20 May 2022


Behaviorist versus Humanist Philosophical Orientation

Format: APA

Academic level: Master’s

Paper type: Critical Thinking

Words: 2558

Pages: 9

Downloads: 0

Purpose of the philosophical orientation

Psychologists and other researchers have for the longest time tried to unearth the behavioral orientations of individuals by integrating numerous approaches. One of the most common philosophical orientations is the behaviorist perspective. The purpose of this orientation is to offer an understanding regarding what provokes certain behaviors in individuals. This is a theory which proposes that people end up being controlled by the environment in different settings. Through classical conditioning one of the processes under this approach, individuals can learn based on association ( King, 2016 ). Alternatively, operant conditioning the other process asserts that people get to learn based on the consequences of their actions. Moreover, there is a greater purpose of promoting the scientific study based on behavior. It also seeks to endorse the study`s observable behavior through the initiation of control experiments. Besides, it serves as an experimental branch of natural science focusing on the observable behaviors in comparison to some internal measures such as emotion and comprehension. 

Key scholars

One of the key scholars who studied this theory is Ivan Pavlov a Russian psychologist. His discernment was established based on an experiment which he conducted. It involved a critical look into the reflexes along with neutral stimuli that made it possible for dogs to salivate by conditioning them using a bell. This was based on classical conditioning whereby he rang the bell whenever it was meal time, and provided the dogs with food. It was, nevertheless, noted that whenever he rang the bell even in the absence of food, the dogs still salivated owing to the fact that they had already been conditioned. His study has been resourceful having been applied in systematic desensitization of phobias. Another exceptional scholar who studied the perspective was B.F. Skinner who focused on operant conditioning. His study was based on the involuntary and voluntary behavior. His observation was that behavior was triggered for a specific reason and that positive and negative reinforcement in addition to punishment are the behavior shaping techniques. 

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An additional academic B.S. Bloom (1956) established the three domains pertaining to learning. The first one is cognitive which is related to mental skills, the second one involves affective which regards the growth in terms of feelings and also psychomotor which pertains to mental abilities ( Vibert, 2017 ). Edwin Ray Guthrie is also one of the behavioral psychologists whose foundation is based on the behaviorist perspective. He based most of his teachings on learning and the comprehension of daily behaviors and occurrences. Through his development of the contiguity theory regarding learning, his learners came to revere him owing to the ease of understandability of the concepts he developed. Moreover, E.L. Thorndike is another exceptional scholar who focused on the same perspective through his establishment of the law of effect, where he alleged that some conditions gain recognition among individuals while others are rejected. John Watson, on the other hand, focused on emotions as part of individuals` conditioned responses. 

Role of the learner related to the philosophical orientation

The perspective of behaviorism is based on the idea of stimulus-response. In this case, one can discern that every form of behavior is a result of some form of external stimuli. This is most based on the aspect of operant conditioning. It is not necessary to consider states based on learners` mental preparedness and consciousness. The learner, therefore, has a responsibility of becoming principally passive while responding to the external environmental stimuli ( Carter, 2017 ). In this case, this leaner is at first a clean slate before behavior modification is initiated via positive reinforcement, or a form of negative fortification. Owing to such adjustment, the chances are high that an antecedent behavior will occur again. In addition to this, it is important to note that by initiating the bit of punishment, it is highly likely that the idea of repeating the same behavior will be constrained. Thus making punishment a positive antecedent. Also, positive in this sense is an indicator of applying stimulus whereas negative involves withholding the same inducement. In order to increase the awareness of the learner, animals were mostly utilized in the behaviorist perspective. In addition to this behaviorism has no regard for structuralism in which case it ends up being a form of logical positivism. Moreover, through the structured centered form of learning it becomes possible to optimize how much learners can get to know. Most of the methods, nevertheless, are to be centered on constructivism. Besides, the incentive and motivation to learn is also fostered by the learners through behaviorism. 

Role of the adult education related to the philosophical orientation

Adult education is mostly driven by the increased necessity for people to resolve the problems around them. Such challenges end up becoming the form of stimuli which drives individuals. According to the theory, education holds a significant purpose of establishing behavioral change. In most cases, people`s actions contribute to most of the problems confronting them. Adult education further manages to establish changes in behavior with the propensity to intensify skills and attitudes meant to augment the performance of individuals in their respective duties ( Carter, 2017 ). Behaviorist perspective ought to be the optimal setting for people to establish a conducive and enabling environment for learning. The same type of education holds the view that learning pertains to that element which is capable of altering the behavior of individuals. Adult education, therefore, plays a critical role in modifying how certain things are done. Novel skills and abilities acquired by individuals through the learning process ought to initiative some form of change in the adult learner. Various learning theories tend to possess the specifics necessary to offer assistance to adults throughout the learning process. Additionally, adult education offers the relevant knowledge requires to clearly comprehend the assertions made on the behavioral standpoint. It is, therefore, very fundamental in all ways. 

Source of authority related to the philosophical orientation

John B. Watson is particularly regarded as the proprietor of the behaviorist perspective, and hence the source of authority. The initial perception held while formulating this theory was the idea that behaviors result from experience ( Carter, 2017 ). Through the right form of conditioning it is possible for any person to be conditioned to act or behave in a particular manner. Moreover, owing to the constant desire to advance psychology to become a form of measurable science the perspective of behaviorism emerged. It was a means capable of explaining what influences ordinary daily occurrences in the lives of individuals. Initially, the aspect of behaviorism had lost meaning before Watson came in and added a clear and definitive perspective leading it to maintain its authority. Moreover, real explanations could now be offered regarding the relationship existing between current and future environments and the related behaviors observed amongst individuals. With time, theorists came to the realization that through clear and analytical behavior analytic applications it is possible for certain elements to be explained critically. Habit can, for instance, be an important facet, nevertheless, it should be noted that it grows out of exercise ( Coady & Lehmann, 2016 ). In this case, everything that occurs in the present results from past experiences and happenings. Everything has to be established in its infancy before later on becoming fully embraced. 

Appropriate facilitation methods related to the philosophical orientation

One of the appropriate facilitation methods is emphasis on the production of measurable outcomes, for instance, in learners. It is important for this group of individuals to be notified regarding the various explicit outcomes likely to emanate from their learning experiences. This can enable them to judge for themselves how well they have managed to judge the outcome ( Carter, 2017 ). Secondly there is a method regarding testing of learners in a bid to determine whether they have been successful in achieving the set learning outcomes. The aspect of educating and assessing others is supposed to be integrated within the learning sequence in order to assess the outcome of the learner and also offer the required feedback on the same. Preassessment thus becomes a fundamental component. The other method pertains to proper sequencing of the learning materials in order to enhance learning ( Carter, 2017 ). It is fundamental for learning materials to be sequenced in the appropriate manner in which emphasis has to be placed on highly complex performance. Moreover, feedback also ought to be offered to learners in order for them to be in a position to monitor how well they have managed to perform. Besides, this kind of feedback makes it possible to monitor the progress and also learn on some of the elements of behavior that warrant change. Moreover, establishment of reinforcement is the other method which ends up having a positive impact on one`s performance. In this case, informative feedback and tangible rewards can be offered. 

Comparison between both Orientations

Based on the behaviorist perspective, when one observes changes in behavior, this means that learning has already occurred. This model is based on the aspect of conditioning. Also in the event that a reward is introduced as an incentive, it succeeds in evoking the most desirable response whereby the same behavior is repeated. Through continuously reinforcement it becomes essential for a behavior to be introduced. Comparatively, the humanist learning approach depicts learning as individual`s function in its entirety in addition to the assertion that it is impossible for learning to occur in the absence of affective and cognitive domains ( Coady & Lehmann, 2016 ). Also, just like the behaviorist approach this perspective is dependent on the idea that motivation manages to attain the desired response in individuals. As a result, self-determination ends up playing a significant role in the process. In this sense, the humanistic theory ends up becoming applicable in the attachment of myocardial infarction individuals in order to assist them to regain control of their health. This further alludes to its compatibility with the behavioral approach in the sense that in an instance where a patient is trying to control a blood pressure manometer, it may appear that they are struggling. It is, nevertheless, imperative to note that once they have learnt how to do it, everything turns out to be very easy for them. One can, therefore, observe that the two perspectives are capable of assisting individuals to adapt effectively towards specific health conditions by learning how to control them effectively. Both theories can, therefore, be used in a healthcare setting to initiating learning amongst individual patients. 

Concurrently, it is important to note that in both humanistic and behaviorist perspective, cognitive behaviorism is viewed as an inconsistently liberalized behaviorism ( Compton & Hoffman, 2019 ). As a result, both perspectives are viewed as complementary. Moreover, both contribute to the ideology of falsehood whereby it appears to require both perspectives to fuse with one another. In case a dialectical polarity of interpreting certain reference frames because fruitless this entirely becomes a great challenge to behold. It is also apparent that both may appear appropriate for various learning settings based on assessment undertaken. Moreover, the two perspectives can be applied in the development of competencies in addition to the advancement of psychomotor and technical abilities. This, notwithstanding, the behavioral approach appears more viable in the case a desired change in the behavior of an individual is anticipated ( Melé, 2016 ). Varied criticisms, nevertheless, exist indicating that behaviorism only bears a one dimensional approach. Besides, the idea that it can be impossible to reinforce this perspective in the absence of punishment further discounts its efficiency. Alternatively, behaviorism is capable of conditioning individuals to partake in activities in a specific manner compared to humanism which appears to be best suited for assisting people to overcome the challenges they are bound to be facing. Additionally, behaviorists have been observed to focus mostly on the external and also determinants of the environment as opposed to the humanists who have been revered for adopting a comprehensive approach. According to the humanistic approach, learning has to be based on other aspects other than just objective science. In this case the subjective also has to be taken into consideration in order to have a clear comprehension of human behavior. It might be deemed vague, however, every perspective of human existence appears fundamental in the course of evaluating behavior. 

There is no empirical evidence offered to offer support to humanistic claims due to the fact that this theory is mostly dependent on many of the observations made and also assumptions which relate to the behavior of humans. The behaviorists’ perspective on the other hand, bears substantial evidence to support it based on the idea that it does not focus on many aspects. Also, both perspectives are in agreement with the idea that individuals are capable of learning objectively and subjectively. Those individuals who bear extraordinary abilities, therefore, study those who are already self-actualized. Also, based on both ideologies, there is no single human who is born with a specific orientation or behavior. Instead, they manage to master such abilities and actions as they advance in their lives. Some individuals end up being successful in realizing their true selves and further develop an ability to utilize covert potential in a bid to attain successful endeavors. 

Personal Reflection 

As an adult educator in the future, it is fundamental to note that I will focus a lot of attention on the lessons acquired from both the behavioral and humanistic perspective. For instance, while focusing on the humanistic perspective, one of the key principles is based on the understanding that one can observe that humanistic predispositions are essential in guaranteeing individuals` future. Those people who have a high regard for humanism and professionalism are capable of enrichening themselves. Another element that can be focused on is based on the similarity between both components which alludes that teaching is capable of leading to blind alleys as opposed to learning which appears to nurture understanding. As a result, implementing both activities is capable of contributing towards a change of behavior amongst the participants. Further evidence points to the idea that formidable links were formulated for both self-directed forms of learning and adult related education after differentiation was initiated. 

To become a successful adult educator, it will be essential to gather potent knowledge that directly relates to both perspectives. One of the greatest achievements of humankind is to gather who they are and what their objective in life is. It will be essential to have the relevant answers to some of life`s questions in order to engender the kind of motivation required in the learners. The educator is solely responsible for impacting on the lives of adult learners by offering them the necessary guidance pertaining to their existence and means of managing to attain high levels of achievement in their lives. The only way that this can be attained is by conducting a thorough assessment of the behavioral and humanistic perspectives. It will also be fundamental to adopt an attitude that is capable of resulting in the likely and desired stimulus that will influence others to initiate certain aspects which are in most cases deemed impossible to attain. 

It is possible to influence the attitudes of individuals by invoking a sense of responsibility in them. For instance, through the behavioral perspective, I can manage to initiate change in behavior as an adult educator by introducing punishment. This is capable of acting as a deterrent towards an individual repeating a behavior or action. Moreover, by adopting a self-analyze approach it might be possible to persuade learners to create a connection between subsequent change and their learning experiences. In case that the learner gets to perceive the change created as positive and good it becomes possible for them to continue participating in the newly acquired behavior. Besides, the adult learner will be in a position to interact effectively with their environment on the basis of their own terms. The end result will, therefore, be a self-directed adult learner. 

Finally, as an adult educator, it is imperative that I understand that learners supposed to identify their personal knowledge gaps as the continuously appraise novel information. Moreover, further aspects of self-management should be treated with a great level of necessity. It will be my duty to organize teaching in a manner that is within the control of learners. Self-determination also ought to be established in a bid to persuade the learners to be perseverant by accepting responsibility for their own idea of learning. A good educator is also expected to comprehend that learning ends up being facilitated in the event that a learner adopts the correct level of responsibility in the course of the process. Other perspectives that will have to be adopted involve the idea of self-initiated learning which involves viewing various feelings such as intellect to be pervasive, and also self-evaluation which requires that one has a high regard for their own personal welfare as well as that of their students. 


Carter, I. (2017).  Human behavior in the social environment: A social systems approach . Routledge.

Coady, N., & Lehmann, P. (Eds.). (2016).  Theoretical perspectives for direct social work practice: A generalist-eclectic approach . Springer Publishing Company.

Compton, W. C., & Hoffman, E. (2019).  Positive psychology: The science of happiness and flourishing . SAGE Publications.

Cox, K. R., & Golledge, R. (2015).  Behavioral problems in geography revisited . Routledge.

King, L. A. (2016).  The science of psychology: An appreciative view . McGraw-Hill Education.

Melé, D. (2016). Understanding humanistic management.  Humanistic Management Journal 1 (1), 33-55.

Vibert, C. (2017).  Theories of Macro-Organizational Behavior: A Handbook of Ideas and Explanations: A Handbook of Ideas and Explanations . Routledge.

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