientific studies and research have documented the helpfulness of CBT programmes for a wide range of concerns throughout the lifespan. These concerns include children’s behaviour problems, health promotion, weight management, pain management, sexual dysfunction, stress, violence and victimisation, serious mental illness, relationship issues, academic problems, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, social phobia, school refusal and school phobia, hair pulling (trichotillomania) and much more. Cognitive-behavioural treatments are subject randomised controlled trials and “have been subjected to more rigorous evaluation using randomised controlled trials than any of the other psychological therapies”. There is discussion of using technology to determine diagnosis and host interventions according to research done by W. Edward Craighead. This would be done using “genetic analysis” and “neuroimaging” to create more individualised treatment plans.
Special Interest Groups
The ABCT has more than 40 special interest groups for its members. These include groups for issues involving African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and other ethnic groups such as children and adolescents; couples; gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people; students; military personnel; and the criminal justice system. The ABCT works within these groups to overcome addictive behaviours and mental illnesses that may cause negativity in these groups life. A group that the ABCT has supported well is the special interest group of the criminal justice system. The ABCT helps provide the prison system with knowledge of how to more humanely treat those who committed crimes and give people the proper care and attention to become great citizens.
The behavioural analysis of child development originates from John B. Watson’s behaviourism.
In 1948, Sidney Bijou took a position as associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington and served as director of the university’s Institute of Child Development. Under his leadership, the Institute added a child development clinic and nursery school classrooms where they conducted research that would later accumulate into the are that would be called “Behaviour Analysis of Child Development”. Skinner’s behavioural approach and Kantor’s interbehavioural approach were adopted in Bijou and Baer’s model. They created a three-stage model of development (basic, foundational, and societal). Bijou and Baer looked at these socially determined stages, as opposed to organising behaviour into change points or cusps (behavioural cusp). In the behavioural model, development is considered a behavioural change. It is dependent on the kind of stimulus and the person’s behavioural and learning function. Behaviour analysis in child development takes a mechanistic, contextual, and pragmatic approach.
From its inception, the behavioural model has focused on prediction and control of the developmental process. The model focuses on the analysis of a behaviour and then synthesizes the action to support the original behaviour. The model was changed after Richard J. Herrnstein studied the matching law of choice behaviour developed by studying of reinforcement in the natural environment. More recently, the model has focused more on behaviour over time and the way that behavioural responses become repetitive. it has become concerned with how behaviour is selected over time and forms into stable patterns of responding. A detailed history of this model was written by Pelaez. In 1995, Henry D. Schlinger, Jr. provided the first behaviour analytic text since Bijou and Baer comprehensively showed how behaviour analysis – a natural science approach to human behaviour – could be used to understand existing research in child development. In addition, the quantitative behavioural developmental model by Commons and Miller is the first behavioural theory and research to address notion similar to stage.
The methods used to analyse behaviour in child development are based on several types of measurements. Single-subject research with a longitudinal study follow-up is a commonly-used approach. Current research is focused on integrating single-subject designs through meta-analysis to determine the effect sizes of behavioural factors in development. Lag sequential analysis has become popular for tracking the stream of behaviour during observations. Group designs are increasingly being used. Model construction research involves latent growth modelling to determine developmental trajectories and structural equation modelling. Rasch analysis is now widely used to show sequentially within a developmental trajectory.
A recent methodological change in the behavioural analytic theory is the use of observational methods combined with lag sequential analysis can determine reinforcement in the natural setting.
Quantitative Behavioural Development
The model of hierarchical complexity is a quantitative analytic theory of development. This model offers an explanation for why certain tasks are acquired earlier than others through developmental sequences and gives an explanation of the biological, cultural, organisational, and individual principles of performance. It quantifies the order of hierarchical complexity of a task based on explicit and mathematical measurements of behaviour.
Contingencies, Uncertainty, and Attachment
The behavioural model of attachment recognises the role of uncertainty in an infant and the child’s limited communication abilities. Contingent relationships are instrumental in the behaviour analytic theory, because much emphasis is put on those actions that produce parents’ responses.
The importance of contingency appears to be highlighted in other developmental theories, but the behavioural model recognises that contingency must be determined by two factors:
The efficiency of the action; and
That efficiency compared to other tasks that the infant might perform at that point.
Both infants and adults function in their environments by understanding these contingent relationships. Research has shown that contingent relationships lead to emotionally satisfying relationships.
Since 1961, behavioural research has shown that there is relationship between the parents’ responses to separation from the infant and outcomes of a “stranger situation.”. In a study done in 2000, six infants participated in a classic reversal design (refer to single-subject research) study that assessed infant approach rate to a stranger. If attention was based on stranger avoidance, the infant avoided the stranger. If attention was placed on infant approach, the infant approached the stranger.
Recent meta-analytic studies of this model of attachment based on contingency found a moderate effect of contingency on attachment, which increased to a large effect size when the quality of reinforcement was considered. Other research on contingency highlights its effect on the development of both pro-social and anti-social behaviour. These effects can also be furthered by training parents to become more sensitive to children’s behaviours, Meta-analytic research supports the notion that attachment is operant-based learning.
An infant’s sensitivity to contingencies can be affected by biological factors and environment changes. Studies show that being placed in erratic environments with few contingencies may cause a child to have conduct problems and may lead to depression (see Behavioural Development and Depression below). Research continues to look at the effects of learning-based attachment on moral development. Some studies have shown that erratic use of contingencies by parents early in life can produce devastating long-term effects for the child.
Since Watson developed the theory of behaviourism, behaviour analysts have held that motor development represents a conditioning process. This holds that crawling, climbing, and walking displayed by infants represents conditioning of biologically innate reflexes. In this case, the reflex of stepping is the respondent behaviour and these reflexes are environmentally conditioned through experience and practice. This position was criticised by maturation theorists. They believed that the stepping reflex for infants actually disappeared over time and was not “continuous”. By working with a slightly different theoretical model, while still using operant conditioning, Esther Thelen was able to show that children’s stepping reflex disappears as a function of increased physical weight. However, when infants were placed in water, that same stepping reflex returned. This offered a model for the continuity of the stepping reflex and the progressive stimulation model for behaviour analysts.
Infants deprived of physical stimulation or the opportunity to respond were found to have delayed motor development. Under conditions of extra stimulation, the motor behaviour of these children rapidly improved. Some research has shown that the use of a treadmill can be beneficial to children with motor delays including Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Research on opportunity to respond and the building of motor development continues today.
The behavioural development model of motor activity has produced a number of techniques, including operant-based biofeedback to facilitate development with success. Some of the stimulation methods such as operant-based biofeedback have been applied as treatment to children with cerebral palsy and even spinal injury successfully. Brucker’s group demonstrated that specific operant conditioning-based biofeedback procedures can be effective in establishing more efficient use of remaining and surviving central nervous system cells after injury or after birth complications (like cerebral palsy). While such methods are not a cure and gains tend to be in the moderate range, they do show ability to enhance functioning.
Imitation and Verbal Behavior
Behaviourists have studied verbal behaviour since the 1920s. E.A. Esper (1920) studied associative models of language, which has evolved into the current language interventions of matrix training and recombinative generalisation. Skinner (1957) created a comprehensive taxonomy of language for speakers. Baer, along with Zettle and Haynes (1989), provided a developmental analysis of rule-governed behaviour for the listener. and for the listener Zettle and Hayes (1989) with Don Baer providing a developmental analysis of rule-governed behaviour. According to Skinner, language learning depends on environmental variables, which can be mastered by a child through imitation, practice, and selective reinforcement including automatic reinforcement.
B.F. Skinner was one of the first psychologists to take the role of imitation in verbal behaviour as a serious mechanism for acquisition. He identified echoic behaviour as one of his basic verbal operants, postulating that verbal behaviour was learned by an infant from a verbal community. Skinner’s account takes verbal behaviour beyond an intra-individual process to an inter-individual process. He defined verbal behaviour as “behaviour reinforced through the mediation of others”. Noam Chomsky refuted Skinner’s assumptions.
In the behavioural model, the child is prepared to contact the contingencies to “join” the listener and speaker. At the very core, verbal episodes involve the rotation of the roles as speaker and listener. These kinds of exchanges are called conversational units and have been the focus of research at Columbia’s communication disorders department.
Conversational units is a measure of socialisation because they consist of verbal interactions in which the exchange is reinforced by both the speaker and the listener. H.C. Chu (1998) demonstrated contextual conditions for inducing and expanding conversational units between children with autism and non-handicapped siblings in two separate experiments. The acquisition of conversational units and the expansion of verbal behaviour decrease incidences of physical “aggression” in the Chu study and several other reviews suggest similar effects. The joining of the listener and speaker progresses from listener speaker rotations with others as a likely precedent for the three major components of speaker-as-own listener – say so correspondence, self-talk conversational units, and naming.
Development of Self
Robert Kohelenberg and Mavis Tsai (1991) created a behaviour analytic model accounting for the development of one’s “self”. Their model proposes that verbal processes can be used to form a stable sense of who we are through behavioural processes such as stimulus control. Kohlenberg and Tsai developed functional analytic psychotherapy to treat psychopathological disorders arising from the frequent invalidations of a child’s statements such that “I” does not emerge. Other behaviour analytic models for personality disorders exist. They trace out the complex biological-environmental interaction for the development of avoidant and borderline personality disorders. They focus on Reinforcement sensitivity theory, which states that some individuals are more or less sensitive to reinforcement than others. Nelson-Grey views problematic response classes as being maintained by reinforcing consequences or through rule governance.
Over the last few decades, studies have supported the idea that contingent use of reinforcement and punishment over extended periods of time lead to the development of both pro-social and anti-social behaviours. However research has shown that reinforcement is more effective than punishment when teaching behaviour to a child. It has also been shown that modelling is more effective than “preaching” in developing pro-social behaviour in children. Rewards have also been closely studied in relation to the development of social behaviours in children. The building of self-control, empathy, and cooperation has all implicated rewards as a successful tactic, while sharing has been strongly linked with reinforcement.
The development of social skills in children is largely affected in that classroom setting by both teachers and peers. Reinforcement and punishment play major roles here as well. Peers frequently reinforce each other’s behaviour. One of the major areas that teachers and peers influence is sex-typed behaviour, while peers also largely influence modes of initiating interaction, and aggression. Peers are more likely to punish cross-gender play while at the same time reinforcing play specific to gender. Some studies found that teachers were more likely to reinforce dependent behaviour in females.
Behavioural principles have also been researched in emerging peer groups, focusing on status. Research shows that it takes different social skills to enter groups than it does to maintain or build one’s status in groups. Research also suggests that neglected children are the least interactive and aversive, yet remain relatively unknown in groups. Children suffering from social problems do see an improvement in social skills after behaviour therapy and behaviour modification (refer to applied behaviour analysis). Modelling has been successfully used to increase participation by shy and withdrawn children. Shaping of socially desirable behaviour through positive reinforcement seems to have some of the most positive effects in children experiencing social problems.
In the development of anti-social behaviour, aetiological models for anti-social behaviour show considerable correlation with negative reinforcement and response matching (refer to matching law). Escape conditioning, through the use of coercive behaviour, has a powerful effect on the development and use of future anti-social tactics. The use of anti-social tactics during conflicts can be negatively reinforced and eventually seen as functional for the child in moment to moment interactions. Anti-social behaviours will also develop in children when imitation is reinforced by social approval. If approval is not given by teachers or parents, it can often be given by peers. An example of this is swearing. Imitating a parent, brother, peer, or a character on TV, a child may engage in the anti-social behaviour of swearing. Upon saying it they may be reinforced by those around them which will lead to an increase in the anti-social behaviour. The role of stimulus control has also been extensively explored in the development of anti-social behaviour. Recent behavioural focus in the study of anti-social behaviour has been a focus on rule-governed behaviour. While correspondence for saying and doing has long been an interest for behaviour analysts in normal development and typical socialisation, recent conceptualisations have been built around families that actively train children in anti-social rules, as well as children who fail to develop rule control.
Developmental Depression with Origins in Childhood
Behavioural theory of depression was outlined by Charles Ferster. A later revision was provided by Peter Lewisohn and Hyman Hops. Hops continued the work on the role of negative reinforcement in maintaining depression with Anthony Biglan. Additional factors such as the role of loss of contingent relations through extinction and punishment were taken from early work of Martin Seligman. The most recent summary and conceptual revisions of the behavioural model was provided by Johnathan Kanter. The standard model is that depression has multiple paths to develop. It can be generated by five basic processes, including: lack or loss of positive reinforcement, direct positive or negative reinforcement for depressive behaviour, lack of rule-governed behaviour or too much rule-governed behaviour, and/or too much environmental punishment. For children, some of these variables could set the pattern for lifelong problems. For example, a child whose depressive behaviour functions for negative reinforcement by stopping fighting between parents could develop a lifelong pattern of depressive behaviour in the case of conflicts. Two paths that are particularly important are:
Lack or loss of reinforcement because of missing necessary skills at a developmental cusp point; or
The failure to develop adequate rule-governed behaviour.
For the latter, the child could develop a pattern of always choosing the short-term small immediate reward (i.e. escaping studying for a test) at the expense of the long-term larger reward (passing courses in middle school). The treatment approach that emerged from this research is called behavioural activation.
In addition, use of positive reinforcement has been shown to improve symptoms of depression in children. Reinforcement has also been shown to improve the self-concept in children with depression comorbid with learning difficulties. Rawson and Tabb (1993) used reinforcement with 99 students (90 males and 9 females) aged from 8 to 12 with behaviour disorders in a residential treatment program and showed significant reduction in depression symptoms compared to the control group.
As children get older, direct control of contingencies is modified by the presence of rule-governed behaviour. Rules serve as an establishing operation and set a motivational stage as well as a discrimintative stage for behaviour. While the size of the effects on intellectual development are less clear, it appears that stimulation does have a facilitative effect on intellectual ability. However, it is important to be sure not to confuse the enhancing effect with the initial causal effect. Some data exists to show that children with developmental delays take more learning trials to acquire in material.
Learned Units and Developmental Retardation
Behaviour analysts have spent considerable time measuring learning in both the classroom and at home. In these settings, the role of a lack of stimulation has often been evidenced in the development of mild and moderate mental retardation. Recent work has focused on a model of “developmental retardation,”. an area that emphasizes cumulative environmental effects and their role in developmental delays. To measure these developmental delays, subjects are given the opportunity to respond, defined as the instructional antecedent, and success is signified by the appropriate response and/or fluency in responses. Consequently, the learned unit is identified by the opportunity to respond in addition to given reinforcement.
One study employed this model by comparing students’ time of instruction was in affluent schools to time of instruction in lower income schools. Results showed that lower income schools displayed approximately 15 minutes less instruction than more affluent schools due to disruptions in classroom management and behaviour management. Altogether, these disruptions culminated into two years worth of lost instructional time by grade 10. The goal of behaviour analytic research is to provide methods for reducing the overall number of children who fall into the retardation range of development by behavioural engineering.
Hart and Risely (1995, 1999) have completed extensive research on this topic as well. These researchers measured the rates of parent communication with children of the ages of 2-4 years and correlated this information with the IQ scores of the children at age 9. Their analyses revealed that higher parental communication with younger children was positively correlated with higher IQ in older children, even after controlling for race, class, and socio-economic status. Additionally, they concluded a significant change in IQ scores required intervention with at-risk children for approximately 40 hours per week.
The formation of class-like behaviour has also been a significant aspect in the behavioural analysis of development. This research has provided multiple explanations to the development and formation of class-like behaviour, including primary stimulus generalisation, an analysis of abstraction, relational frame theory, stimulus class analysis (sometimes referred to as recombinative generalisation), stimulus equivalence, and response class analysis. Multiple processes for class-like formation provide behaviour analysts with relatively pragmatic explanations for common issues of novelty and generalisation.
Responses are organised based upon the particular form needed to fit the current environmental challenges as well as the functional consequences. An example of large response classes lies in contingency adduction, which is an area that needs much further research, especially with a focus on how large classes of concepts shift. For example, as Piaget observed, individuals have a tendency at the pre-operational stage to have limits in their ability to preserve information. While children’s training in the development of conservation skills has been generally successful, complications have been noted. Behaviour analysts argue that this is largely due to the number of tool skills that need to be developed and integrated. Contingency adduction offers a process by which such skills can be synthesized and which shows why it deserves further attention, particularly by early childhood interventionists.
Ferster (1961) was the first researcher to posit a behaviour analytic theory for autism. Ferster’s model saw autism as a by-product of social interactions between parent and child. Ferster presented an analysis of how a variety of contingencies of reinforcement between parent and child during early childhood might establish and strengthen a repertoire of behaviours typically seen in children diagnosed with autism. A similar model was proposed by Drash and Tutor (1993), who developed the contingency-shaped or behavioural incompatibility theory of autism. They identified at least six reinforcement paradigms that may contribute to significant deficiencies in verbal behaviour typically characteristic of children diagnosed as autistic. They proposed that each of these paradigms may also create a repertoire of avoidance responses that could contribute to the establishment of a repertoire of behaviour that would be incompatible with the acquisition of age-appropriate verbal behaviour. More recent models attribute autism to neurological and sensory models that are overly worked and subsequently produce the autistic repertoire. Lovaas and Smith (1989) proposed that children with autism have a mismatch between their nervous systems and the environment, while Bijou and Ghezzi (1999) proposed a behavioural interference theory. However, both the environmental mismatch model and the inference model were recently reviewed, and new evidence shows support for the notion that the development of autistic behaviours are due to escape and avoidance of certain types of sensory stimuli. However, most behavioural models of autism remain largely speculative due to limited research efforts.
Role in Education
One of the largest impacts of behaviour analysis of child development is its role in the field of education. In 1968, Siegfried Englemann used operant conditioning techniques in a combination with rule learning to produce the direct instruction curriculum. In addition, Fred S. Keller used similar techniques to develop programmed instruction. B.F. Skinner developed a programmed instruction curriculum for teaching handwriting. One of Skinner’s students, Ogden Lindsley, developed a standardized semilogrithmic chart, the “Standard Behaviour Chart,” now “Standard Celeration Chart,” used to record frequencies of behaviour, and to allow direct visual comparisons of both frequencies and changes in those frequencies (termed “celeration”). The use of this charting tool for analysis of instructional effects or other environmental variables through the direct measurement of learner performance has become known as precision teaching.
Behaviour analysts with a focus on behavioural development form the basis of a movement called positive behaviour support (PBS). PBS has focused on building safe schools.
In education, there are many different kinds of learning that are implemented to improve skills needed for interactions later in life. Examples of this differential learning include social and language skills. According to the NWREL (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory), too much interaction with technology will hinder a child’s social interactions with others due to its potential to become an addiction and subsequently lead to anti-social behaviour. In terms of language development, children will start to learn and know about 5-20 different words by 18 months old.
Critiques of Behavioural Approach and New Developments
Behaviour analytic theories have been criticized for their focus on the explanation of the acquisition of relatively simple behaviour (i.e. the behaviour of nonhuman species, of infants, and of individuals who are intellectually disabled or autistic) rather than of complex behaviour. Michael Commons continued behaviour analysis’s rejection of mentalism and the substitution of a task analysis of the particular skills to be learned. In his new model, Commons has created a behaviour analytic model of more complex behaviour in line with more contemporary quantitative behaviour analytic models called the model of hierarchical complexity. Commons constructed the model of hierarchical complexity of tasks and their corresponding stages of performance using just three main axioms.
In the study of development, recent work has been generated regarding the combination of behaviour analytic views with dynamical systems theory. The added benefit of this approach is its portrayal of how small patterns of changes in behaviour in terms of principles and mechanisms over time can produce substantial changes in development.
Current research in behaviour analysis attempts to extend the patterns learned in childhood and to determine their impact on adult development.
The Association for Behaviour Analysis International has a special interest group for the behaviour analysis of child development.
Doctoral level behaviour analysts who are psychologists belong to American Psychological Association’s division 25: behaviour analysis.
The World Association for Behaviour Analysis has a certification in behaviour therapy. The exam draws questions on behavioural theories of child development as well as behavioural theories of child psychopathology.
The Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour was founded in 1957 by a group of researchers in the field of behaviourism.
It publishes the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour and the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis.
The Certificate of Incorporation (dated 29 October 1957) of the society states that:
The purpose and objects of this corporation shall be to encourage, foster, and promote the advancement of the science of experimental analysis of behavior; the promotion of research in the said science and the increase and diffusion of knowledge of the said science by the conduct of a program of education by meetings, conferences and symposia, and by the publication of journals, papers, periodicals and reports.
The Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour was established to meet the needs of those who were attracted to the behaviour-analytic approach but were unhappy with the lack of a journal specialising in that rapidly growing area. As described on its inside front page ever since, the journal is “primarily for the original publication of experiments relevant to the behaviour of individual organisms.” It started as a quarterly in 1958 but has appeared bimonthly since 1964. The initial Board of Editors also served as the first Board of Directors of the society.
In 1968, the society established the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis for “the original publication of reports of experimental research involving applications of the experimental analysis of behaviour to problems of social importance.”
Educational psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of human learning.
The study of learning processes, from both cognitive and behavioural perspectives, allows researchers to understand individual differences in intelligence, cognitive development, affect, motivation, self-regulation, and self-concept, as well as their role in learning. The field of educational psychology relies heavily on quantitative methods, including testing and measurement, to enhance educational activities related to instructional design, classroom management, and assessment, which serve to facilitate learning processes in various educational settings across the lifespan.
Educational psychology can in part be understood through its relationship with other disciplines. It is informed primarily by psychology, bearing a relationship to that discipline analogous to the relationship between medicine and biology. It is also informed by neuroscience. Educational psychology in turn informs a wide range of specialities within educational studies, including instructional design, educational technology, curriculum development, organizational learning, special education, classroom management, and student motivation. Educational psychology both draws from and contributes to cognitive science and the learning sciences. In universities, departments of educational psychology are usually housed within faculties of education, possibly accounting for the lack of representation of educational psychology content in introductory psychology textbooks.
The field of educational psychology involves the study of memory, conceptual processes, and individual differences (via cognitive psychology) in conceptualising new strategies for learning processes in humans. Educational psychology has been built upon theories of operant conditioning, functionalism, structuralism, constructivism, humanistic psychology, Gestalt psychology, and information processing.
Educational psychology has seen rapid growth and development as a profession in the last twenty years. School psychology began with the concept of intelligence testing leading to provisions for special education students, who could not follow the regular classroom curriculum in the early part of the 20th century. However, “school psychology” itself has built a fairly new profession based upon the practices and theories of several psychologists among many different fields. Educational psychologists are working side by side with psychiatrists, social workers, teachers, speech and language therapists, and counsellors in an attempt to understand the questions being raised when combining behavioural, cognitive, and social psychology in the classroom setting.
Educational psychology is a fairly new and growing field of study. Although it can date back as early as the days of Plato and Aristotle, educational psychology was not considered a specific practice. It was unknown that everyday teaching and learning in which individuals had to think about individual differences, assessment, development, the nature of a subject being taught, problem-solving, and transfer of learning was the beginning to the field of educational psychology. These topics are important to education and, as a result, they are important in understanding human cognition, learning, and social perception.
Plato and Aristotle
Educational psychology dates back to the time of Aristotle and Plato. Plato and Aristotle researched individual differences in the field of education, training of the body and the cultivation of psycho-motor skills, the formation of good character, the possibilities and limits of moral education. Some other educational topics they spoke about were the effects of music, poetry, and the other arts on the development of individual, role of teacher, and the relations between teacher and student. Plato saw knowledge acquisition as an innate ability, which evolves through experience and understanding of the world. This conception of human cognition has evolved into a continuing argument of nature vs. nurture in understanding conditioning and learning today. Aristotle observed the phenomenon of “association.” His four laws of association included succession, contiguity, similarity, and contrast. His studies examined recall and facilitated learning processes.
John Locke is considered one of the most influential philosophers in post-renaissance Europe, a time period that began around the mid-1600s. Locke is considered the “Father of English Psychology”. One of Locke’s most important works was written in 1690, named An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this essay, he introduced the term “tabula rasa” meaning “blank slate.” Locke explained that learning was attained through experience only and that we are all born without knowledge.
He followed by contrasting Plato’s theory of innate learning processes. Locke believed the mind was formed by experiences, not innate ideas. Locke introduced this idea as “empiricism,” or the understanding that knowledge is only built on knowledge and experience.
In the late 1600s, John Locke advanced the hypothesis that people learn primarily from external forces. He believed that the mind was like a blank tablet (tabula rasa), and that successions of simple impressions give rise to complex ideas through association and reflection. Locke is credited with establishing “empiricism” as a criterion for testing the validity of knowledge, thus providing a conceptual framework for later development of experimental methodology in the natural and social sciences.
Philosophers of education such as Juan Vives, Johann Pestalozzi, Friedrich Fröbel, and Johann Herbart had examined, classified and judged the methods of education centuries before the beginnings of psychology in the late 1800s.
Juan Vives (1493-1540) proposed induction as the method of study and believed in the direct observation and investigation of the study of nature. His studies focused on humanistic learning, which opposed scholasticism and was influenced by a variety of sources including philosophy, psychology, politics, religion, and history. He was one of the first prominent thinkers to emphasize that the location of a school is important to learning. He suggested that a school should be located away from disturbing noises; the air quality should be good and there should be plenty of food for the students and teachers. Vives emphasized the importance of understanding individual differences of the students and suggested practice as an important tool for learning.
Vives introduced his educational ideas in his writing, “De anima et vita” in 1538. In this publication, Vives explores moral philosophy as a setting for his educational ideals; with this, he explains that the different parts of the soul (similar to that of Aristotle’s ideas) are each responsible for different operations, which function distinctively. The first book covers the different “souls”: “The Vegetative Soul;” this is the soul of nutrition, growth, and reproduction, “The Sensitive Soul,” which involves the five external senses; “The Cogitative soul,” which includes internal senses and cognitive facilities. The second book involves functions of the rational soul: mind, will, and memory. Lastly, the third book explains the analysis of emotions.
Johann Pestalozzi (1746-1827), a Swiss educational reformer, emphasized the child rather than the content of the school. Pestalozzi fostered an educational reform backed by the idea that early education was crucial for children, and could be manageable for mothers. Eventually, this experience with early education would lead to a “wholesome person characterised by morality.” Pestalozzi has been acknowledged for opening institutions for education, writing books for mother’s teaching home education, and elementary books for students, mostly focusing on the kindergarten level. In his later years, he published teaching manuals and methods of teaching.
During the time of The Enlightenment, Pestalozzi’s ideals introduced “educationalisation”. This created the bridge between social issues and education by introducing the idea of social issues to be solved through education. Horlacher describes the most prominent example of this during The Enlightenment to be “improving agricultural production methods.”
Johann Herbart (1776-1841) is considered the father of educational psychology. He believed that learning was influenced by interest in the subject and the teacher. He thought that teachers should consider the students’ existing mental sets – what they already know – when presenting new information or material. Herbart came up with what are now known as the formal steps. The 5 steps that teachers should use are:
Review material that has already been learned by the student.
Prepare the student for new material by giving them an overview of what they are learning next.
Present the new material.
Relate the new material to the old material that has already been learned.
Show how the student can apply the new material and show the material they will learn next.
There were three major figures in educational psychology in this period: William James, G. Stanley Hall, and John Dewey. These three men distinguished themselves in general psychology and educational psychology, which overlapped significantly at the end of the 19th century.
William James (1842-1910)
The period of 1890-1920 is considered the golden era of educational psychology where aspirations of the new discipline rested on the application of the scientific methods of observation and experimentation to educational problems. From 1840 to 1920 37 million people immigrated to the United States. This created an expansion of elementary schools and secondary schools. The increase in immigration also provided educational psychologists the opportunity to use intelligence testing to screen immigrants at Ellis Island. Darwinism influenced the beliefs of the prominent educational psychologists. Even in the earliest years of the discipline, educational psychologists recognized the limitations of this new approach. The pioneering American psychologist William James commented that:
Psychology is a science, and teaching is an art; and sciences never generate arts directly out of themselves. An intermediate inventive mind must make that application, by using its originality”.
James is the father of psychology in America but he also made contributions to educational psychology. In his famous series of lectures Talks to Teachers on Psychology, published in 1899, James defines education as “the organization of acquired habits of conduct and tendencies to behavior”. He states that teachers should “train the pupil to behavior” so that he fits into the social and physical world. Teachers should also realise the importance of habit and instinct. They should present information that is clear and interesting and relate this new information and material to things the student already knows about. He also addresses important issues such as attention, memory, and association of ideas.
Alfred Binet published Mental Fatigue in 1898, in which he attempted to apply the experimental method to educational psychology. In this experimental method he advocated for two types of experiments, experiments done in the lab and experiments done in the classroom. In 1904 he was appointed the Minister of Public Education. This is when he began to look for a way to distinguish children with developmental disabilities. Binet strongly supported special education programs because he believed that “abnormality” could be cured. The Binet-Simon test was the first intelligence test and was the first to distinguish between “normal children” and those with developmental disabilities. Binet believed that it was important to study individual differences between age groups and children of the same age. He also believed that it was important for teachers to take into account individual students’ strengths and also the needs of the classroom as a whole when teaching and creating a good learning environment. He also believed that it was important to train teachers in observation so that they would be able to see individual differences among children and adjust the curriculum to the students. Binet also emphasized that practice of material was important. In 1916 Lewis Terman revised the Binet-Simon so that the average score was always 100. The test became known as the Stanford-Binet and was one of the most widely used tests of intelligence. Terman, unlike Binet, was interested in using intelligence test to identify gifted children who had high intelligence. In his longitudinal study of gifted children, who became known as the Termites, Terman found that gifted children become gifted adults.
Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) supported the scientific movement in education. He based teaching practices on empirical evidence and measurement. Thorndike developed the theory of instrumental conditioning or the law of effect. The law of effect states that associations are strengthened when it is followed by something pleasing and associations are weakened when followed by something not pleasing. He also found that learning is done a little at a time or in increments, learning is an automatic process and its principles apply to all mammals. Thorndike’s research with Robert Woodworth on the theory of transfer found that learning one subject will only influence your ability to learn another subject if the subjects are similar. This discovery led to less emphasis on learning the classics because they found that studying the classics does not contribute to overall general intelligence. Thorndike was one of the first to say that individual differences in cognitive tasks were due to how many stimulus-response patterns a person had rather than general intellectual ability. He contributed word dictionaries that were scientifically based to determine the words and definitions used. The dictionaries were the first to take into consideration the users’ maturity level. He also integrated pictures and easier pronunciation guide into each of the definitions. Thorndike contributed arithmetic books based on learning theory. He made all the problems more realistic and relevant to what was being studied, not just to improve the general intelligence. He developed tests that were standardized to measure performance in school-related subjects. His biggest contribution to testing was the CAVD intelligence test which used a multidimensional approach to intelligence and was the first to use a ratio scale. His later work was on programmed instruction, mastery learning, and computer-based learning:
If, by a miracle of mechanical ingenuity, a book could be so arranged that only to him who had done what was directed on page one would page two become visible, and so on, much that now requires personal instruction could be managed by print.
John Dewey (1859-1952) had a major influence on the development of progressive education in the United States. He believed that the classroom should prepare children to be good citizens and facilitate creative intelligence. He pushed for the creation of practical classes that could be applied outside of a school setting. He also thought that education should be student-oriented, not subject-oriented. For Dewey, education was a social experience that helped bring together generations of people. He stated that students learn by doing. He believed in an active mind that was able to be educated through observation, problem-solving, and enquiry. In his 1910 book How We Think, he emphasizes that material should be provided in a way that is stimulating and interesting to the student since it encourages original thought and problem-solving. He also stated that material should be relative to the student’s own experience.
“The material furnished by way of information should be relevant to a question that is vital in the students own experience”.
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was one of the most powerful researchers in the area of developmental psychology during the 20th century. He developed the theory of cognitive development. The theory stated that intelligence developed in four different stages. The stages are the sensorimotor stage from birth to 2 years old, the preoperational state from 2 to 7 years old, the concrete operational stage from 7 to 10 years old, and the formal operational stage from 12 years old and up. He also believed that learning was constrained to the child’s cognitive development. Piaget influenced educational psychology because he was the first to believe that cognitive development was important and something that should be paid attention to in education. Most of the research on Piagetian theory was carried out by American educational psychologists.
The number of people receiving a high school and college education increased dramatically from 1920 to 1960. Because very few jobs were available to teens coming out of eighth grade, there was an increase in high school attendance in the 1930s. The progressive movement in the United States took off at this time and led to the idea of progressive education. John Flanagan, an educational psychologist, developed tests for combat trainees and instructions in combat training. In 1954 the work of Kenneth Clark and his wife on the effects of segregation on black and white children was influential in the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education. From the 1960s to present day, educational psychology has switched from a behaviourist perspective to a more cognitive-based perspective because of the influence and development of cognitive psychology at this time.
Jerome Bruner is notable for integrating Piaget’s cognitive approaches into educational psychology. He advocated for discovery learning where teachers create a problem solving environment that allows the student to question, explore and experiment. In his book ‘The Process of Education’ Bruner stated that the structure of the material and the cognitive abilities of the person are important in learning. He emphasized the importance of the subject matter. He also believed that how the subject was structured was important for the student’s understanding of the subject and that it was the goal of the teacher to structure the subject in a way that was easy for the student to understand. In the early 1960s, Bruner went to Africa to teach math and science to school children, which influenced his view as schooling as a cultural institution. Bruner was also influential in the development of MACOS, Man: a Course of Study, which was an educational program that combined anthropology and science. The programme explored human evolution and social behaviour. He also helped with the development of the head start programme. He was interested in the influence of culture on education and looked at the impact of poverty on educational development.
Benjamin Bloom (1903-1999) spent over 50 years at the University of Chicago, where he worked in the department of education. He believed that all students can learn. He developed the taxonomy of educational objectives. The objectives were divided into three domains:
1. The cognitive domain deals with how we think. 2. It is divided into categories that are on a continuum from easiest to more complex. 3. The categories are knowledge or recall, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
1. The affective domain deals with emotions and has 5 categories. 2. The categories are receiving phenomenon, responding to that phenomenon, valuing, organisation, and internalising values.
1. The psychomotor domain deals with the development of motor skills, movement, and coordination and has 7 categories that also go from simplest to most complex. 2. The 7 categories of the psychomotor domain are perception, set, guided response, mechanism, complex overt response, adaptation, and origination.
The taxonomy provided broad educational objectives that could be used to help expand the curriculum to match the ideas in the taxonomy. The taxonomy is considered to have a greater influence internationally than in the United States. Internationally, the taxonomy is used in every aspect of education from the training of the teachers to the development of testing material. Bloom believed in communicating clear learning goals and promoting an active student. He thought that teachers should provide feedback to the students on their strengths and weaknesses. Bloom also did research on college students and their problem-solving processes. He found that they differ in understanding the basis of the problem and the ideas in the problem. He also found that students differ in process of problem-solving in their approach and attitude toward the problem.
Nathaniel Gage (1917-2008) is an important figure in educational psychology as his research focused on improving teaching and understanding the processes involved in teaching. He edited the book Handbook of Research on Teaching (1963), which helped develop early research in teaching and educational psychology. Gage founded the Stanford Centre for Research and Development in Teaching, which contributed research on teaching as well as influencing the education of important educational psychologists.
Applied behaviour analysis, a research-based science utilising behavioural principles of operant conditioning, is effective in a range of educational settings. For example, teachers can alter student behaviour by systematically rewarding students who follow classroom rules with praise, stars, or tokens exchangeable for sundry items. Despite the demonstrated efficacy of awards in changing behaviour, their use in education has been criticised by proponents of self-determination theory, who claim that praise and other rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. There is evidence that tangible rewards decrease intrinsic motivation in specific situations, such as when the student already has a high level of intrinsic motivation to perform the goal behaviour. But the results showing detrimental effects are counterbalanced by evidence that, in other situations, such as when rewards are given for attaining a gradually increasing standard of performance, rewards enhance intrinsic motivation. Many effective therapies have been based on the principles of applied behaviour analysis, including pivotal response therapy which is used to treat autism spectrum disorders.
Among current educational psychologists, the cognitive perspective is more widely held than the behavioural perspective, perhaps because it admits causally related mental constructs such as traits, beliefs, memories, motivations, and emotions. Cognitive theories claim that memory structures determine how information is perceived, processed, stored, retrieved and forgotten. Among the memory structures theorised by cognitive psychologists are separate but linked visual and verbal systems described by Allan Paivio’s dual coding theory. Educational psychologists have used dual coding theory and cognitive load theory to explain how people learn from multimedia presentations.
The spaced learning effect, a cognitive phenomenon strongly supported by psychological research, has broad applicability within education. For example, students have been found to perform better on a test of knowledge about a text passage when a second reading of the passage is delayed rather than immediate. Educational psychology research has confirmed the applicability to the education of other findings from cognitive psychology, such as the benefits of using mnemonics for immediate and delayed retention of information.
Problem solving, according to prominent cognitive psychologists, is fundamental to learning. It resides as an important research topic in educational psychology. A student is thought to interpret a problem by assigning it to a schema retrieved from long-term memory. A problem students run into while reading is called “activation.” This is when the student’s representations of the text are present during working memory. This causes the student to read through the material without absorbing the information and being able to retain it. When working memory is absent from the reader’s representations of the working memory they experience something called “deactivation.” When deactivation occurs, the student has an understanding of the material and is able to retain information. If deactivation occurs during the first reading, the reader does not need to undergo deactivation in the second reading. The reader will only need to reread to get a “gist” of the text to spark their memory. When the problem is assigned to the wrong schema, the student’s attention is subsequently directed away from features of the problem that are inconsistent with the assigned schema. The critical step of finding a mapping between the problem and a pre-existing schema is often cited as supporting the centrality of analogical thinking to problem-solving.
Cognitive View of Intelligence
Each person has an individual profile of characteristics, abilities, and challenges that result from predisposition, learning, and development. These manifest as individual differences in intelligence, creativity, cognitive style, motivation, and the capacity to process information, communicate, and relate to others. The most prevalent disabilities found among school age children are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disability, dyslexia, and speech disorder. Less common disabilities include intellectual disability, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and blindness.
Although theories of intelligence have been discussed by philosophers since Plato, intelligence testing is an invention of educational psychology, and is coincident with the development of that discipline. Continuing debates about the nature of intelligence revolve on whether it can be characterized by a single factor known as general intelligence, multiple factors (e.g. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences), or whether it can be measured at all. In practice, standardised instruments such as the Stanford-Binet IQ test and the WISC are widely used in economically developed countries to identify children in need of individualised educational treatment. Children classified as gifted are often provided with accelerated or enriched programs. Children with identified deficits may be provided with enhanced education in specific skills such as phonological awareness. In addition to basic abilities, the individual’s personality traits are also important, with people higher in conscientiousness and hope attaining superior academic achievements, even after controlling for intelligence and past performance.
Developmental psychology, and especially the psychology of cognitive development, opens a special perspective for educational psychology. This is so because education and the psychology of cognitive development converge on a number of crucial assumptions. First, the psychology of cognitive development defines human cognitive competence at successive phases of development. Education aims to help students acquire knowledge and develop skills that are compatible with their understanding and problem-solving capabilities at different ages. Thus, knowing the students’ level on a developmental sequence provides information on the kind and level of knowledge they can assimilate, which, in turn, can be used as a frame for organising the subject matter to be taught at different school grades. This is the reason why Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was so influential for education, especially mathematics and science education. In the same direction, the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development suggest that in addition to the concerns above, sequencing of concepts and skills in teaching must take account of the processing and working memory capacities that characterise successive age levels.
Second, the psychology of cognitive development involves understanding how cognitive change takes place and recognising the factors and processes which enable cognitive competence to develop. Education also capitalises on cognitive change, because the construction of knowledge presupposes effective teaching methods that would move the student from a lower to a higher level of understanding. Mechanisms such as reflection on actual or mental actions vis-à-vis alternative solutions to problems, tagging new concepts or solutions to symbols that help one recall and mentally manipulate them are just a few examples of how mechanisms of cognitive development may be used to facilitate learning.
Finally, the psychology of cognitive development is concerned with individual differences in the organization of cognitive processes and abilities, in their rate of change, and in their mechanisms of change. The principles underlying intra- and inter-individual differences could be educationally useful, because knowing how students differ in regard to the various dimensions of cognitive development, such as processing and representational capacity, self-understanding and self-regulation, and the various domains of understanding, such as mathematical, scientific, or verbal abilities, would enable the teacher to cater for the needs of the different students so that no one is left behind.
Constructivism is a category of learning theory in which emphasis is placed on the agency and prior “knowing” and experience of the learner, and often on the social and cultural determinants of the learning process. Educational psychologists distinguish individual (or psychological) constructivism, identified with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, from social constructivism. The social constructivist paradigm views the context in which the learning occurs as central to the learning itself. It regards learning as a process of enculturation. People learn by exposure to the culture of practitioners. They observe and practice the behaviour of practitioners and ‘pick up relevant jargon, imitate behaviour, and gradually start to act in accordance with the norms of the practice’. So, a student learns to become a mathematician through exposure to mathematician using tools to solve mathematical problems. So in order to master a particular domain of knowledge it is not enough for students to learn the concepts of the domain. They should be exposed to the use of the concepts in authentic activities by the practitioners of the domain.
A dominant influence on the social constructivist paradigm is Lev Vygotsky’s work on sociocultural learning, describing how interactions with adults, more capable peers, and cognitive tools are internalized to form mental constructs. “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD) is a term Vygotsky used to characterize an individual’s mental development. He believed the task individuals can do on their own do not give a complete understanding of their mental development. He originally defined the ZPD as “the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.” He cited a famous example to make his case. Two children in school who originally can solve problems at an eight-year-old developmental level (that is, typical for children who were age 8), might be at different developmental levels. If each child received assistance from an adult, one was able to perform at a nine-year-old level and one was able to perform at a twelve-year-old level. He said “This difference between twelve and eight, or between nine and eight, is what we call the zone of proximal development.” He further said that the ZPD “defines those functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of maturation, functions that will mature tomorrow but are currently in an embryonic state.” The zone is bracketed by the learner’s current ability and the ability they can achieve with the aid of an instructor of some capacity.
Vygotsky viewed the ZPD as a better way to explain the relation between children’s learning and cognitive development. Prior to the ZPD, the relation between learning and development could be boiled down to the following three major positions:
Development always precedes learning (e.g. constructivism): children first need to meet a particular maturation level before learning can occur;
Learning and development cannot be separated, but instead occur simultaneously (e.g. behaviourism): essentially, learning is development; and
Learning and development are separate, but interactive processes (e.g. gestaltism): one process always prepares the other process, and vice versa.
Vygotsky rejected these three major theories because he believed that learning should always precede development in the ZPD. According to Vygotsky, through the assistance of a more knowledgeable other, a child is able to learn skills or aspects of a skill that go beyond the child’s actual developmental or maturational level. The lower limit of ZPD is the level of skill reached by the child working independently (also referred to as the child’s developmental level). The upper limit is the level of potential skill that the child is able to reach with the assistance of a more capable instructor. In this sense, the ZPD provides a prospective view of cognitive development, as opposed to a retrospective view that characterises development in terms of a child’s independent capabilities. The advancement through and attainment of the upper limit of the ZPD is limited by the instructional and scaffolding-related capabilities of the more knowledgeable other (MKO). The MKO is typically assumed to be an older, more experienced teacher or parent, but often can be a learner’s peer or someone their junior. The MKO need not even be a person, it can be a machine or book, or other source of visual and/or audio input.
Elaborating on Vygotsky’s theory, Jerome Bruner and other educational psychologists developed the important concept of instructional scaffolding, in which the social or information environment offers supports for learning that are gradually withdrawn as they become internalised.
Jean Piaget’s Cognitive Development
Jean Piaget was interested in how an organism adapts to its environment. Piaget hypothesized that infants are born with a schema operating at birth that he called “reflexes”. Piaget identified four stages in cognitive development. The four stages are:
Concrete operational stage; and
Formal operational stage.
Conditioning and learning
To understand the characteristics of learners in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age, educational psychology develops and applies theories of human development. Often represented as stages through which people pass as they mature, developmental theories describe changes in mental abilities (cognition), social roles, moral reasoning, and beliefs about the nature of knowledge.
For example, educational psychologists have conducted research on the instructional applicability of Jean Piaget’s theory of development, according to which children mature through four stages of cognitive capability. Piaget hypothesized that children are not capable of abstract logical thought until they are older than about 11 years, and therefore younger children need to be taught using concrete objects and examples. Researchers have found that transitions, such as from concrete to abstract logical thought, do not occur at the same time in all domains. A child may be able to think abstractly about mathematics, but remain limited to concrete thought when reasoning about human relationships. Perhaps Piaget’s most enduring contribution is his insight that people actively construct their understanding through a self-regulatory process.
Piaget proposed a developmental theory of moral reasoning in which children progress from a naïve understanding of morality based on behaviour and outcomes to a more advanced understanding based on intentions. Piaget’s views of moral development were elaborated by Lawrence Kohlberg into a stage theory of moral development. There is evidence that the moral reasoning described in stage theories is not sufficient to account for moral behaviour. For example, other factors such as modelling (as described by the social cognitive theory of morality) are required to explain bullying.
Rudolf Steiner’s model of child development interrelates physical, emotional, cognitive, and moral development in developmental stages similar to those later described by Piaget.
Developmental theories are sometimes presented not as shifts between qualitatively different stages, but as gradual increments on separate dimensions. Development of epistemological beliefs (beliefs about knowledge) have been described in terms of gradual changes in people’s belief in: certainty and permanence of knowledge, fixedness of ability, and credibility of authorities such as teachers and experts. People develop more sophisticated beliefs about knowledge as they gain in education and maturity.
Motivation is an internal state that activates, guides and sustains behaviour. Motivation can have several impacting effects on how students learn and how they behave towards subject matter:
Provide direction towards goals.
Enhance cognitive processing abilities and performance.
Direct behaviour toward particular goals.
Lead to increased effort and energy.
Increase initiation of and persistence in activities.
Educational psychology research on motivation is concerned with the volition or will that students bring to a task, their level of interest and intrinsic motivation, the personally held goals that guide their behaviour, and their belief about the causes of their success or failure. As intrinsic motivation deals with activities that act as their own rewards, extrinsic motivation deals with motivations that are brought on by consequences or punishments. A form of attribution theory developed by Bernard Weiner describes how students’ beliefs about the causes of academic success or failure affect their emotions and motivations. For example, when students attribute failure to lack of ability, and ability is perceived as uncontrollable, they experience the emotions of shame and embarrassment and consequently decrease effort and show poorer performance. In contrast, when students attribute failure to lack of effort, and effort is perceived as controllable, they experience the emotion of guilt and consequently increase effort and show improved performance.
The self-determination theory (SDT) was developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. SDT focuses on the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in driving human behaviour and posits inherent growth and development tendencies. It emphasizes the degree to which an individual’s behaviour is self-motivated and self-determined. When applied to the realm of education, the self-determination theory is concerned primarily with promoting in students an interest in learning, a value of education, and a confidence in their own capacities and attributes.
Motivational theories also explain how learners’ goals affect the way they engage with academic tasks. Those who have mastery goals strive to increase their ability and knowledge. Those who have performance approach goals strive for high grades and seek opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. Those who have performance avoidance goals are driven by fear of failure and avoid situations where their abilities are exposed. Research has found that mastery goals are associated with many positive outcomes such as persistence in the face of failure, preference for challenging tasks, creativity, and intrinsic motivation. Performance avoidance goals are associated with negative outcomes such as poor concentration while studying, disorganised studying, less self-regulation, shallow information processing, and test anxiety. Performance approach goals are associated with positive outcomes, and some negative outcomes such as an unwillingness to seek help and shallow information processing.
Locus of control is a salient factor in the successful academic performance of students. During the 1970s and ’80s, Cassandra B. Whyte did significant educational research studying locus of control as related to the academic achievement of students pursuing higher education coursework. Much of her educational research and publications focused upon the theories of Julian B. Rotter in regard to the importance of internal control and successful academic performance. Whyte reported that individuals who perceive and believe that their hard work may lead to more successful academic outcomes, instead of depending on luck or fate, persist and achieve academically at a higher level. Therefore, it is important to provide education and counselling in this regard.
Instructional design, the systematic design of materials, activities, and interactive environments for learning, is broadly informed by educational psychology theories and research. For example, in defining learning goals or objectives, instructional designers often use a taxonomy of educational objectives created by Benjamin Bloom and colleagues. Bloom also researched mastery learning, an instructional strategy in which learners only advance to a new learning objective after they have mastered its prerequisite objectives. Bloom discovered that a combination of mastery learning with one-to-one tutoring is highly effective, producing learning outcomes far exceeding those normally achieved in classroom instruction. Gagné, another psychologist, had earlier developed an influential method of task analysis in which a terminal learning goal is expanded into a hierarchy of learning objectives connected by prerequisite relationships. The following list of technological resources incorporate computer-aided instruction and intelligence for educational psychologists and their students:
Intelligent tutoring system.
Computer-supported collaborative learning.
Technology is essential to the field of educational psychology, not only for the psychologist themselves as far as testing, organisation, and resources, but also for students. Educational Psychologists who reside in the K-12 setting focus the majority of their time on Special Education students. It has been found that students with disabilities learning through technology such as iPad applications and videos are more engaged and motivated to learn in the classroom setting. Liu et al. explain that learning-based technology allows for students to be more focused, and learning is more efficient with learning technologies. The authors explain that learning technology also allows for students with social-emotional disabilities to participate in distance learning.
Research on classroom management and pedagogy is conducted to guide teaching practice and form a foundation for teacher education programmes. The goals of classroom management are to create an environment conducive to learning and to develop students’ self-management skills. More specifically, classroom management strives to create positive teacher-student and peer relationships, manage student groups to sustain on-task behaviour, and use counselling and other psychological methods to aid students who present persistent psycho-social problems.
Introductory educational psychology is a commonly required area of study in most North American teacher education programmes. When taught in that context, its content varies, but it typically emphasizes learning theories (especially cognitively oriented ones), issues about motivation, assessment of students’ learning, and classroom management. A developing Wikibook about educational psychology gives more detail about the educational psychology topics that are typically presented in preservice teacher education.
In order to become an educational psychologist, students can complete an undergraduate degree in their choice. They then must go to graduate school to study education psychology, counselling psychology, and/ or school counselling. Most students today are also receiving their doctorate degrees in order to hold the “psychologist” title. Educational psychologists work in a variety of settings. Some work in university settings where they carry out research on the cognitive and social processes of human development, learning and education. Educational psychologists may also work as consultants in designing and creating educational materials, classroom programmes and online courses. Educational psychologists who work in k–12 school settings (closely related are school psychologists in the US and Canada) are trained at the master’s and doctoral levels. In addition to conducting assessments, school psychologists provide services such as academic and behavioural intervention, counselling, teacher consultation, and crisis intervention. However, school psychologists are generally more individual-oriented towards students.
Many high schools and colleges are increasingly offering educational psychology courses, with some colleges offering it as a general education requirement. Similarly, colleges offer students opportunities to obtain a PhD. in Educational Psychology.
Within the UK, students must hold a degree that is accredited by the British Psychological Society (either undergraduate or at Masters level) before applying for a three-year doctoral course that involves further education, placement, and a research thesis.
Anticipated to grow by 18-26%, employment for psychologists in the United States is expected to grow faster than most occupations in 2014. One in four psychologists is employed in educational settings. In the United States, the median salary for psychologists in primary and secondary schools is US$58,360 as of May 2004.
In recent decades, the participation of women as professional researchers in North American educational psychology has risen dramatically.
Methods of Research
Educational psychology, as much as any other field of psychology heavily relies on a balance of pure observation and quantitative methods in psychology. The study of education generally combines the studies of history, sociology, and ethics with theoretical approaches. Smeyers and Depaepe explain that historically, the study of education and child-rearing have been associated with the interests of policymakers and practitioners within the educational field, however, the recent shift to sociology and psychology has opened the door for new findings in education as a social science. Now being its own academic discipline, educational psychology has proven to be helpful for social science researchers.
Quantitative research is the backing to most observable phenomena in psychology. This involves observing, creating, and understanding distribution of data based upon the study’s subject matter. Researchers use particular variables to interpret their data distributions from their research and employ statistics as a way of creating data tables and analysing their data. Psychology has moved from the “common sense” reputations initially posed by Thomas Reid to the methodology approach comparing independent and dependent variables through natural observation, experiments, or combinations of the two. Though results are still, with statistical methods, objectively true based upon significance variables or p- values.
It looks at specific, learned behaviours and how the environment, or other people’s mental states, influences those behaviours, and consists of techniques based on learning theory, such as respondent or operant conditioning. Behaviourists who practice these techniques are either behaviour analysts or cognitive-behavioural therapists. They tend to look for treatment outcomes that are objectively measurable. Behaviour therapy does not involve one specific method but it has a wide range of techniques that can be used to treat a person’s psychological problems.
Behavioural psychotherapy is sometimes juxtaposed with cognitive psychotherapy, while cognitive behavioural therapy integrates aspects of both approaches, such as cognitive restructuring, positive reinforcement, habituation (or desensitisation), counterconditioning, and modelling.
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) is the application of behaviour analysis that focuses on functionally assessing how behaviour is influenced by the observable learning environment and how to change such behaviour through contingency management or exposure therapies, which are used throughout clinical behaviour analysis therapies or other interventions based on the same learning principles.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy views cognition and emotions as preceding overt behaviour and implements treatment plans in psychotherapy to lessen the issue by managing competing thoughts and emotions, often in conjunction with behavioural learning principles.
A 2013 Cochrane review comparing behaviour therapies to psychological therapies found them to be equally effective, although at the time the evidence base that evaluates the benefits and harms of behaviour therapies was felt to be weak.
Precursors of certain fundamental aspects of behaviour therapy have been identified in various ancient philosophical traditions, particularly Stoicism. For example, Wolpe and Lazarus wrote,
While the modern behavior therapist deliberately applies principles of learning to this therapeutic operations, empirical behavior therapy is probably as old as civilization – if we consider civilization as having started when man first did things to further the well-being of other men. From the time that this became a feature of human life there must have been occasions when a man complained of his ills to another who advised or persuaded him of a course of action. In a broad sense, this could be called behavior therapy whenever the behavior itself was conceived as the therapeutic agent. Ancient writings contain innumerable behavioral prescriptions that accord with this broad conception of behavior therapy.
The first use of the term behaviour modification appears to have been by Edward Thorndike in 1911. His article Provisional Laws of Acquired Behaviour or Learning makes frequent use of the term “modifying behaviour”. Through early research in the 1940s and the 1950s the term was used by Joseph Wolpe’s research group. The experimental tradition in clinical psychology used it to refer to psycho-therapeutic techniques derived from empirical research. It has since come to refer mainly to techniques for increasing adaptive behaviour through reinforcement and decreasing maladaptive behaviour through extinction or punishment (with emphasis on the former). Two related terms are behaviour therapy and applied behaviour analysis. Since techniques derived from behavioural psychology tend to be the most effective in altering behaviour, most practitioners consider behaviour modification along with behaviour therapy and applied behaviour analysis to be founded in behaviourism. While behaviour modification and applied behaviour analysis typically uses interventions based on the same behavioural principles, many behaviour modifiers who are not applied behaviour analysts tend to use packages of interventions and do not conduct functional assessments before intervening.
Possibly the first occurrence of the term “behaviour therapy” was in a 1953 research project by B.F. Skinner, Ogden Lindsley, Nathan Azrin and Harry C. Solomon. The paper talked about operant conditioning and how it could be used to help improve the functioning of people who were diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. Early pioneers in behaviour therapy include Joseph Wolpe and Hans Eysenck.
In general, behaviour therapy is seen as having three distinct points of origin: South Africa (Wolpe’s group), The United States (Skinner), and the United Kingdom (Rachman and Eysenck). Each had its own distinct approach to viewing behaviour problems. Eysenck in particular viewed behaviour problems as an interplay between personality characteristics, environment, and behaviour. Skinner’s group in the United States took more of an operant conditioning focus. The operant focus created a functional approach to assessment and interventions focused on contingency management such as the token economy and behavioural activation. Skinner’s student Ogden Lindsley is credited with forming a movement called precision teaching, which developed a particular type of graphing programme called the standard celeration chart to monitor the progress of clients. Skinner became interested in the individualising of programs for improved learning in those with or without disabilities and worked with Fred S. Keller to develop programmed instruction. Programmed instruction had some clinical success in aphasia rehabilitation. Gerald Patterson used programme instruction to develop his parenting text for children with conduct problems. With age, respondent conditioning appears to slow but operant conditioning remains relatively stable. While the concept had its share of advocates and critics in the west, its introduction in the Asian setting, particularly in India in the early 1970s and its grand success were testament to the famous Indian psychologist H. Narayan Murthy’s enduring commitment to the principles of behavioural therapy and biofeedback.
While many behaviour therapists remain staunchly committed to the basic operant and respondent paradigm, in the second half of the 20th century, many therapists coupled behaviour therapy with the cognitive therapy, of Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, and Donald Meichenbaum to form cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). In some areas the cognitive component had an additive effect (for example, evidence suggests that cognitive interventions improve the result of social phobia treatment) but in other areas it did not enhance the treatment, which led to the pursuit of third generation behaviour therapies. Third generation behaviour therapy uses basic principles of operant and respondent psychology but couples them with functional analysis and a clinical formulation/case conceptualisation of verbal behaviour more inline with view of the behaviour analysts. Some research supports these therapies as being more effective in some cases than cognitive therapy, but overall the question is still in need of answers.
The behavioural approach to therapy assumes that behaviour that is associated with psychological problems develops through the same processes of learning that affects the development of other behaviours. Therefore, behaviourists see personality problems in the way that personality was developed. They do not look at behaviour disorders as something a person has, but consider that it reflects how learning has influenced certain people to behave in a certain way in certain situations.
Behaviour therapy is based upon the principles of classical conditioning developed by Ivan Pavlov and operant conditioning developed by B.F. Skinner. Classical conditioning happens when a neutral stimulus comes right before another stimulus that triggers a reflexive response. The idea is that if the neutral stimulus and whatever other stimulus that triggers a response is paired together often enough that the neutral stimulus will produce the reflexive response. Operant conditioning has to do with rewards and punishments and how they can either strengthen or weaken certain behaviours.
Contingency management programmes are a direct product of research from operant conditioning.
Behavioural therapy based on operant and respondent principles has considerable evidence base to support its usage. This approach remains a vital area of clinical psychology and is often termed clinical behaviour analysis. Behavioural psychotherapy has become increasingly contextual in recent years. Behavioural psychotherapy has developed greater interest in recent years in personality disorders as well as a greater focus on acceptance and complex case conceptualisations.
Functional Analytic Psychotherapy
One current form of behavioural psychotherapy is functional analytic psychotherapy. Functional analytic psychotherapy is a longer duration behaviour therapy. Functional analytic therapy focuses on in-session use of reinforcement and is primarily a relationally-based therapy. As with most of the behavioural psychotherapies, functional analytic psychotherapy is contextual in its origins and nature. and draws heavily on radical behaviourism and functional contextualism.
Functional analytic psychotherapy holds to a process model of research, which makes it unique compared to traditional behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
Functional analytic psychotherapy has a strong research support. Recent functional analytic psychotherapy research efforts are focusing on management of aggressive inpatients.
Behaviour therapists complete a functional analysis or a functional assessment that looks at four important areas: stimulus, organism, response and consequences. The stimulus is the condition or environmental trigger that causes behaviour. An organism involves the internal responses of a person, like physiological responses, emotions and cognition. A response is the behaviour that a person exhibits and the consequences are the result of the behaviour. These four things are incorporated into an assessment done by the behaviour therapist.
Most behaviour therapists use objective assessment methods like structured interviews, objective psychological tests or different behavioural rating forms. These types of assessments are used so that the behaviour therapist can determine exactly what a client’s problem may be and establish a baseline for any maladaptive responses that the client may have. By having this baseline, as therapy continues this same measure can be used to check a client’s progress, which can help determine if the therapy is working. Behaviour therapists do not typically ask the why questions but tend to be more focused on the how, when, where and what questions. Tests such as the Rorschach inkblot test or personality tests like the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) are not commonly used for behavioural assessment because they are based on personality trait theory assuming that a person’s answer to these methods can predict behaviour. Behaviour assessment is more focused on the observations of a persons behaviour in their natural environment.
Behavioural assessment specifically attempts to find out what the environmental and self-imposed variables are. These variables are the things that are allowing a person to maintain their maladaptive feelings, thoughts and behaviours. In a behavioural assessment “person variables” are also considered. These “person variables” come from a person’s social learning history and they affect the way in which the environment affects that person’s behaviour. An example of a person variable would be behavioural competence. Behavioural competence looks at whether a person has the appropriate skills and behaviours that are necessary when performing a specific response to a certain situation or stimuli.
When making a behavioural assessment the behaviour therapist wants to answer two questions:
What are the different factors (environmental or psychological) that are maintaining the maladaptive behaviour; and
What type of behaviour therapy or technique that can help the individual improve most effectively.
The first question involves looking at all aspects of a person, which can be summed up by the acronym BASIC ID. This acronym stands for behaviour, affective responses, sensory reactions, imagery, cognitive processes, interpersonal relationships and drug use.
Behaviour therapy based its core interventions on functional analysis. Just a few of the many problems that behaviour therapy have functionally analysed include intimacy in couples relationships, forgiveness in couples, chronic pain, stress-related behaviour problems of being an adult child of a person with an alcohol use disorder, anorexia, chronic distress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, insomnia and obesity.
Functional analysis has even been applied to problems that therapists commonly encounter like client resistance, partially engaged clients and involuntary clients. Applications to these problems have left clinicians with considerable tools for enhancing therapeutic effectiveness. One way to enhance therapeutic effectiveness is to use positive reinforcement or operant conditioning. Although behaviour therapy is based on the general learning model, it can be applied in a lot of different treatment packages that can be specifically developed to deal with problematic behaviours. Some of the more well known types of treatments are: Relaxation training, systematic desensitisation, virtual reality exposure, exposure and response prevention techniques, social skills training, modelling, behavioural rehearsal and homework, and aversion therapy and punishment.
Relaxation training involves clients learning to lower arousal to reduce their stress by tensing and releasing certain muscle groups throughout their body. Systematic desensitisation is a treatment in which the client slowly substitutes a new learned response for a maladaptive response by moving up a hierarchy of situations involving fear. Systematic desensitisation is based in part on counter conditioning. Counter conditioning is learning new ways to change one response for another and in the case of desensitisation it is substituting that maladaptive behaviour for a more relaxing behaviour. Exposure and response prevention techniques (also known as flooding and response prevention) is the general technique in which a therapist exposes an individual to anxiety-provoking stimuli while keeping them from having any avoidance responses.
Virtual reality therapy provides realistic, computer-based simulations of troublesome situations. The modelling process involves a person being subjected to watching other individuals who demonstrate behaviour that is considered adaptive and that should be adopted by the client. This exposure involves not only the cues of the “model person” as well as the situations of a certain behaviour that way the relationship can be seen between the appropriateness of a certain behaviour and situation in which that behaviour occurs is demonstrated. With the behavioural rehearsal and homework treatment a client gets a desired behaviour during a therapy session and then they practice and record that behaviour between their sessions. Aversion therapy and punishment is a technique in which an aversive (painful or unpleasant) stimulus is used to decrease unwanted behaviours from occurring. It is concerned with two procedures:
The procedures are used to decrease the likelihood of the frequency of a certain behaviour; and
Procedures that will reduce the attractiveness of certain behaviours and the stimuli that elicit them.
The punishment side of aversion therapy is when an aversive stimulus is presented at the same time that a negative stimulus and then they are stopped at the same time when a positive stimulus or response is presented. Examples of the type of negative stimulus or punishment that can be used is shock therapy treatments, aversive drug treatments as well as response cost contingent punishment which involves taking away a reward.
Applied behaviour analysis is using behavioural methods to modify certain behaviours that are seen as being important socially or personally. There are four main characteristics of applied behaviour analysis:
First behaviour analysis is focused mainly on overt behaviours in an applied setting.
Treatments are developed as a way to alter the relationship between those overt behaviours and their consequences.
Another characteristic of applied behaviour analysis is how it (behaviour analysis) goes about evaluating treatment effects.
The individual subject is where the focus of study is on, the investigation is centred on the one individual being treated.
A third characteristic is that it focuses on what the environment does to cause significant behaviour changes.
Finally the last characteristic of applied behaviour analysis is the use of those techniques that stem from operant and classical conditioning such as providing reinforcement, punishment, stimulus control and any other learning principles that may apply.
Social skills training teaches clients skills to access reinforcers and lessen life punishment. Operant conditioning procedures in meta-analysis had the largest effect size for training social skills, followed by modelling, coaching, and social cognitive techniques in that order. Social skills training has some empirical support particularly for schizophrenia. However, with schizophrenia, behavioural programmes have generally lost favour.
Some other techniques that have been used in behaviour therapy are contingency contracting, response costs, token economies, biofeedback, and using shaping and grading task assignments.
Shaping and graded task assignments are used when behaviour that needs to be learned is complex. The complex behaviours that need to be learned are broken down into simpler steps where the person can achieve small things gradually building up to the more complex behaviour. Each step approximates the eventual goal and helps the person to expand their activities in a gradual way. This behaviour is used when a person feels that something in their lives can not be changed and life’s tasks appear to be overwhelming.
Another technique of behaviour therapy involves holding a client or patient accountable of their behaviours in an effort to change them. This is called a contingency contract, which is a formal written contract between two or more people that defines the specific expected behaviours that you wish to change and the rewards and punishments that go along with that behaviour. In order for a contingency contract to be official it needs to have five elements. First it must state what each person will get if they successfully complete the desired behaviour. Secondly those people involved have to monitor the behaviours. Third, if the desired behaviour is not being performed in the way that was agreed upon in the contract the punishments that were defined in the contract must be done. Fourth if the persons involved are complying with the contract they must receive bonuses. The last element involves documenting the compliance and noncompliance while using this treatment in order to give the persons involved consistent feedback about the target behaviour and the provision of reinforcers.
Token economies is a behaviour therapy technique where clients are reinforced with tokens that are considered a type of currency that can be used to purchase desired rewards, like being able to watch television or getting a snack that they want when they perform designated behaviours. Token economies are mainly used in institutional and therapeutic settings. In order for a token economy to be effective there must be consistency in administering the program by the entire staff. Procedures must be clearly defined so that there is no confusion among the clients. Instead of looking for ways to punish the patients or to deny them of rewards, the staff has to reinforce the positive behaviours so that the clients will increase the occurrence of the desired behaviour. Over time the tokens need to be replaced with less tangible rewards such as compliments so that the client will be prepared when they leave the institution and won’t expect to get something every time they perform a desired behaviour.
Closely related to token economies is a technique called response costs. This technique can either be used with or without token economies. Response costs is the punishment side of token economies where there is a loss of a reward or privilege after someone performs an undesirable behaviour. Like token economies this technique is used mainly in institutional and therapeutic settings.
Considerable policy implications have been inspired by behavioural views of various forms of psychopathology. One form of behaviour therapy, habit reversal training, has been found to be highly effective for treating tics.
Currently, there is a greater call for behavioural psychologists to be involved in rehabilitation efforts.
Treatment of Mental Disorders
Two large studies done by the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University indicates that both behaviour therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are equally effective for OCD. CBT has been shown to perform slightly better at treating co-occurring depression.
Considerable policy implications have been inspired by behavioural views of various forms of psychopathology. One form of behaviour therapy (habit reversal training) has been found to be highly effective for treating tics.
There has been a development towards combining techniques to treat psychiatric disorders. Cognitive interventions are used to enhance the effects of more established behavioural interventions based on operant and classical conditioning. An increased effort has also been placed to address the interpersonal context of behaviour.
Behaviour therapy can be applied to a number of mental disorders and in many cases is more effective for specific disorders as compared to others. Behaviour therapy techniques can be used to deal with any phobias that a person may have. Desensitisation has also been applied to other issues such as dealing with anger, if a person has trouble sleeping and certain speech disorders. Desensitisation does not occur over night, there is a process of treatment. Desensitisation is done on a hierarchy and happens over a number of sessions. The hierarchy goes from situations that make a person less anxious or nervous up to things that are considered to be extreme for the patient.
Modelling has been used in dealing with fears and phobias. Modelling has been used in the treatment of fear of snakes as well as a fear of water.
Aversive therapy techniques have been used to treat sexual deviations as well as alcohol use disorder.
Exposure and prevention procedure techniques can be used to treat people who have anxiety problems as well as any fears or phobias. These procedures have also been used to help people dealing with any anger issues as well as pathological grievers (people who have distressing thoughts about a deceased person).
Virtual reality therapy deals with fear of heights, fear of flying, and a variety of other anxiety disorders. VRT has also been applied to help people with substance abuse problems reduce their responsiveness to certain cues that trigger their need to use drugs.
Shaping and graded task assignments has been used in dealing with suicide and depressed or inhibited individuals. This is used when a patient feel hopeless and they have no way of changing their lives. This hopelessness involves how the person reacts and responds to someone else and certain situations and their perceived powerlessness to change that situation that adds to the hopelessness. For a person with suicidal ideation, it is important to start with small steps. Because that person may perceive everything as being a big step, the smaller you start the easier it will be for the person to master each step. This technique has also been applied to people dealing with agoraphobia, or fear of being in public places or doing something embarrassing.
Contingency contracting has been used to deal with behaviour problems in delinquents and when dealing with on task behaviours in students.
Token economies are used in controlled environments and are found mostly in psychiatric hospitals. They can be used to help patients with different mental illnesses but it doesn’t focus on the treatment of the mental illness but instead on the behavioural aspects of a patient. The response cost technique has been used to address a variety of behaviours such as smoking, overeating, stuttering, and psychotic talk.
Systematic desensitisation has been shown to successfully treat phobias about heights, driving, insects as well as any anxiety that a person may have. Anxiety can include social anxiety, anxiety about public speaking as well as test anxiety. It has been shown that the use of systematic desensitisation is an effective technique that can be applied to a number of problems that a person may have.
When using modelling procedures this technique is often compared to another behavioural therapy technique. When compared to desensitisation, the modelling technique does appear to be less effective. However it is clear that the greater the interaction between the patient and the subject he is modelling the greater the effectiveness of the treatment.
While undergoing exposure therapy, a person typically needs five sessions to assess the treatment’s effectiveness. After five sessions, exposure treatment has been shown to provide benefit to the patient. However, it is still recommended treatment continue beyond the initial five sessions.
Virtual reality therapy (VRT) has shown to be effective for a fear of heights. It has also been shown to help with the treatment of a variety of anxiety disorders. Due to the costs associated with VRT, therapists are still awaiting results of controlled trials investigating VRT, to assess which applications demonstrate the best results.
For those with suicidal ideation, treatment depends on how severe the person’s depression and sense of hopelessness is. If these things are severe, the person’s response to completing small steps will not be of importance to them, because they don’t consider the success an accomplishment. Generally, in those not suffering from severe depression or fear, this technique has been successful, as completion of simpler activities builds their confidences and allows them to progress to more complex situations.
Contingency contracts have been seen to be effective in changing any undesired behaviours of individuals. It has been seen to be effective in treating behaviour problems in delinquents regardless of the specific characteristics of the contract.
Token economies have been shown to be effective when treating patients in psychiatric wards who had chronic schizophrenia. The results showed that the contingent tokens were controlling the behaviour of the patients.
Response costs has been shown to work in suppressing a variety of behaviours such as smoking, overeating or stuttering with a diverse group of clinical populations ranging from sociopaths to school children. These behaviours that have been suppressed using this technique often do not recover when the punishment contingency is withdrawn. Also undesirable side effects that are usually seen with punishment are not typically found when using the response cost technique.
The third-generation behaviour therapy movement has been called clinical behaviour analysis because it represents a movement away from cognitivism and back toward radical behaviourism and other forms of behaviourism, in particular functional analysis and behavioural models of verbal behaviour. This area includes acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioural analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP), behavioural activation (BA), dialectical behavioural therapy, functional analytic psychotherapy (FAP), integrative behavioural couples therapy, metacognitive therapy and metacognitive training. These approaches are squarely within the applied behaviour analysis tradition of behaviour therapy.
ACT may be the most well-researched of all the third-generation behaviour therapy models. It is based on relational frame theory. Other authors object to the term “third generation” or “third wave” and incorporate many of the “third wave” therapeutic techniques under the general umbrella term of modern cognitive behavioural therapies.
Functional analytic psychotherapy is based on a functional analysis of the therapeutic relationship. It places a greater emphasis on the therapeutic context and returns to the use of in-session reinforcement. In general, 40 years of research supports the idea that in-session reinforcement of behaviour can lead to behavioural change.
Behavioural activation emerged from a component analysis of cognitive behaviour therapy. This research found no additive effect for the cognitive component. Behavioural activation is based on a matching model of reinforcement. A recent review of the research, supports the notion that the use of behavioural activation is clinically important for the treatment of depression.
Integrative behavioural couples therapy developed from dissatisfaction with traditional behavioural couples therapy. Integrative behavioural couples therapy looks to Skinner (1969) for the difference between contingency-shaped and rule-governed behaviour. It couples this analysis with a thorough functional assessment of the couple’s relationship. Recent efforts have used radical behavioural concepts to interpret a number of clinical phenomena including forgiveness.
Many organisations exist for behaviour therapists around the world. In the United States, the American Psychological Association’s Division 25 is the division for behaviour analysis. The Association for Contextual Behaviour Therapy is another professional organisation. ACBS is home to many clinicians with specific interest in third generation behaviour therapy. Doctoral-level behaviour analysts who are psychologists belong to American Psychological Association’s division 25 – Behaviour analysis. APA offers a diploma in behavioural psychology.
The Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (formerly the Association for the Advancement of Behaviour Therapy) is for those with a more cognitive orientation. The ABCT also has an interest group in behaviour analysis, which focuses on clinical behaviour analysis. In addition, the Association for Behavioural an Cognitive Therapies has a special interest group on addictions.
By nature, behavioural therapies are empirical (data-driven), contextual (focused on the environment and context), functional (interested in the effect or consequence a behaviour ultimately has), probabilistic (viewing behaviour as statistically predictable), monistic (rejecting mind–body dualism and treating the person as a unit), and relational (analysing bidirectional interactions).
Behavioural therapy develops, adds and provides behavioural intervention strategies and programs for clients, and training to people who care to facilitate successful lives in the communities.
Recent efforts in behavioural psychotherapy have focused on the supervision process. A key point of behavioural models of supervision is that the supervisory process parallels the behavioural psychotherapy.
Clinical behaviour analysis.
Exposure and response prevention.
Habit reversal training.
Professional practice of behaviour analysis.
Skinner, B.F. (1969). Contingencies of Reinforcement: A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Meredith Corporation.
A licensed behaviour analyst is a type of behavioural health professional in the United States.
They have at least a master’s degree, and sometimes a doctorate, in behaviour analysis or a related field.
Behaviour analysts apply radical behaviourism, or applied behaviour analysis, to people.
Defining the Scope of Practice
The Behaviour Analyst Certification Board (BACB) defines behaviour analysis as follows:
“The analysis. The experimental analysis of behavior (EAB) is the basic science of this field and has over many decades accumulated a substantial and well-respected research literature. This literature provides the scientific foundation for applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is both an applied science that develops methods of changing behavior and a profession that provides services to meet diverse behavioral needs. Briefly, professionals in applied behavior analysis engage in the specific and comprehensive use of principles of learning, including operant and respondent learning, in order to address behavioral needs of widely varying individuals in diverse settings. Examples of these applications include: building the skills and achievements of children in school settings; enhancing the development, abilities, and choices of children and adults with different kinds of disabilities; and augmenting the performance and satisfaction of employees in organizations and businesses.”
As the above suggests, behaviour analysis is based on the principles of operant and respondent conditioning. This places behaviour analysis as one of the dominant models of behaviour management, behavioural engineering and behaviour therapy. Behaviour analysis is an active, environmental based approach and some behaviour analytic procedures are considered highly restrictive (see least restrictive environment). For example, these service may make access to preferred items contingent on performance. This has led to abuses in the past, in particular where punishment programmes have been involved. In addition, failure to be an independent profession often leads behaviour analysts and other behaviour modifiers to have their ethical codes supplanted by those of other professions. For example, a behaviour analyst working in the hospital setting might design a token economy, a form of contingency management. He may desire to meet his ethical obligation to make the program habilitative and in the clients’ best long-term interest. The physicians and nurses in the hospital who supervise him may decide that the token economy should instead create order in the nursing routines so clients get their medication quickly and efficiently. Instead of the ethical code of the BACB and the Association for Behaviour Analysis International’s position that those receiving treatment have a right to effective treatment and a right to effective education. In addition, failure on the part of a behaviour analyst to adequately supervise his or her workers could lead to abuse. Finally, misrepresentations of the field and historical problems between academics has led to frequent calls to professionalise behaviour analysis.
In general, there is wide support within the profession for licensure.
Range of Populations Worked With
The professional practice of behaviour analysis ranges from treatment of individuals with autism and developmental disabilities to behavioural coaching and behavioural psychotherapy. In addition to treatment of mental health problems and corrections, the professional practice of behaviour analysis includes organisational behavioural management, behavioural safety and even maintaining the behavioural health of astronauts while within and beyond earth’s orbit.
The BACB offers a technical certificate in behaviour analysis. This certification is internationally recognised. This certification states the level of training and requires an exam to show a minimum level of competence to call oneself a board certified behaviour analyst (BCBA). Certification came about because of many ethical issues with behavioural interventions being delivered including the use of aversive and humiliating treatments in the name of behaviour modification. The American Psychological Association offers a diplomate (post Ph.D. and licensed certification) in behavioural psychology.
The Meaning of Certification
BACB is a private non-profit organisation without governmental powers to regulate behaviour analytic practice. While the BACB certification means that candidates have satisfied entry-level requirements in behaviour analytic training, certificants may require a government license for independent practice when treating behavioural health or medical problems. Licensed certificants must operate within the scope of their license and must practice within their areas of expertise. Where the government regulates behavior analytic services unlicensed certificants must be supervised by a licensed professional and operate within the scope of their supervisor’s license when treating disorders. Unlicensed certificants who provide behaviour analytic training for educational or optimal performance purposes do not require licensed supervision. Where the government does not regulate the treatment of medical or psychological disorders certificants should practice in accord with the laws of their state, province, or country. All certificants must practice within their personal areas of expertise.
Recently, a move has occurred to license behaviour analysts. Licensure’s purpose is to protect the public from employing unqualified practitioners.
The model licensing act states that a person is a behaviour analyst by training and experience. The person seeking licensure must have mastered behaviour analysis by achieving a master’s degree in behaviour analysis or related subject matter. Like all other master level licensed professions the model act sets the standard for a master’s degree. This requirement states that the person has achieved textbook knowledge of behaviour analysis which can be then tested through the exam offered by the BACB or the one offered by the World Centre for Behaviour Analysis. It also requires an internship in which a behaviour analysts works under another master or Ph.D. level behaviour analyst for a period of one year (750 hours) with at least two hours/week of supervision. Finally, those 750 hours are considered tutelage time. After that, the behaviour analyst must engage in supervised practice under a behaviour analyst for a period of another 2 years (2,000 hours).
Once this process is complete, the person applies to a state board who ensures that he or she has indeed met the above conditions. Once the person is licensed public protection is still monitored by the licensing board, which makes sure that the person receives sufficient ongoing education, and the licensing board investigates ethical complaints. A licensed behaviour analyst would have equal training, knowledge, skills and abilities in their discipline as would a mental health counsellor or marriage and family therapist in their discipline. In February 2008, Indiana, Arizona, Massachusetts, Vermont, Oklahoma and other states now have legislation pending to create licensure for behaviour analysts. Pennsylvania was the first state in 2008 to license “behaviour specialists” to cover behaviour analysts. Arizona, less than three weeks later, became the first state to license “behaviour analysts.” Other states such as New York, Nevada and Wisconsin also have passed behaviour analytic licensure.
The Association for Behaviour Analysis International has a special interest group for practitioner issues, which focuses on key issues related to licensing behaviour analysts. In addition, they have a practice board and a policy board to handle legislative issues ABA:I. Finally, the association has recently put out its own model licensing act for behaviour analysts.
Association for behaviour analysis international serves as the core intellectual home for behaviour analysts. The Association for Behaviour Analysis International sponsors 2 conferences per year – one in the US and one international.
CT is based on the cognitive model, which states that thoughts, feelings and behaviour are all connected, and that individuals can move toward overcoming difficulties and meeting their goals by identifying and changing unhelpful or inaccurate thinking, problematic behaviour, and distressing emotional responses. This involves the individual working collaboratively with the therapist to develop skills for testing and modifying beliefs, identifying distorted thinking, relating to others in different ways, and changing behaviours. A tailored cognitive case conceptualisation is developed by the cognitive therapist as a roadmap to understand the individual’s internal reality, select appropriate interventions and identify areas of distress.
Becoming disillusioned with long-term psychodynamic approaches based on gaining insight into unconscious emotions and drives, Beck came to the conclusion that the way in which his patients perceived, interpreted and attributed meaning in their daily lives – a process scientifically known as cognition – was a key to therapy. Albert Ellis had been working on similar ideas since the 1950s (Ellis, 1956). He called his approach Rational Therapy (RT) at first, then Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) and later Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT).
Beck outlined his approach in Depression: Causes and Treatment in 1967. He later expanded his focus to include anxiety disorders, in Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders in 1976, and other disorders and problems. He also introduced a focus on the underlying “schema” – the fundamental underlying ways in which people process information – about the self, the world or the future.
The new cognitive approach came into conflict with the behaviourism ascendant at the time, which denied that talk of mental causes was scientific or meaningful, rather than simply assessing stimuli and behavioural responses. However, the 1970s saw a general “cognitive revolution” in psychology. Behavioural modification techniques and cognitive therapy techniques became joined together, giving rise to cognitive behavioural therapy. Although cognitive therapy has always included some behavioural components, advocates of Beck’s particular approach seek to maintain and establish its integrity as a distinct, clearly standardised form of cognitive behavioural therapy in which the cognitive shift is the key mechanism of change.
Precursors of certain fundamental aspects of cognitive therapy have been identified in various ancient philosophical traditions, particularly Stoicism. For example, Beck’s original treatment manual for depression states, “The philosophical origins of cognitive therapy can be traced back to the Stoic philosophers”.
As cognitive therapy continued to grow in popularity, the Academy of Cognitive Therapy, a non-profit organisation, was created to accredit cognitive therapists, create a forum for members to share emerging research and interventions, and to educate consumer regarding cognitive therapy and related mental health issues.
Therapy may consist of testing the assumptions which one makes and looking for new information that could help shift the assumptions in a way that leads to different emotional or behavioral reactions. Change may begin by targeting thoughts (to change emotion and behavior), behavior (to change feelings and thoughts), or the individual’s goals (by identifying thoughts, feelings or behavior that conflict with the goals). Beck initially focused on depression and developed a list of “errors” (cognitive distortion) in thinking that he proposed could maintain depression, including arbitrary inference, selective abstraction, over-generalization, and magnification (of negatives) and minimization (of positives).
As an example of how CT might work: Having made a mistake at work, a man may believe, “I’m useless and can’t do anything right at work.” He may then focus on the mistake (which he takes as evidence that his belief is true), and his thoughts about being “useless” are likely to lead to negative emotion (frustration, sadness, hopelessness). Given these thoughts and feelings, he may then begin to avoid challenges at work, which is behaviour that could provide even more evidence for him that his belief is true. As a result, any adaptive response and further constructive consequences become unlikely, and he may focus even more on any mistakes he may make, which serve to reinforce the original belief of being “useless.” In therapy, this example could be identified as a self-fulfilling prophecy or “problem cycle,” and the efforts of the therapist and patient would be directed at working together to explore and shift this cycle.
People who are working with a cognitive therapist often practice the use of more flexible ways to think and respond, learning to ask themselves whether their thoughts are completely true, and whether those thoughts are helping them to meet their goals. Thoughts that do not meet this description may then be shifted to something more accurate or helpful, leading to more positive emotion, more desirable behaviour, and movement toward the person’s goals. Cognitive therapy takes a skill-building approach, where the therapist helps the person to learn and practice these skills independently, eventually “becoming his or her own therapist.”
The cognitive model was originally constructed following research studies conducted by Aaron Beck to explain the psychological processes in depression. It divides the mind beliefs in three levels:
Core belief or basic belief.
In 2014, an update of the cognitive model was proposed, called the Generic Cognitive Model (GCM). The GCM is an update of Beck’s model that proposes that mental disorders can be differentiated by the nature of their dysfunctional beliefs. The GCM includes a conceptual framework and a clinical approach for understanding common cognitive processes of mental disorders while specifying the unique features of the specific disorders.
Consistent with the cognitive theory of psychopathology, CT is designed to be structured, directive, active, and time-limited, with the express purpose of identifying, reality-testing, and correcting distorted cognition and underlying dysfunctional beliefs.
Cognitive Restructuring (Methods)
Cognitive restructuring involves four steps:
Identification of problematic cognitions known as “automatic thoughts” (ATs) which are dysfunctional or negative views of the self, world, or future based upon already existing beliefs about oneself, the world, or the future.
Identification of the cognitive distortions in the ATs.
Rational disputation of ATs with the Socratic method.
Development of a rational rebuttal to the ATs.
There are six types of automatic thoughts:
Thoughts about the evaluations of others.
Evaluative thoughts about the other person with whom they are interacting.
Thoughts about coping strategies and behavioural plans.
Thoughts of avoidance.
Any other thoughts that were not categorised.
Other major techniques include:
Activity monitoring and activity scheduling.
Catching, checking, and changing thoughts.
Therapist and patient become investigators by examining the evidence to support or reject the patient’s cognitions.
Empirical evidence is used to determine whether particular cognitions serve any useful purpose.
Downward arrow technique.
Exposure and response prevention.
Cost benefit analysis.
Acting ‘as if’.
Therapist elucidates behavioural problems and faulty thinking by designing new experiences that lead to acquisition of new skills and perspectives.
Through both cognitive and behavioural methods, the patient discovers more adaptive ways of thinking and coping with environmental stressors by correcting cognitive processing.
Mastery and pleasure technique.
Socratic questioning: involves the creation of a series of questions to
Clarify and define problems;
Assist in the identification of thoughts, images and assumptions;
Examine the meanings of events for the patient; and
Assess the consequences of maintaining maladaptive thoughts and behaviours.
Socratic questions are the archetypal cognitive restructuring techniques. These kinds of questions are designed to challenge assumptions by:
Conceiving reasonable alternatives:
‘What might be another explanation or viewpoint of the situation? Why else did it happen?’
Evaluating those consequences:
‘What’s the effect of thinking or believing this?
What could be the effect of thinking differently and no longer holding onto this belief?’
‘Imagine a specific friend/family member in the same situation or if they viewed the situation this way, what would I tell them?’
Examples of socratic questions include:
‘Describe the way you formed your viewpoint originally.‘
‘What initially convinced you that your current view is the best one available?‘
‘Think of three pieces of evidence that contradict this view, or that support the opposite view. Think about the opposite of this viewpoint and reflect on it for a moment. What’s the strongest argument in favour of this opposite view?‘
‘Write down any specific benefits you get from holding this belief, such as social or psychological benefits. For example, getting to be part of a community of like-minded people, feeling good about yourself or the world, feeling that your viewpoint is superior to others’, etc Are there any reasons that you might hold this view other than because it’s true?‘
‘For instance, does holding this viewpoint provide some peace of mind that holding a different viewpoint would not?‘
‘In order to refine your viewpoint so that it’s as accurate as possible, it’s important to challenge it directly on occasion and consider whether there are reasons that it might not be true. What do you think the best or strongest argument against this perspective is?‘
What would you have to experience or find out in order for you to change your ‘mind about this viewpoint?‘
Given your thoughts so far, do you think that there may be a truer, more accurate, or more nuanced version of your original view that you could state right ‘now?‘
False assumptions are based on ‘cognitive distortions’, such as:
Always Being Right: “We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.”
Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: “We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.”
Awfulising and Must-ing
Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) includes awfulising, when a person causes themselves disturbance by labelling an upcoming situation as ‘awful’, rather than envisaging how the situation may actually unfold, and Must-ing, when a person places a false demand on themselves that something ‘must’ happen (e.g. ‘I must get an A in this exam’.)
based on the cognitive model, stating that thoughts, feelings and behaviour are mutually influenced by each other. Shifting cognition is seen as the main mechanism by which lasting emotional and behavioural changes take place. Treatment is very collaborative, tailored, skill-focused, and based on a case conceptualisation.
Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT)
Based on the belief that most problems originate in erroneous or irrational thought. For instance, perfectionists and pessimists usually suffer from issues related to irrational thinking; for example, if a perfectionist encounters a small failure, he or she might perceive it as a much bigger failure. It is better to establish a reasonable standard emotionally, so the individual can live a balanced life. This form of cognitive therapy is an opportunity for the patient to learn of their current distortions and successfully eliminate them.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A system of approaches drawing from both the cognitive and behavioural systems of psychotherapy. CBT is an umbrella term for a group of therapies, where as CT is a discrete form of therapy.
According to Beck’s theory of the aetiology of depression, depressed people acquire a negative schema of the world in childhood and adolescence; children and adolescents who experience depression acquire this negative schema earlier. Depressed people acquire such schemas through a loss of a parent, rejection by peers, bullying, criticism from teachers or parents, the depressive attitude of a parent and other negative events. When the person with such schemas encounters a situation that resembles the original conditions of the learned schema in some way, the negative schemas of the person are activated.
Beck’s negative triad holds that depressed people have negative thoughts about themselves, their experiences in the world, and the future. For instance, a depressed person might think, “I didn’t get the job because I’m terrible at interviews. Interviewers never like me, and no one will ever want to hire me.” In the same situation, a person who is not depressed might think, “The interviewer wasn’t paying much attention to me. Maybe she already had someone else in mind for the job. Next time I’ll have better luck, and I’ll get a job soon.” Beck also identified a number of other cognitive distortions, which can contribute to depression, including the following:
In 2008 Beck proposed an integrative developmental model of depression that aims to incorporate research in genetics and neuroscience of depression. This model was updated in 2016 to incorporate multiple levels of analyses, new research, and key concepts (e.g. resilience) within the framework of an evolutionary perspective.
Cognitive therapy has been applied to a very wide range of behavioural health issues including:
A criticism has been that clinical studies of CBT efficacy (or any psychotherapy) are not double-blind (i.e. neither subjects nor therapists in psychotherapy studies are blind to the type of treatment). They may be single-blinded, the rater may not know the treatment the patient received, but neither the patients nor the therapists are blinded to the type of therapy given (two out of three of the persons involved in the trial, i.e., all of the persons involved in the treatment, are unblinded). The patient is an active participant in correcting negative distorted thoughts, thus quite aware of the treatment group they are in.
Behaviourism is a systematic approach to understanding the behaviour of humans and other animals. It assumes that behaviour is either a reflex evoked by the pairing of certain antecedent stimuli in the environment, or a consequence of that individual’s history, including especially reinforcement and punishment contingencies, together with the individual’s current motivational state and controlling stimuli. Although behaviourists generally accept the important role of heredity in determining behaviour, they focus primarily on environmental events.
It combines elements of philosophy, methodology, and theory. Behaviourism emerged in the early 1900s as a reaction to depth psychology and other traditional forms of psychology, which often had difficulty making predictions that could be tested experimentally, but derived from earlier research in the late nineteenth century, such as when Edward Thorndike pioneered the law of effect, a procedure that involved the use of consequences to strengthen or weaken behaviour.
During the first half of the twentieth century, John B. Watson devised methodological behaviourism, which rejected introspective methods and sought to understand behaviour by only measuring observable behaviours and events. It was not until the 1930s that B.F. Skinner suggested that covert behaviour – including cognition and emotions – subjects to the same controlling variables as observable behaviour, which became the basis for his philosophy called radical behaviourism. While Watson and Ivan Pavlov investigated how (conditioned) neutral stimuli elicit reflexes in respondent conditioning, Skinner assessed the reinforcement histories of the discriminative (antecedent) stimuli that emits behaviour; the technique became known as operant conditioning.
The application of radical behaviourism – known as applied behaviour analysis – is used in a variety of contexts, including, for example, applied animal behaviour and organisational behaviour management to treatment of mental disorders, such as autism and substance abuse. In addition, while behaviourism and cognitive schools of psychological thought do not agree theoretically, they have complemented each other in the cognitive-behaviour therapies, which have demonstrated utility in treating certain pathologies, including simple phobias, PTSD, and mood disorders.
Branches of Behaviourism
An outline of the various branches of behaviourism can be seen the table below.
Proposed by Jacob Robert Kantor before B. F. Skinner’s writings.
1. John B. Watson’s behaviourism states that only public events (motor behaviours of an individual) can be objectively observed. 2. Although it was still acknowledged that thoughts and feelings exist, they were not considered part of the science of behaviour. 3. It also laid the theoretical foundation for the early approach behaviour modification in the 1970s and early 1980s.
1. As proposed by Arthur W. Staats, unlike the previous behaviourisms of Skinner, Hull, and Tolman, was based upon a program of human research involving various types of human behaviour. 2. Psychological behaviourism introduces new principles of human learning. 3. Humans learn not only by the animal learning principles but also by special human learning principles. 4. Those principles involve humans’ uniquely huge learning ability. 5. Humans learn repertoires that enable them to learn other things. Human learning is thus cumulative. 6. No other animal demonstrates that ability, making the human species unique.
1. Skinner’s philosophy is an extension of Watson’s form of behaviourism by theorising that processes within the organism – particularly, private events, such as thoughts and feelings – are also part of the science of behaviour, and suggests that environmental variables control these internal events just as they control observable behaviours. 2. Although private events cannot be directly seen by others, they are later determined through the species’ overt behaviour. 3. Radical behaviourism forms the core philosophy behind behaviour analysis. 4. Willard Van Orman Quine used many of radical behaviourism’s ideas in his study of knowledge and language.
1. Proposed by Howard Rachlin, post-Skinnerian, purposive, close to microeconomics. Focuses on objective observation as opposed to cognitive processes.
1. Proposed by J.E.R. Staddon, adds a concept of internal state to allow for the effects of context. 2. According to theoretical behaviourism, a state is a set of equivalent histories, i.e., past histories in which members of the same stimulus class produce members of the same response class (i.e., B.F. Skinner’s concept of the operant). 3. Conditioned stimuli are thus seen to control neither stimulus nor response but state. 4. Theoretical behaviourism is a logical extension of Skinner’s class-based (generic) definition of the operant.
Hullian & Post-Hullian
1. A sub-type of theoretical behaviourism. 2. Theoretical, group data, not dynamic, physiological.
1. A sub-type of theoretical behaviourism. 2. Tolman’s behaviouristic anticipation of cognitive psychology
Modern-Day Theory: Radical Behaviourism
B.F. Skinner proposed radical behaviourism as the conceptual underpinning of the experimental analysis of behaviour. This viewpoint differs from other approaches to behavioural research in various ways, but, most notably here, it contrasts with methodological behaviourism in accepting feelings, states of mind and introspection as behaviours also subject to scientific investigation. Like methodological behaviourism, it rejects the reflex as a model of all behaviour, and it defends the science of behaviour as complementary to but independent of physiology. Radical behaviourism overlaps considerably with other western philosophical positions, such as American pragmatism.
Although John B. Watson mainly emphasized his position of methodological behaviourism throughout his career, Watson and Rosalie Rayner conducted the renowned Little Albert experiment (1920), a study in which Ivan Pavlov’s theory to respondent conditioning was first applied to eliciting a fearful reflex of crying in a human infant, and this became the launching point for understanding covert behaviour (or private events) in radical behaviourism. However, Skinner felt that aversive stimuli should only be experimented on with animals and spoke out against Watson for testing something so controversial on a human.
In 1959, Skinner observed the emotions of two pigeons by noting that they appeared angry because their feathers ruffled. The pigeons were placed together in an operant chamber, where they were aggressive as a consequence of previous reinforcement in the environment. Through stimulus control and subsequent discrimination training, whenever Skinner turned off the green light, the pigeons came to notice that the food reinforcer is discontinued following each peck and responded without aggression. Skinner concluded that humans also learn aggression and possess such emotions (as well as other private events) no differently than do nonhuman animals.
Experimental and Conceptual Innovations
This essentially philosophical position gained strength from the success of Skinner’s early experimental work with rats and pigeons, summarized in his books The Behaviour of Organisms and Schedules of Reinforcement. Of particular importance was his concept of the operant response, of which the canonical example was the rat’s lever-press. In contrast with the idea of a physiological or reflex response, an operant is a class of structurally distinct but functionally equivalent responses. For example, while a rat might press a lever with its left paw or its right paw or its tail, all of these responses operate on the world in the same way and have a common consequence. Operants are often thought of as species of responses, where the individuals differ but the class coheres in its function-shared consequences with operants and reproductive success with species. This is a clear distinction between Skinner’s theory and S-R theory.
Skinner’s empirical work expanded on earlier research on trial-and-error learning by researchers such as Thorndike and Guthrie with both conceptual reformulations – Thorndike’s notion of a stimulus-response “association” or “connection” was abandoned; and methodological ones – the use of the “free operant”, so called because the animal was now permitted to respond at its own rate rather than in a series of trials determined by the experimenter procedures. With this method, Skinner carried out substantial experimental work on the effects of different schedules and rates of reinforcement on the rates of operant responses made by rats and pigeons. He achieved remarkable success in training animals to perform unexpected responses, to emit large numbers of responses, and to demonstrate many empirical regularities at the purely behavioural level. This lent some credibility to his conceptual analysis. It is largely his conceptual analysis that made his work much more rigorous than his peers’, a point which can be seen clearly in his seminal work Are Theories of Learning Necessary? in which he criticizes what he viewed to be theoretical weaknesses then common in the study of psychology. An important descendant of the experimental analysis of behaviour is the Society for Quantitative Analysis of Behaviour.
Relation to Language
As Skinner turned from experimental work to concentrate on the philosophical underpinnings of a science of behaviour, his attention turned to human language with his 1957 book Verbal Behaviour and other language-related publications; Verbal Behaviour laid out a vocabulary and theory for functional analysis of verbal behaviour, and was strongly criticised in a review by Noam Chomsky.
Skinner did not respond in detail but claimed that Chomsky failed to understand his ideas, and the disagreements between the two and the theories involved have been further discussed. Innateness theory, which has been heavily critiqued, is opposed to behaviourist theory which claims that language is a set of habits that can be acquired by means of conditioning. According to some, the behaviourist account is a process which would be too slow to explain a phenomenon as complicated as language learning. What was important for a behaviourist’s analysis of human behaviour was not language acquisition so much as the interaction between language and overt behaviour. In an essay republished in his 1969 book Contingencies of Reinforcement, Skinner took the view that humans could construct linguistic stimuli that would then acquire control over their behaviour in the same way that external stimuli could. The possibility of such “instructional control” over behaviour meant that contingencies of reinforcement would not always produce the same effects on human behaviour as they reliably do in other animals. The focus of a radical behaviourist analysis of human behaviour therefore shifted to an attempt to understand the interaction between instructional control and contingency control, and also to understand the behavioural processes that determine what instructions are constructed and what control they acquire over behaviour. Recently, a new line of behavioural research on language was started under the name of relational frame theory.
Behaviourism focuses on one particular view of learning: a change in external behaviour achieved through using reinforcement and repetition (Rote learning) to shape behaviour of learners. Skinner found that behaviours could be shaped when the use of reinforcement was implemented. Desired behaviour is rewarded, while the undesired behaviour is not rewarded. Incorporating behaviourism into the classroom allowed educators to assist their students in excelling both academically and personally. In the field of language learning, this type of teaching was called the audio-lingual method, characterised by the whole class using choral chanting of key phrases, dialogues and immediate correction.
Within the behaviourist view of learning, the “teacher” is the dominant person in the classroom and takes complete control, evaluation of learning comes from the teacher who decides what is right or wrong. The learner does not have any opportunity for evaluation or reflection within the learning process, they are simply told what is right or wrong. The conceptualisation of learning using this approach could be considered “superficial,” as the focus is on external changes in behaviour, i.e., not interested in the internal processes of learning leading to behaviour change and has no place for the emotions involved in the process.
Operant conditioning was developed by B.F. Skinner in 1937 and deals with the management of environmental contingencies to change behaviour. In other words, behaviour is controlled by historical consequential contingencies, particularly reinforcement – a stimulus that increases the probability of performing behaviours, and punishment – a stimulus that decreases such probability. The core tools of consequences are either positive (presenting stimuli following a response), or negative (withdrawn stimuli following a response).
The following descriptions explain the concepts of four common types of consequences in operant conditioning.
1. Providing a stimulus that an individual desires to reinforce desired behaviours. 2. For example, a child loves playing video games. 3. His mother reinforced his tendency to provide a helping hands to other family members by providing more time for him to play video games.
1. Removing a stimulus that an individual does not desire to reinforce desired behaviours. 3. For example, a child hates being nagged to clean his room. 3. His mother reinforces his room cleaning by removing the undesired stimulus of nagging after he has cleaned.
1. Providing a stimulus that an individual does not desire to decrease undesired behaviours. 2. For example, a child hates to do chores. 3. His parents will try to reduce the undesired behaviour of failing a test by applying the undesired stimuli of having him do more chores around the house.
1. Removing a stimulus that an individual desires in order to decrease undesired behaviours. 2. For example, a child loves playing video games. 3. His parents will try to reduce the undesired behaviour of failing an exam by removing the desired stimulus of video games.
Classical experiment in operant conditioning, for example the Skinner Box, “puzzle box” or operant conditioning chamber to test the effects of operant conditioning principles on rats, cats and other species. From the study of Skinner box, he discovered that the rats learned very effectively if they were rewarded frequently with food. Skinner also found that he could shape the rats’ behaviour through the use of rewards, which could, in turn, be applied to human learning as well.
Skinner’s model was based on the premise that reinforcement is used for the desired actions or responses while punishment was used to stop the undesired actions responses that are not. This theory proved that humans or animals will repeat any action that leads to a positive outcome, and avoiding any action that leads to a negative outcome. The experiment with the pigeons showed that a positive outcome leads to learned behaviour since the pigeon learned to peck the disc in return for the reward of food.
These historical consequential contingencies subsequently leads to (antecedent) stimulus control, but in contrast to respondent conditioning where antecedent stimuli elicits reflexive behavior, operant behavior is only emitted and therefore does not force its occurrence. It includes the following controlling stimuli:
Discriminative stimulus (Sd):
An antecedent stimulus that increases the chance of the organism engaging in a behaviour.
One example of this occurred in Skinner’s laboratory.
Whenever the green light (Sd) appeared, it signalled the pigeon to perform the behaviour of pecking because it learned in the past that each time it pecked, food was presented (the positive reinforcing stimulus).
Stimulus delta (S-delta):
An antecedent stimulus that signals the organism not to perform a behaviour since it was extinguished or punished in the past.
One notable instance of this occurs when a person stops their car immediately after the traffic light turns red (S-delta).
However, the person could decide to drive through the red light, but subsequently receive a speeding ticket (the positive punishing stimulus), so this behaviour will potentially not reoccur following the presence of the S-delta.
Although operant conditioning plays the largest role in discussions of behavioural mechanisms, respondent conditioning (also called Pavlovian or classical conditioning) is also an important behaviour-analytic process that need not refer to mental or other internal processes. Pavlov’s experiments with dogs provide the most familiar example of the classical conditioning procedure. At the beginning, the dog was provided a meat (unconditioned stimulus, UCS, naturally elicit a response that is not controlled) to eat, resulting in increased salivation (unconditioned response, UCR, which means that a response is naturally caused by UCS). Afterwards, a bell ring was presented together with food to the dog. Although bell ring was a neutral stimulus (NS, meaning that the stimulus did not had any effect), dog would start salivate when only hearing a bell ring after a number of pairings. Eventually, the neutral stimulus (bell ring) became conditioned. Therefore, salvation was elicited as a conditioned response (the response same as the unconditioned response), pairing up with meat – the conditioned stimulus). Although Pavlov proposed some tentative physiological processes that might be involved in classical conditioning, these have not been confirmed. The idea of classical conditioning helped behaviourist John Watson discover the key mechanism behind how humans acquire the behaviours that they do, which was to find a natural reflex that produces the response being considered.
Watson’s “Behaviourist Manifesto” has three aspects that deserve special recognition: one is that psychology should be purely objective, with any interpretation of conscious experience being removed, thus leading to psychology as the “science of behaviour”; the second one is that the goals of psychology should be to predict and control behaviour (as opposed to describe and explain conscious mental states); the third one is that there is no notable distinction between human and non-human behaviour. Following Darwin’s theory of evolution, this would simply mean that human behaviour is just a more complex version in respect to behaviour displayed by other species.
Behaviourism is a psychological movement that can be contrasted with philosophy of mind. The basic premise of radical behaviourism is that the study of behaviour should be a natural science, such as chemistry or physics, without any reference to hypothetical inner states of organisms as causes for their behaviour. Behaviourism takes a functional view of behaviour. According to Edmund Fantino and colleagues: “Behaviour analysis has much to offer the study of phenomena normally dominated by cognitive and social psychologists. We hope that successful application of behavioural theory and methodology will not only shed light on central problems in judgment and choice but will also generate greater appreciation of the behavioural approach.”
Behaviourist sentiments are not uncommon within philosophy of language and analytic philosophy. It is sometimes argued that Ludwig Wittgenstein defended a logical behaviourist position (e.g. the beetle in a box argument). In logical positivism (as held, e.g. by Rudolf Carnap and Carl Hempel), the meaning of psychological statements are their verification conditions, which consist of performed overt behaviour. W.V.O. Quine made use of a type of behaviourism, influenced by some of Skinner’s ideas, in his own work on language. Quine’s work in semantics differed substantially from the empiricist semantics of Carnap which he attempted to create an alternative to, couching his semantic theory in references to physical objects rather than sensations. Gilbert Ryle defended a distinct strain of philosophical behaviourism, sketched in his book The Concept of Mind. Ryle’s central claim was that instances of dualism frequently represented “category mistakes”, and hence that they were really misunderstandings of the use of ordinary language. Daniel Dennett likewise acknowledges himself to be a type of behaviourist, though he offers extensive criticism of radical behaviourism and refutes Skinner’s rejection of the value of intentional idioms and the possibility of free will.
This is Dennett’s main point in “Skinner Skinned.” Dennett argues that there is a crucial difference between explaining and explaining away… If our explanation of apparently rational behavior turns out to be extremely simple, we may want to say that the behavior was not really rational after all. But if the explanation is very complex and intricate, we may want to say not that the behavior is not rational, but that we now have a better understanding of what rationality consists in. (Compare: if we find out how a computer program solves problems in linear algebra, we don’t say it’s not really solving them, we just say we know how it does it. On the other hand, in cases like Weizenbaum’s ELIZA program, the explanation of how the computer carries on a conversation is so simple that the right thing to say seems to be that the machine isn’t really carrying on a conversation, it’s just a trick.) (Curtis Brown, Philosophy of Mind, “Behaviorism: Skinner and Dennett”).
Law of Effect and Trace Conditioning
Law of Effect:
Although Edward Thorndike’s methodology mainly dealt with reinforcing observable behaviour, it viewed cognitive antecedents as the causes of behaviour, and was theoretically much more similar to the cognitive-behaviour therapies than classical (methodological) or modern-day (radical) behaviourism.
Nevertheless, Skinner’s operant conditioning was heavily influenced by the Law of Effect’s principle of reinforcement.
Akin to B.F. Skinner’s radical behaviourism, it is a respondent conditioning technique based on Ivan Pavlov’s concept of a “memory trace” in which the observer recalls the conditioned stimulus (CS), with the memory or recall being the unconditioned response (UR).
There is also a time delay between the CS and unconditioned stimulus (US), causing the conditioned response (CR) – particularly the reflex – to be faded over time.
Molecular versus Molar Behaviourism
Skinner’s view of behaviour is most often characterised as a “molecular” view of behaviour; that is, behaviour can be decomposed into atomistic parts or molecules. This view is inconsistent with Skinner’s complete description of behaviour as delineated in other works, including his 1981 article “Selection by Consequences”. Skinner proposed that a complete account of behaviour requires understanding of selection history at three levels: biology (the natural selection or phylogeny of the animal); behaviour (the reinforcement history or ontogeny of the behavioual repertoire of the animal); and for some species, culture (the cultural practices of the social group to which the animal belongs). This whole organism then interacts with its environment. Molecular behaviourists use notions from melioration theory, negative power function discounting or additive versions of negative power function discounting.
Molar behaviourists, such as Howard Rachlin, Richard Herrnstein, and William Baum, argue that behaviour cannot be understood by focusing on events in the moment. That is, they argue that behaviour is best understood as the ultimate product of an organism’s history and that molecular behaviourists are committing a fallacy by inventing fictitious proximal causes for behaviour. Molar behaviourists argue that standard molecular constructs, such as “associative strength”, are better replaced by molar variables such as rate of reinforcement. Thus, a molar behaviourist would describe “loving someone” as a pattern of loving behaviour over time; there is no isolated, proximal cause of loving behaviour, only a history of behaviours (of which the current behaviour might be an example) that can be summarised as “love”.
Skinner’s radical behaviourism has been highly successful experimentally, revealing new phenomena with new methods, but Skinner’s dismissal of theory limited its development. Theoretical behaviourism recognised that a historical system, an organism, has a state as well as sensitivity to stimuli and the ability to emit responses. Indeed, Skinner himself acknowledged the possibility of what he called “latent” responses in humans, even though he neglected to extend this idea to rats and pigeons. Latent responses constitute a repertoire, from which operant reinforcement can select. Theoretical behaviourism links between the brain and the behaviour that provides a real understanding of the behaviour. Rather than a mental presumption of how brain-behaviour relates.
Behaviour Analysis and Culture
Cultural analysis has always been at the philosophical core of radical behaviourism from the early days (as seen in Skinner’s Walden Two, Science & Human Behaviour, Beyond Freedom & Dignity, and About Behaviourism).
During the 1980s, behaviour analysts, most notably Sigrid Glenn, had a productive interchange with cultural anthropologist Marvin Harris (the most notable proponent of “cultural materialism”) regarding interdisciplinary work. Very recently, behaviour analysts have produced a set of basic exploratory experiments in an effort toward this end. Behaviourism is also frequently used in game development, although this application is controversial.
Behaviour Informatics and Behaviour Computing
With the fast growth of big behavioural data and applications, behaviour analysis is ubiquitous. Understanding behaviour from the informatics and computing perspective becomes increasingly critical for in-depth understanding of what, why and how behaviours are formed, interact, evolve, change and affect business and decision. Behaviour informatics and behaviour computing deeply explore behaviour intelligence and behaviour insights from the informatics and computing perspectives.
Criticisms and Limitations
In the second half of the 20th century, behaviourism was largely eclipsed as a result of the cognitive revolution. This shift was due to radical behaviourism being highly criticised for not examining mental processes, and this led to the development of the cognitive therapy movement. In the mid-20th century, three main influences arose that would inspire and shape cognitive psychology as a formal school of thought:
Noam Chomsky’s 1959 critique of behaviourism, and empiricism more generally, initiated what would come to be known as the “cognitive revolution”.
Developments in computer science would lead to parallels being drawn between human thought and the computational functionality of computers, opening entirely new areas of psychological thought. Allen Newell and Herbert Simon spent years developing the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) and later worked with cognitive psychologists regarding the implications of AI. The effective result was more of a framework conceptualisation of mental functions with their counterparts in computers (memory, storage, retrieval, etc.)
Formal recognition of the field involved the establishment of research institutions such as George Mandler’s Center for Human Information Processing in 1964. Mandler described the origins of cognitive psychology in a 2002 article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences.
In the early years of cognitive psychology, behaviourist critics held that the empiricism it pursued was incompatible with the concept of internal mental states. Cognitive neuroscience, however, continues to gather evidence of direct correlations between physiological brain activity and putative mental states, endorsing the basis for cognitive psychology.
Behaviour therapy is a term referring to different types of therapies that treat mental health disorders. It identifies and helps change people’s unhealthy behaviours or destructive behaviours through learning theory and conditioning. Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning, as well as counterconditioning are the basis for much of clinical behaviour therapy, but also includes other techniques, including operant conditioning, or contingency management, and modelling – sometimes called observational learning. A frequently noted behaviour therapy is systematic desensitisation, which was first demonstrated by Joseph Wolpe and Arnold Lazarus.
21st-Century Behaviourism (Behaviour Analysis)
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) – also called behavioural engineering – is a scientific discipline that applies the principles of behaviour analysis to change behaviour. ABA derived from much earlier research in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behaviour, which was founded by B.F. Skinner and his colleagues at Harvard University. Nearly a decade after the study “The psychiatric nurse as a behavioural engineer” (1959) was published in that journal, which demonstrated how effective the token economy was in reinforcing more adaptive behaviour for hospitalised patients with schizophrenia and intellectual disability, it led to researchers at the University of Kansas to start the Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis in 1968.
Although ABA and behaviour modification are similar behaviour-change technologies in that the learning environment is modified through respondent and operant conditioning, behaviour modification did not initially address the causes of the behaviour (particularly, the environmental stimuli that occurred in the past), or investigate solutions that would otherwise prevent the behaviour from reoccurring. As the evolution of ABA began to unfold in the mid-1980s, functional behaviour assessments (FBAs) were developed to clarify the function of that behaviour, so that it is accurately determined which differential reinforcement contingencies will be most effective and less likely for aversive consequences to be administered. In addition, methodological behaviourism was the theory underpinning behaviour modification since private events were not conceptualised during the 1970s and early 1980s, which contrasted from the radical behaviourism of behaviour analysis. ABA – the term that replaced behaviour modification – has emerged into a thriving field.
The independent development of behaviour analysis outside the United States also continues to develop. In the US, the American Psychological Association (APA) features a subdivision for Behaviour Analysis, titled APA Division 25: Behaviour Analysis, which has been in existence since 1964, and the interests among behaviour analysts today are wide-ranging, as indicated in a review of the 30 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) within the Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI). Such interests include everything from animal behaviour and environmental conservation, to classroom instruction (such as direct instruction and precision teaching), verbal behaviour, developmental disabilities and autism, clinical psychology (i.e., forensic behaviour analysis), behavioural medicine (i.e., behavioural gerontology, AIDS prevention, and fitness training), and consumer behaviour analysis.
The field of applied animal behaviour – a sub-discipline of ABA that involves training animals – is regulated by the Animal Behaviour Society, and those who practice this technique are called applied animal behaviourists. Research on applied animal behaviour has been frequently conducted in the Applied Animal Behaviour Science journal since its founding in 1974.
ABA has also been particularly well-established in the area of developmental disabilities since the 1960s, but it was not until the late 1980s that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders were beginning to grow so rapidly and groundbreaking research was being published that parent advocacy groups started demanding for services throughout the 1990s, which encouraged the formation of the Behaviour Analyst Certification Board, a credentialing program that certifies professionally trained behaviour analysts on the national level to deliver such services. Nevertheless, the certification is applicable to all human services related to the rather broad field of behaviour analysis (other than the treatment for autism), and the ABAI currently has 14 accredited MA and PhD programmes for comprehensive study in that field.
Early behavioural interventions (EBIs) based on ABA are empirically validated for teaching children with autism and has been proven as such for over the past five decades. Since the late 1990s and throughout the twenty-first century, early ABA interventions have also been identified as the treatment of choice by the US Surgeon General, American Academy of Paediatrics, and US National Research Council.
Discrete trial training – also called early intensive behavioural intervention – is the traditional EBI technique implemented for thirty to forty hours per week that instructs a child to sit in a chair, imitate fine and gross motor behaviours, as well as learn eye contact and speech, which are taught through shaping, modelling, and prompting, with such prompting being phased out as the child begins mastering each skill. When the child becomes more verbal from discrete trials, the table-based instructions are later discontinued, and another EBI procedure known as incidental teaching is introduced in the natural environment by having the child ask for desired items kept out of their direct access, as well as allowing the child to choose the play activities that will motivate them to engage with their facilitators before teaching the child how to interact with other children their own age.
A related term for incidental teaching, called pivotal response treatment (PRT), refers to EBI procedures that exclusively entail twenty-five hours per week of naturalistic teaching (without initially using discrete trials). Current research is showing that the majority of the population learn more words at a quicker pace through PRT since only a small portion of the non-verbal autistic population have lower receptive language skills – a phrase used to describe individuals who do not pay much attention to overt stimuli or others in their environment – and the latter are the children who initially require discrete trials to acquire speech.
Organizational behaviour management, which applies contingency management procedures to model and reinforce appropriate work behaviour for employees in organisations, has developed a particularly strong following within ABA, as evidenced by the formation of the OBM Network and Journal of Organisational Behaviour Management, which was rated the third highest impact journal in applied psychology by ISI JOBM rating.
Modern-day clinical behaviour analysis has also witnessed a massive resurgence in research, with the development of relational frame theory (RFT), which is described as an extension of verbal behaviour and a “post-Skinnerian account of language and cognition.” RFT also forms the empirical basis for acceptance and commitment therapy, a therapeutic approach to counselling often used to manage such conditions as anxiety and obesity that consists of acceptance and commitment, value-based living, cognitive defusion, counterconditioning (mindfulness), and contingency management (positive reinforcement). Another evidence-based counselling technique derived from RFT is the functional analytic psychotherapy known as behavioural activation that relies on the ACL model – awareness, courage, and love – to reinforce more positive moods for those struggling with depression.
Incentive-based contingency management (CM) is the standard of care for adults with substance-use disorders; it has also been shown to be highly effective for other addictions (i.e. obesity and gambling). Although it does not directly address the underlying causes of behaviour, incentive-based CM is highly behaviour analytic as it targets the function of the client’s motivational behaviour by relying on a preference assessment, which is an assessment procedure that allows the individual to select the preferred reinforcer (in this case, the monetary value of the voucher, or the use of other incentives, such as prizes). Another evidence-based CM intervention for substance abuse is community reinforcement approach and family training that uses FBAs and counterconditioning techniques – such as behavioural skills training and relapse prevention – to model and reinforce healthier lifestyle choices which promote self-management of abstinence from drugs, alcohol, or cigarette smoking during high-risk exposure when engaging with family members, friends, and co-workers.
While schoolwide positive behaviour support consists of conducting assessments and a task analysis plan to differentially reinforce curricular supports that replace students’ disruptive behaviour in the classroom, paediatric feeding therapy incorporates a liquid chaser and chin feeder to shape proper eating behaviour for children with feeding disorders. Habit reversal training, an approach firmly grounded in counterconditioning which uses contingency management procedures to reinforce alternative behaviour, is currently the only empirically validated approach for managing tic disorders.
Some studies on exposure (desensitisation) therapies – which refer to an array of interventions based on the respondent conditioning procedure known as habituation and typically infuses counterconditioning procedures, such as meditation and breathing exercises – have recently been published in behaviour analytic journals since the 1990s, as most other research are conducted from a cognitive-behaviour therapy framework. When based on a behaviour analytic research standpoint, FBAs are implemented to precisely outline how to employ the flooding form of desensitisation (also called direct exposure therapy) for those who are unsuccessful in overcoming their specific phobia through systematic desensitisation (also known as graduated exposure therapy). These studies also reveal that systematic desensitisation is more effective for children if used in conjunction with shaping, which is further termed contact desensitisation, but this comparison has yet to be substantiated with adults.
Other widely published behaviour analytic journals include Behaviour Modification, The Behaviour Analyst, Journal of Positive Behaviour Interventions, Journal of Contextual Behavioural Science, The Analysis of Verbal Behaviour, Behaviour and Philosophy, Behaviour and Social Issues, and The Psychological Record.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a behaviour therapy discipline that often overlaps considerably with the clinical behaviour analysis subfield of ABA, but differs in that it initially incorporates cognitive restructuring and emotional regulation to alter a person’s cognition and emotions.
A popularly noted counselling intervention known as dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) includes the use of a chain analysis, as well as cognitive restructuring, emotional regulation, distress tolerance, counterconditioning (mindfulness), and contingency management (positive reinforcement). DBT is quite similar to acceptance and commitment therapy, but contrasts in that it derives from a CBT framework. Although DBT is most widely researched for and empirically validated to reduce the risk of suicide in psychiatric patients with borderline personality disorder, it can often be applied effectively to other mental health conditions, such as substance abuse, as well as mood and eating disorders.
Most research on exposure therapies (also called desensitisation) – ranging from eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy to exposure and response prevention – are conducted through a CBT framework in non-behaviour analytic journals, and these enhanced exposure therapies are well-established in the research literature for treating phobic, post-traumatic stress, and other anxiety disorders (such as obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD).
Cognitive-based behavioural activation (BA) – the psychotherapeutic approach used for depression – is shown to be highly effective and is widely used in clinical practice. Some large randomised control trials have indicated that cognitive-based BA is as beneficial as antidepressant medications but more efficacious than traditional cognitive therapy. Other commonly used clinical treatments derived from behavioural learning principles that are often implemented through a CBT model include community reinforcement approach and family training, and habit reversal training for substance abuse and tics, respectively.