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What is Radical Behaviorism?

Meaning of Radical Behaviorism

In 1945, Burrhus Skinner published the book “The Operational Analysis of Psychological Terms”, as an attempt to respond to the internalist currents of behaviorism and also influenced by philosophical behaviorism.

With the publication of this book, the origin of the behavioral trend called radical behavior was marked, which was developed not as an area of ​​experimental research, but as a proposal for reflection on human behavior.

Empirical research is the field of experimental behavior analysis, while practical implementation is part of applied behavior analysis.

In this sense, radical behaviorism is a philosophy of behavioral science.

Skinner was radically anti-mentalist, since he considered the internalist notions (mental elements as the origin of behavior) that make up the various existing psychological theories to be non-pragmatic. Despite this,

Skinner never denied the existence of mental processes in his theory, he only argued that it is unproductive to search for these variables to motivate human attitudes.

According to Skinner’s thought, when analyzing a behavior (cognitive, emotional or motor), it is necessary to consider the context in which it occurs and the events involved in this behavior.

Skinnerian behaviorism denies the scientific importance of mediational indicators, since for Skinner the human being is a unique and uniform entity, opposing the idea of ​​man as a body and mind compound, because for him it is not possible to dissociate or distinguish human elements .

The principles of operant conditioning were developed by Skinner, in addition to systematizing the model of selection by consequences to explain a behavior.

Operant conditioning theory follows the principle that the occurrence of a stimulus called a discriminative stimulus increases the probability that a response will occur, and after the response follows a reinforcing stimulus, which can be a reinforcement (positive or negative) that stimulates the response. behavior (increasing its probability of occurrence), or a punishment that inhibits the occurrence of the behavior later in similar situations.

In addition to what has been said about human behavior, radical behaviorism proposes to explain animal behavior through the consequence selection paradigm.

Radical behaviorism proposes, in this way, a paradigm of statistical and non-linear conditioning, in opposition to the linear paradigm and reflection of the previous theoretical lines of behaviorism.

In short, Skinner argues that most human behavior is operationally conditioned.

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