Think of an example in which B.F. Skinner's behavioral theory would most likely not impact or change a particular behavior? If you can cite an instance, explain why and then state which behaviorist theory would best address this situation?© BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com July 22, 2018, 4:24 pm ad1c9bdddf
Think of an example in which B.F. Skinner's behavioral theory would most likely not impact or change a particular behavior? If you can cite an instance, explain why and then state which behaviorist theory would best address this situation?
In Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, the main protagonist, the Underground Man, rebels against the very mechanism and causality of the natural world that Behaviorism takes as its foundation. He states, in a rage against the allegedly universal cause and effect:
If there really is some day discovered a formula for all our desires and caprices - that is, an explanation of what they depend upon, by what laws they arise, how they develop, what they are aiming at in one case and in another and so on, that is a real mathematical formula - then, most likely, man will at once cease to feel desire, indeed, he will be certain to. For who would want to choose by rule? Besides, he will at once be transformed from a human being into an organ-stop or something of that sort; for what is a man without desires, without freewill and without choice, if not a stop in an organ?
Dostoevsky is speaking about positivism, nominalism and the naive conception of cause and effect so typical of 19th century materialism and Behaviorism. In it, the falsity of this approach can be seen, and any number of examples of its failure can be understood. It's failure is that it explains too much. Like utilitarianism, to hold that people are conditioned by pleasure and pain, relative to a specific stimulus and association, says little else but that man is a consciousness, will-less machine, just another hunk of matter for the scientific establishment to manipulate.
What does Behaviorism seek to do, what is its end point? Dostoevsky has already stated it: to derive a mathematical formula that predicts and fully explains all our actions. By using the concept of stimulus, response and association, they argue, all human desires, acts and thoughts are predictable in that they are inevitable relative to the state of the environment. The sole goal, therefore, is to render a map of the human person with such exactitude that all action is predicted as the seasons are. Watson and Skinner are not shy about admitting this (cf Skinner, 1969).
So what is the answer? It is a type of person (rather than any specific situation) who will remain unaffected by behaviorism of any kind. Since there is no aspect of life that behaviorism cannot affect, there is no reason for science to be used anywhere and everywhere behavioral modification is needed. Certainly, there is no grounds to argue against it, since the behaviorist rejects all such universal grounds as "metaphysical."
The Underground Man above, or some other similar type, will choose freedom even if it means being irrational by Watson's standards. Eventually, such a person will realize that things like logic, universal truths and even "causes" do not exist according to the behaviorist, and hence, there is no such thing as "irrationality." No one has seen any of these things. We might have seen manifestations of them, but we've never seen universal truth as such. It is difficult to see how a behaviorist, positivist or nominalist ...
The behavioral theories and their impact on behavior is provided.