PSYC 6717 Discussion: Behaviorism

Radical Behaviorism 

According to Moore (2011), Skinner defined radical behaviorism as “the philosophy of a science of behavior treated as a subject matter in its own right apart from internal explanations, mental or physiological” (Pg.456).  

Skinner’s behaviorism rejected the mentalism idea that behavior is caused by the internal, psychic, neural, mind, mental cognitive processes, etc. (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2020). Skinner did not deny the presents of internal factors (private events) but did not think they needed to be considered when analyzing behavior. He believed this because mental processes cannot be objectively observed.  

My Thoughts 


“Skinner’s “radical behaviorism” proposes that behavior, rather than cognitive processes, should be the primary topic of study”. 

Honestly, I was having a hard time breaking down radical behaviorism. In my undergraduate class, we talked about B.F. Skinner but did not go into detail about radical behaviorism. After reading over the required readings and watching Dr. Little presentation, I think I have a better understanding of things. Radical behaviorism states that behaviorism is a natural science like all other sciences, behavior is best explained by observable objective behaviors, and the environment is the primary cause of behaviors.  

I agree with Skinner’s statement above because it is hard to study something that you cannot see or measure, such as mental processes. This reminds me of the saying “action speaks louder than words”. Though I do believe that mental processes influence behaviors, they are just not measurable which makes it hard to draw a correlation for behavioral causes.  


Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2020). Applied behavior analysis (3rd ed.). Pearson. 

Moore, J. (2011). Behaviorism. The psychological record, 61(3), 449-463.  

Discussion: Behaviorism

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One skill of an applied behavior analyst is collaborating to identify negative behaviors an individual is exhibiting and then developing treatments for those behaviors (e.g., strategies, interventions, etc.) to help them change the behaviors and derive improved outcomes for themselves. Radical behaviorism posits there is a science of behavior that has shown the environment as a significant cause of behavior and that experiential factors play a primary role in determining behavior (Cooper et al., 2020). The strategies and interventions of the applied behavior analyst represent efforts to change maladaptive behavior by systematically employing techniques that control circumstances in which negative behaviors arise and helping individuals learn and apply new skills.

For example, if a child in a classroom is repeatedly leaving their seat during instruction (i.e., maladaptive behavior), an applied behavior analyst would work with the child to identify the factors contributing to the maladaptive behavior and then develop strategies or interventions to generate more appropriate behavior by the child.

For this week’s Discussion, you will consider your perspectives on radical behaviorism and its learning principles.

Cooper, J. O., Heron, T. E., & Heward, W. L. (2020). Applied behavior analysis (3rd ed.). Pearson. 

To Prepare

  • Review the Learning Resources for this week as well as the required weekly media program to gain an understanding of radical behaviorism.
  • Think about whether you concur with the learning principles of radical behaviorism.

By Day 4 of Week 3

Post an explanation of whether you agree or disagree with the following statement, and why or why not:

  • Skinner’s “radical behaviorism” proposes that behavior, rather than cognitive processes, should be the primary topic of study.

Read your colleagues’ postings.

Note: For this discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the To Participate in this Discussion link, then select Create Thread to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on Submit!

By Day 6 of Week 3

Respond to at least two colleagues’ posts by expanding on each colleague’s rationale for why they agree or disagree with Skinner’s proposal. Justify your response.

Be sure to support your posts and responses with specific references to behavior-analytic theory and research. In addition to the Learning Resources, search the Walden Library and/or internet for peer-reviewed articles to support your posts and responses. Use proper APA format and citations, including those in the Learning Resources.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights that you have gained because of your colleagues’ comments.

I disagree with Skinner’s radical behaviorism philosophy due to the multiple internal and external factors that can influence behavior. Although behavior should be the primary area of focus, cognitive processes can occasionally influence behavior. Research shows that there is a link between cognition processes, behavior, and one’s mental state. “The level of Autism traits could be associated with important capabilities that may impact the ability to cope with a cognition/adaptive behavior discrepancy and its effects on one’s mental state and functioning” (Zukerman, Yahav, & Ben-Itzchak, 2021). While it is crucial within applied behavior analysis to analyze the environment, it is also important for a psychiatrist to rule out any medical issues regarding behavior. 



Zukerman, G., Yahav, G., & Ben-Itzchak, E. (2020). The gap between cognition and adaptive behavior in students with autism spectrum disorder: Implications for social anxiety and the moderating effect of autism traits. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(5), 1466–1478. 

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