What Is the Behaviorist Perspective?

The behaviorist perspective is a theory of psychology that states that human behaviors are learned, not innate. The behaviorist approach asserts that human beings have no free will and that all actions, characteristics and personality traits are the result of a person’s environment and the cultural forces that shape it, according to Simply Psychology.

The behaviorist perspective derives from Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiment with dogs. Pavlov’s experiment consisted of ringing a bell each time he fed the dogs he was observing. Eventually the dogs began to salivate each time they heard the bell ring, even when they were not given food. They associated the bell with the gratification that comes with eating. Pavlov’s experiment paved the way for other notable psychologists, such as John Watson, who is considered the true father of behaviorism.

Watson established the first behaviorist school and the first psychological approach to behavior studies, known as classical conditioning. In 1913, he published “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It,” a famous psychological research paper that outlines the behaviorist theory. Watson is also famous for conditioning a small boy, known as “Little Albert,” to fear a white rat. This experiment adds credit to the behaviorist perspective that holds all human behaviors, traits and characteristics are learned from experience.