Behavioral and Cognitive Approach in Psychology

Behavioral Approach The behavioral approach is based on the psychological theory claiming that individual behaviour depends on the environment the person is in. In contrast, the cognitive approach focuses on the process of thinking as a determining factor that influences behavior.The Behavioral ApproachThe behavioral approach claims that people, as well as their actions and problems, can be understood observing their behaviour.The theory assumes that after birth all human beings are similar. Therefore, formation of personality is greatly related to the surrounding environment, which is to shape and bring up the future individual.The followers of the behavioral approach reject retrospective methods, and claim that behaviour is determined by purely external factors, such as stimuli of the outside world.Consciousness, according to the behavioral approach, is an artificial analogue of religious soul or spirit, and is absolutely rejected. This idea is based on the classic experiment of a Russian physician and psychologist, Ivan Pavlov. In the course of the experiment a dog was taught to associate a bells ring with food. Therefore, the scientists concluded that an individuals actions are based on external factors.The critics of the theory believe that it considers people to be too mechanical. They concluded that the approach treats symptoms instead of the causes of problems. This assumption is based on the fact that the behavioral approach is characterized by therapists focusing on the clients current problems and environment.The Cognitive Approach

In the end of the twentieth century the significance of behaviourism was somewhat diminished by the cognitive revolution.

The cognitive approach views the processes of thinking and cognition as a determinant of humans behavior. Cognition is the act or process of knowing. It refers to the mental processes of an individual and includes attention, perception, memory, reasoning, judgement, imaging, thinking, and speech.The given theory is the dominant one in modern psychology.The proponents of the cognitive approach point out that the behavioral theories are not adequate enough, because they say nothing about how people process information. Cognitive psychologists have proposed the models of human thinking and problem solving.The belief of cognitive psychologists is that humans are not merely passive renders to their environment.Cognitive psychology has helped to explain many aspects of everyday behavior and experience. It has answered the questions like why people forget things, why they experience visual illusions, and why eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate.

The practical applications of the cognitive approach are being combined with other approaches to develop and strengthen its usefulness. Cognitive psychology has integrated with and influenced many other approaches and areas of study to produce, for example, social learning theory, cognitive neuropsychology, and artificial intelligence.

SourcesMaultsby, Maxie and Mariusz Wirga. "Behavior Therapy". In Encyclopedia of Mental Health. Howard University, College of Medicine: Academic Press, 1998.Miller, George, Galanter, Eugene and Karl Pribram. Plans and the structure of behavior. NY: Holt, Rinehard and Winston, 1960.Newell, Allen and Herbert Simon. Human Problem Solving. NJ: Prentice Hall, 1972.