Also Known As ...

What are the common accepted names for this theory?

Radical Behaviorism | Applied Behavior Analysis | Operant Conditioning | Behavioral Psychology

Key Players

Who are the representative theorists?

Edward Thorndike | J. B. Watson | B. F. Skinner

Learning Influences

Key factors that influence Learning.

Positive reinforcement and repetition are the keys in behavioral learning. Positive reinforcement provides motivation for learners and is directly connected to continued excellence.

Instructor Role

What is the role of the instructor?

Breaks Down Tasks | Provides Immediate Feedback | Provides Positive Reinforcement | Establishes Rules | Provides Repetition

Learner Role

What is the role of the learner?

The learner needs only to respond and demonstrate a level of performance with regard to specific goals and objectives.

Learning Types

What types of learning best explained by this theory?

Task-Based learning | Drills | Mastery Learning | Generalizations, | Associations | Chaining Skills | Question and Answer | Guided Practice | Regular Reviews

Basic Strategies

What are some basic strategies used to exemplify this theory?

Behavior is determined by the environment, and is the result of stimulus-response therefore all behavior can be reduced to stimulus-response features. The behavior itself is the primary concern as opposed to the cognitive process.


What are this theory's major strengths?

Behaviorism provides clear predictions. Explanations can be tested and therefore supported with evidence. Applications for real life therapy.


What are this theory's major weaknesses?

Behaviorism leaves out the cognitive and emotional processes involved in learning. Some say you cannot compare animals to humans. Reductionist.

Key Features

Key features that characterize behaviorism.

Principles for Strengthening Behavior

Positive & Negative Reinforcement

Principles for Weakening Behavior

Reinforcement Removal & Punishment

Principles for Teaching New Behavior

Shaping, Chaining, Fading

Principles for Maintaining Behavior

Continuous vs. Intermittent Reinforcement


What are some areas of application for behaviorism?

Behavioral Therapy | Phobias | Education | Behavior-Modification | Depression | Relationships | Moral Development | Aggression | Addiction

Driscoll, M. P. (2005). Part II: Learning and Behavior- Radical Behaviorism. In Psychology of Learning for Instruction (3rd ed., pp. 49-52). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Images of Thorndike, Skinner and Watson provided by creative commons:,,

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