Chapter 19

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Chapter 19 THE DEVELOPMENT AND DEVELOPERS OF BEHAVIOR THERAPY Unlike many of the theories discussed in this book, behavior therapy is not strongly associated with one or two names. Instead, many people contributed to the evolution of this approach. Some, like E ysenck, Lazarus, Wolpe, Dollard and Miller, Krumboltz, and Bandura, applied behavior therapy and learning theory to people. Others, including Skinner, Harlow, and Pavlov, used principles of behavior change to shape the actions and reactions of animals. All of these contributed to the development of behavior therapy. B. F. Skinner B. F. Skinner, an experimental psychologist, may be the best-known behavioral theorist. Skinner received many awards for his contributions to psychology from the 1950s until his death. He emphasized the orderliness of behavior and sought principles to describe and predict behavioral patterns as well as ways to modify behavior. His ideas, known as operant reinforcement theory (Skinner, 1969 ), postulate that how often a behavior will be emitted is largely determined by the events that follow that behavior. Drawing on the principles of operant conditioning in one of his studies, Skinner used rewards to gradually shape pigeons’ naturally emitted behaviors until the pigeons learned to peck at a red disc. Similarly, children’s behavior can be shaped through parental reinforcement; for example, parents who attend primarily to children’s misbehavior inadvertently reinforce that behavior. Ivan Pavlov In the early 1900s, Ivan Pavlov ( 1927 ), a Russian physiologist, identified and described a type of learning that now is known as classical conditioning . His study of conditioning dogs’ responses is well known. Pavlov demonstrated that, by simultaneously presenting an unconditioned stimulus (meat paste) and a conditioned stimulus (the sound of a tuning fork), researchers could elicit the dogs’ salivation using only the conditioned stimulus (the sound) because the dogs learned to associate the sound with the meat. Pavlov also studied the process of extinction . For a while, the dogs in his study salivated to the sound of the tuning fork, even when the sound was no longer accompanied by the meat. However, over time, the salivating response diminished and eventually disappeared in response to the tuning fork alone. John W. Watson John W. Watson, an American psychologist, used Pavlov’s principles of classical conditioning and stimulus generalization , along with concepts of learning theory, to change human behavior. Rejecting psychoanalysis, then the prevailing treatment approach, Watson ( 1925 ) proposed what he called behaviorism . Watson demonstrated that an unconditioned stimulus (a loud bell), paired with a conditioned stimulus (a white rat), could lead a child to emit a conditioned response (startle) in reaction not only to a white rat but also to white cotton and Watson’s white hair. John Dollard and Neal Miller
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