What Is Behaviorism?

Behaviorism seeks to identify observable, measurable laws that could explain all of human behavior. Although psychology now pays more attention to the inner landscape of emotions and thought, behaviorism has had a durable influence on everything from animal training to parenting techniques to the bonuses financial managers receive.

Recent Posts on Behaviorism

Simple Life Hacks to Lose Weight and Improve Your Health

By David DiSalvo on February 24, 2015 in Neuronarrative
Much of the self-improvement industry is focused on ways to cattle prod our willpower into healthier habits. Behavioral psychologists, on the other hand, have conducted a wealth of research showing that skillful hacks to our homes and offices can produce results that tweaks to willpower, however forceful, rarely make stick.

Learning to Enjoy Life by Watching Dogs

Research shows us that owning a dog can lead to a healthier lifestyle. Dog lovers know that dogs teach ways of living that we might want to emulate. Watching your canine friend—or someone else’s—and imitate some of their behaviors. This can be your guide to improving moods and learning to enjoy life more.

Make Time for the Pain

By Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. on February 06, 2015 in Evolution of the Self
When someone comes into therapy essentially requesting a major mental and emotional overhaul, I typically warn them that we’ll be doing a lot of grief work. That is, if we’re to accomplish a major transformation of their self-image, they’ll need to revisit many of the times and places where their painfully felt insecurities and self-doubts originated.

The Psychology of Torture

By Jay Richards Ph.D. on February 04, 2015 in The Violent Mind
Cognitive behavioral theory got it wrong, but how?

Is the Super Bowl Taking a Toll on You?

By Matt Beardmore on January 31, 2015 in Time Out!
Even though the end of the NFL season will result in some people dreading the return to “real-life” responsibilities, others will celebrate the connections they’ve built this season and fully enjoy the Super Bowl experience, no matter who wins or loses.

Applied Behavior Analysis Embraces Genetics

Genetics is now taking its proper place in applied behavioral therapy, but only the imprinted brain theory can provide a paradigm that goes beyond behaviorism to fully integrate genetics, psychology, and psychiatry.

What Alan Turing Gave Psychology

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on December 24, 2013 in Good Thinking
There are many lessons to be learned from Turing’s extraordinary life and accomplishments, not the least of which is that benevolence and genius are too often misunderstood when they occur in those who are different from the majority.

Value Science in a Nutshell Continued

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on December 17, 2013 in Beyond Good and Evil
Discovering moral science beyond good and evil

Value Science in a Nutshell

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on November 29, 2013 in Beyond Good and Evil
Truth is Beauty, if Poet Keats is Right. But, is Truth Goodness?

Responding to “Borderline” Provocations—Part I

By David M. Allen M.D. on November 04, 2013 in A Matter of Personality
Being in a relationship, by blood or romantically, with someone with traits of borderline personality disorder is incredibly challenging. While they may seem irrational, there is in fact a method to their madness. In Part I of this series, I introduce some important considerations before going on to describe in future posts specific countermeasures to their provocations.

Values: Humble Origin and Great Consequences

By Leon Pomeroy Ph.D. on September 28, 2013 in Beyond Good and Evil
Are You a Feeler, Doer or Thinker?

Maslow on Creativity

By Joachim I Krueger Ph.D. on September 07, 2013 in One Among Many
Maslow’s theory of creativity is interesting, non-mainstream, and incoherent. Why bother to take a second look?

Gamble Much? How to Figure out if You've Got a Problem

Compulsive gamblers, understood now by psychiatry's DSM-5 as having “gambling disorder,” have an addiction as strong as any involving drugs or alcohol. Knowing the thought patterns that accompany this disorder might save you, or those close to you, from suffering the consequences of this threat to your mental health.

Dog Whisperer Receives Honorary Degree from Bergin

By Mark Derr on April 03, 2013 in Dog's Best Friend
Cesar Millan's honorary degree from Bergin University of Canine Studies has left many in the dog world wondering about the school's values and raised questions about the proper use of honorary degrees.

Are Two Kids Better Than One?

By Jessica Grogan Ph.D. on January 16, 2013 in Encountering America
It might be easy to take credit (and blame) for your child's awesomeness (or lack thereof) when you only have one child. With more than one, though, causality gets muddier and strict behavioral explanations lose explanatory power.

The "Puzzle of Motivation"... and Behaviorism

By Eric Charles Ph.D on January 05, 2013 in Fixing Psychology
Dan Pink's TED talk on motivation is great! ... and misleading... Learn more about the importance of autonomy, mastery, and purpose... and contingencies

Neuroaesthetics: Responding to the Critics

By William Hirstein Ph.D. on December 18, 2012 in Mindmelding
A new field of inquiry into art, called neuroaesthetics, has produced some strong responses from the art establishment. In this post, William Hirstein responds to seven of the most frequently made criticisms. These include the claims that neuroaesthetics is reductionist, that it cannot capture artistic creativity, and that it cannot explain the diversity of artworks.

Lincoln: A History Lesson in Healthy Goals

By Jeremy Clyman Psy.D on November 12, 2012 in Reel Therapy
What this recently released film tells us about how the 16th president achieved the abolition of slavery, and why he embodied the kind of effective, healthy behavior that clinicians teach their clients.

Psychotherapy’s Fifth Wave

By Gregg Henriques on May 11, 2012 in Theory of Knowledge
Psychotherapy is on the cusp of a new revolution, one that will result in the effective combination of the major perspectives into a coherent whole, anchored to the science of psychology.

Behavioral Health Reports Are Depressing Me

By Lawrence D. Blum M.D. on March 12, 2012 in Beyond Freud
Behavioral health reports are depressing me. This feeling exists only in my mind and doesn't alter my behavior.

An Amazing Summer With B. F. "Fred" Skinner

By Robert Lanza M.D. on February 27, 2012 in Biocentrism
While driving past Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, the great psychologist turned to me and said “You know, Rob, one day I’m going to be over there.” Now, thirty years later, it’s hard for me to drive by in the spring when the majestic trees are all in bloom.

Eye Contact in Therapy Part II

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on February 22, 2012 in In Therapy
Maybe therapy is the first place where care, understanding, non-judgmental acceptance and even a desire to fight for you is reflected in the eyes of the other.

Psychology Must Catch Up on Synesthesia Research

By Maureen Seaberg on January 20, 2012 in Sensorium
Though the now-sexy trait of blended senses is enjoying a renaissance in research, popular interest and arts expression, it has not been so for nearly a century. Blame the Behaviorists.

Dangers of “Crying It Out”

By Darcia Narvaez Ph.D. on December 11, 2011 in Moral Landscapes
Letting babies “cry it out” is an idea that has been around at least since the behaviorist John Watson applied the mechanistic paradigm of behaviorism to child rearing in 1928, the decade when parents began trusting "science" more than their instincts.

Moneyball: The Behaviorist Movie

You think it's about two different ways of hiring baseball players. But Moneyball points up the usefulness of behaviorist thinking and a fundamental issue in psychology.

Mindfulness for Those Who Don’t Meditate

By Shawn T. Smith Psy.D. on October 06, 2011 in Ironshrink
For some of us, the traditional path to mindfulness simply isn’t attractive or effective. Yet mindfulness is a vital skill in overcoming problems like anxiety or depression. Luckily, there are other ways to prevent our minds from taking over our lives.

How To Give Your Date A Cookie

Have you ever had a date go wrong or a partner behave badly for some unknown reason? Follow this advice to keep them happy and acting positively towards you.

Should You Forgive Your Romantic Partner?

When a partner hurts you, will your forgiveness persuade them to change? Or, would providing consequence for their actions motivate their behavior more effectively? Find out which approach works better to encourage them to treat you right.

The Silly Storm over Storm

A Toronto couple's efforts to protect their kids from gender stereotypes, makes news, and teaches lessons. It's Nurture AND Nature, not one or other other.

Don't Kick That Pigeon! What Psychology Owes the Dove

How the lowly pigeon taught us to work effectively with autistic children and understand the development of delinquency.