Harvard referencing task

Since most of the resouces I produce are of a quite instrumental nature, the theoretical perspective which has the most affinity for this approach is Behaviorism. Behaviorism is notable because its practitioners were the first to attempt to examine behaviour in a rigorous and systematic manner:

“Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist’s total scheme of investigation.” (Watson 1913, p. 158 in Wozniak 1997)

The tenets of behaviorism are as follows:

  • that mind is unobservable and therefore incompatible with the scientific study of behavior;
  • a theory of mind is unnecessary for any theory of behaviour, since behaviour is physical, observeable and testable.
  • behaviour is shaped by enrvironment
  • behaviour which elicits a positive outcome is more likely to be repeated (re-inforcement);
  • behaviour which elicits an unpleasant outcome is less likely to be repeated (punishment);
  • complex behaviour can be built from aggregations of simple behaviours (operand conditioning);
  • behaviour can be generalised to other stimuli.

(Mcleod 2007).
This perspective explains how the complex behaviour of using a particular tool or can be built from reducing the operation of the application into its component parts which the individual practices with the appropriate feedback. This also helps us to understand individuals who have a negative view of their abilities with technology, typically due to a specific, unpleasant experience with technology in the past which has become generalised to other interactions with technology.


Mcleod, S. A. (2007). Simply Psychology; Skinner | Operant Conditioning. [online] Available from: http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html [accessed: 25 November 2011].
Watson, J.B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviorist views it. Psychological Review, 20, pp. 158-177. in
Wozniak, R.H. (1997) Behaviourism: The Early Years. [online] Available from: http://www.brynmawr.edu/psychology/rwozniak/behaviorism.html [accessed: 25 November 2011].


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