Pavlov’s key difference between cognitive psychology and behavioral

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Last updated: April 25, 2019

Pavlov’s study is regarded as a foundation for Behaviorist school of Psychology. Behaviorism is the paradigm of Psychology that Pavlov’s experiment would be studied under because behaviorists believe that all responses or behaviors are either a direct result of a stimuli in the environment or due to the particular individual’s psychological history. We could say that in Pavlov’s experiment, the dog’s salivation response to food is due to the direct stimuli (food) and the same response due to a tuning fork is a result of his history with the tuning fork (as he associates the sound of the fork to food).

Behaviorism is also stands for reinforcement and punishment, and in Pavlov’s experiment we see reinforcement being used when the dog is subjected to the same two stimuli again and again for it to associate the two with the same response.The key difference between cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology lies in the approach towards learning and behavior. Where cognitivists believe that learning basically alters your existing knowledge framework, and is an internal process of the brain and so can’t be measured easily, behaviorists believe it to be an external process which happens as a result of external stimuli, and so can be easily measured. Behaviorists believe that behavior shaped largely by reinforcement whereas cognitivists believe that behavior to be abstract and try to understand the mental processes that make this behavior.

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Therefore in a classroom environment, behaviorists would suggest that best strategy is ‘practice makes perfect’, and so the students should do the same exercise again and again till the students master it, cognitivists believe that learning should be a two-way street and that teachers should guide their students through concepts and difficulties till they have a good understanding of the concept. Cognitivism tries to go beyond explaining behavior and tries to explain higher processes of the mind like reasoning, decision making, error making, etc.One of the key similarities in behaviorism and cognitivism is that both schools take into account the individual’s history.

Another could be that both Sciences are based upon subjective metaphors. Behaviorism is based on the metaphor of response and stimuli whereas Cognitivism is based on the metaphor of information processing theory. Both of these are subjective metaphors that are used to explain objective science.

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