Home | BEHAVIORISM, language and concepts | OPERANT CONDITIONING, textbook examples of application | CONTROL OF EATING BEHAVIOR--jk | 5 Insightful Accounts of quarrelsome behavior--jk | Anorexia, a case study & model on treatment | The Art of Loving: A Behaviorist Approach--jk | Psychiatric Hotline (humor) | WHY BEHAVIORISM--JK | Ontology of Behaviorism, and related topics--jk | Key Concepts in Behaviorism--jk | Billy's Cancer: Faith & Verbal Behavior


Key Concepts in Behaviorism--jk

Key concepts


Thoughts are silent whispers:  this entails that the private event of thinking is no different in kind than verbal behavior.  Thus thought’s role and ontological status are essential the same as its noisy brother.


Thoughts are an epiphenomenon:  this entails that thoughts accompany but do not cause behavior.  Just as the behavior of scratching my head just occurs at 9:13 AM today, so too does the thought about Kathy just occurs.  Moreover, the scratching may occur without or without the silent whisper my scalp itches.  The scratching behavior is no more dependent upon the silent whispers than it is dependent upon me looking in the mirror, although statistically the scratching occurs at a greater frequency when looking in the mirror or silent whispering about my scalp.


Subconscious, the black box of behavior:  the brain selects behavior according to its structure which is in part shaped by the environment.  This selection process includes both crotch scratching and the verbal responses.    


Role of thoughts:  What is the role of thoughts?   And where do thoughts come from?  Do you decide to think about thinking about your cat?  Or do you like scratching the crotch, just do it and then possible have an epiphenomenona of silent whispers.  For those who wish to think deeply about the illusion of the ghost in the machine. 


Rational analysis is a skill:  a skill is an ability to do a certain type of complex behavior, such as to repair an automobile, so to do we learn how to apply logical and its complex brother scientific analysis to phenomena.  Each skill when perfected is more likely to be used in a given set of circumstances than—if all things being equal—the person was lacking in that perfection.  Thus if the thermostat seizes on a car, the individual with the tools and experience is more likely to undertake the task of removing the thermostat after the radiator cools than the one with less skill in automotive repair.  So too the person trained in logic and science is more likely to use critically those skills to evaluate a claims about spinal manipulation for the treatment of his migraine headache or that Jehovah is the first cause. 


Pleasure and pain centers in the brain are major forces in the production of behavior.  A positive reinforcer produces stimulation in the pleasure centers of the brain and reduced stimulation in the pain centers of the brain.  Most changes in these centers are slight as they produce a stream of activities.  There are over 30 such centers.


The parameters of reinforcers are connected to circumstances, past training, and genetics:  thus in two identical situation different people will often behave dramatically different.  Often the biological differences are minor.    


The science of analyzing reinforcers is in its infancy:  thus psychologists are forced to used operational definitions for positive and negative reinforcers, operant and respondent conditioning, satiation, punishment and such. 


Past experiences determine future behavior:  the brain projects future reinforcements and thus select behavior accordingly. 


Parallel process occur, thus one can drive a car, scratch the groin, and pray to the gods at the same time.


Propinquity: The closer in time a reinforcer is the greater is the probability that it will effect behavior.


Two useful simplifications:

Boredom is the mild discomfort that drives people for a variety in experiences.


Subconscious is a label for the selection process.  Thus subconscious projections of future reinforcements drives Alan to eat more calories than he burns.  This subconscious is the cause of his obesity.  Change significantly the reinforcers, and Alan will begin to lose weight. 



Enter supporting content here