Radical Behaviorist Critique

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Radical Behaviorist Critique

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Radical Behaviorist Critique


The central pillar of behaviorism is the idea that all behaviorists agree about and that defines behaviorism - is the idea that a science of behavior is possible (Baum, 2005). This concept was taken to a new level by asserting that there can be a scientific approach to behavior. The outcome-based approach was developed during the behavioral objectives movement during the 1970s in the United States. Robert Mager was the key pioneer of this learning, who proposed the concept of writing down statements about observable outcomes. He called those statements instructional objectives. At the end of the teaching exercise, he used the instructional objectives and performance to give what and how learning should be imparted. Later on, the instructional objectives developed to what is known as learning outcomes. Precisely, a learning outcome defines what a learner is expected to know, understand and/or be able to demonstrate after the completion of a process of teaching (Kennedy, 2005).

In the example of my son, the learning outcome was that he should be able to learn the spelling of his words and the method that best suited his needs were association. In laying the foundation of behaviorism, Skinner made several key advances that served as a foundation block for the future researchers. He also made not conceptual contributions to the field as well which include the concept of stimulus control.

Though, like any other science, the views of radical behaviorism are also skeptical to criticism. The aim of this paper is to criticize the weaknesses of this theory and offer a workable approach to achieve the desired results.


Following is a critique of the Radical Behaviorist approach from three different perspectives to offer a modified approach to achieve the desired outcomes.

Perspective of Information Processing Theory

The Cognitive Information Processing (CIP) Theory looks at how the mind works and how memory and other senses can be engaged in the learning process so that it has a lasting effect on the learner. Its primary focus is on the learner and how they acquire, store and retrieve information from memory like a computer (Bush, 2006). CIP has paved way for designing new learning programs that help learners gain knowledge at a phenomenal rate. In the behaviorist approach, mental processing is completed rejected, and it assumes that nothing happens between the stimulus and response. Though this is completely erroneous due to the advancement in clinical psychology, brain images clearly show that certain brain areas become active upon receiving a stimulus. Therefore, Radical Behaviorism makes the necessary adjustments to conform to the advancement in the field of technology.

Perspective of Meaningful Learning and Schema Theory

Schema theory attempts to explain what goes inside the brain, whereas behaviorism, without giving any information that might bog down the users like the chemicals being passed between the neurons and the electrical impulses generated due to the stimulus received by the senses. It gives a broader understanding of the brain science that even a layman can understand (Miller, ...