What is behaviourism?

In the previous article, I talked about a learning theory developed by Lev Vygotsky called social constructivism. This week, I am talking about a theory called behaviourism.

In the behaviourism school of thought, it is believed that learning is the acquisition of new behaviours based on environmental conditions.

For example, if you wanted to learn a new skill, like hook shots in basketball, for instance, you would have to learn the proper technique, and then just keep practicing it until you can consistently make that shot with good form.

This also applies to when you are learning new, non-physical skills or concepts as well.

If you wanted to learn how to solve a certain type of math problem, for example, a behaviorist would say to keep copying that math problem and solution (writing it down) until you remember it, then try solving it (or questions similar to it) using your memory.

If this type of learning seems simple to you, it is and has been criticized for its simplicity.

People who oppose this learning style say that there is more to learning than just the external behaviour. They believe that learning is a process where the learner not only practices the behaviour, but also critically analyses and thinks about what he/she is doing. Behaviourism, to them, is just about the attainment of the behaviour.

However, behaviourist believes that free will does not exist and behaviour is determined by the environment in which the individual is a part of. Additionally, their main concern is with the observable stimulus-response behaviours.

How to apply this style to self-directed learning

In my opinion, this learning technique would be best used to create habits that will allow you to succeed in mastering the subject that you want to learn.

The reason being is that habits are created through repetition and consistency –the more you do it, the more likely it will stick to your everyday routine.

So, the first thing you need to do is think of activities that can help you be more productive. It can be reading for 20 minutes every morning or doing a yoga/stretching flow immediately after waking up.

Once you complete the activity, reward yourself. You can do this by appreciating how good you feel or how enjoyable it was, or you can give yourself a little treat, like a small candy. Just remember that the reward is to help motivate you to continue doing that activity every day.

Once you’ve done the activity on a consistent basis for a long period of time, instead of rewarding yourself with a treat, reward yourself with the acknowledgment that the activity has been beneficial to your work and life.

Once you realize this, you will continue to do it because it makes you feel good, and the activity will become a habit.

One thing I want to put emphasis on is that you have to do your desired activity consistently. So instead of picking a lot of productive tasks, just pick one or two that you know you can do every day and do it every day.

This is how it will become muscle memory and a habit.

For me, I started reading non-fiction books for 30 mins before I start my work every day. I decided to do this because I felt like I wasn’t reading enough and my brain wasn’t working at an optimal state. Additionally, I also started to exercise every morning as well. I found that I was sitting too much and my body was getting stiff; I needed to be more active and move my body more often.

So what activity are you going to start doing to improve your life and productivity? Share it below in the comments.

If you are looking for something new to learn…

Check out my resources page, where I share some books and items that have helped me learn about myself and the world.




1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to learn about behaviorism. When I was studying for school, I applied this technique. I do my studying in sprints and give myself a little reward at a time. This is great to not strain your brain!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me