Behavior Essay, Research Paper

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. 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.


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