Behaviorism is a school of thoughts which thinks that in order for psychology to be scientifically studied it should be objectively studied through observable behavior. This approach concentrates only on observable stimulus and its observable response and discounts any independent activities of the mind. Behaviorist did not study cognitive processes however they did not omit it they just called it the black box and stayed away from it. 

Actually we cannot blame behaviorists for not studying cognitive process and its impact on behavior. They just wanted their studies to be scientific and objective and of course they could not study cognitive process objectively back then, because they didn’t have the techniques we have now.

   To study behavior behaviorists used the experimental method, and the majority of the experiments were done on animals. For example the study Pavlov made on dogs “classical conditioning”, the study of Thorndike on cats “Trial and error” and the study of skinner on pigeons “operant conditioning”.

     However the real birth of behaviorism was in 1913 in conference entitled Psychology as the behaviorist views it, J.B Watson exposes a radical conception of psychology as a science of behavior rather than the science of consciousness. 

In 1977 a new study “social learning” made by Albert Bandura changed everything. He agreed with classical and operant conditioning. However he added two major ideas that marked the start of the end of behaviorism. The first was the incorporation of the social impact on behavior. The second and the most important one is mentioning a mediating process that happens between the stimuli and the response. Hence the old idea that used to say that our response is the result of a certain stimuli and that whatever happens between the stimuli and the response is just a black box was finished, because Bandura took that black box away and put instead of it a mental process which can be thought of as the beginning of start of the cognitive revolution.


  • Thorndike, E. L. (1898). Animal intelligence: An experimental study of the associative processes in animals.

  • Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as the Behaviorists views it.

  • Skinner, B. F. (1938). The Behavior of organisms: An experimental analysis.

See Also:

Structuralism and functionalism

Psychoanalytic Approach

Cognitive Revolution