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Problems with Strict Behavioral Theory

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One of the problems with strict behavioral theory is that it very much ignores the ‘human variable’. When we reduce things strictly to stimulus and response, we can easily forget that there are human feelings, thoughts, and cognitions that are involved in the expression of a behavior as well. In the case of Roger a behaviorist will take everything at face value. If Roger comes in and says he is having trouble studying, it is very likely that the behaviorist will agree with him based on the observable evidence and come up with a reinforcement contingency of some sort to correct his ‘problem’.

However, the behaviorist is not likely to explore Roger’s motivations, interests, or his desires in life. The true cause of the behavioral problem may have to do with thoughts, feelings, or a person’s concept of themselves. Behaviorism is ill suited to dealing with these highly abstract concepts.

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This means that while the behaviorist may address the problem and possibly even find a way to get Roger studying and into business school, he most likely will not be able to address the issue of whether or not Roger should be in business at all; or if indeed he should pursue his music interests.

Likewise, behaviorism will be of little help in assisting Roger in his problems with his family, which a psychoanalytically oriented or cognitive therapist would most likely feel are very relevant in his situation. For example, there is a possibility that Roger could be much happier as a musician than as a business professional, and that deep down Roger knows this and that is why he is having difficulty studying.

The conflict he is experiencing could be coming from the pressure of his parents who tell him (directly or indirectly) that he should be in the business field, that music is not valued by his father, and that his brother is a failure so Roger must make up for him and make his parents proud. Things Roger says, such as “now the burden to follow in my father’s footsteps is on my shoulders” evidence these issues. This quote implies that Roger does not consider working in business pleasurable and that he does not want to feel looked down upon for doing something other than what his parents want, as his brother did. Roger also states that his younger sister “has it real easy…there is no pressure on her”. Which seems to imply that studying for business involves pressure and that it is not easy. Because Roger has such natural talent in music and does find it easy to write songs as well as enjoyable to play guitar, a therapist might want to consider addressing that possibility in therapy. A strict behaviorist is limited to what he can see, and poor Roger would never get that chance.

While behaviorism is certainly an effective method of understanding and changing behavior, it simply does not take into account causes that may continue to affect an organism even after successful therapy has taken place.

Often times it is issues that are not observable which cause someone to have problems. A behaviorist might be able to change, add or subtract a stimulus to alter a behavior, but only a cognitive therapist or other type of therapist would be capable of giving a client his own tools to deal with stimuli which are out of his or her control. Behaviorism is a theory, which I feel, requires excessive outside maintenance, and teaches little to a client that they can use to help themselves.

Cite this Problems with Strict Behavioral Theory

Problems with Strict Behavioral Theory. (2018, Jul 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/problems-with-strict-behavioral-theory/

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