Deutsch: Verhaltenspsychologie / Español: Psicología Conductual / Português: Psicologia Comportamental / Français: Psychologie Comportementale / Italiano: Psicologia Comportamentale

Behavioral Psychology, also known as behaviorism, is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of observable behaviors, emphasizing the role of environmental factors in shaping behavior. It operates under the principle that all behaviors are learned through interaction with the environment and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behavior patterns.


Behavioral psychology posits that behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner regardless of internal mental states. It suggests that behaviors are the result of stimulus-response associations and that learning occurs through classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning involves learning through association, as demonstrated in Ivan Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, while operant conditioning involves learning through consequences, including reinforcement and punishment, as elaborated by B.F. Skinner.

This field of psychology emphasizes the importance of the external environment and the effects of reinforcement and punishment on behavior. It has contributed significantly to the development of therapeutic techniques, such as behavior modification and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which are used to change maladaptive behaviors and treat various psychological conditions.

Application Areas

Behavioral Psychology has wide-ranging applications, including:

  • Clinical Psychology: Using behavior modification techniques to treat psychological disorders such as anxiety, phobias, and substance abuse.
  • Educational Psychology: Applying principles of reinforcement and punishment to enhance learning and classroom management.
  • Organizational Psychology: Implementing behavior-based strategies to improve job performance and organizational efficiency.

Well-Known Examples

A well-known application of behavioral psychology is the token economy system, used in settings such as schools, psychiatric hospitals, and rehabilitation centers, where individuals receive tokens for desired behaviors that can be exchanged for privileges or rewards. Another example is the use of exposure therapy for treating phobias, where patients are gradually exposed to the feared object or situation in a controlled manner to decrease their anxiety.

Treatment and Risks

Behavioral psychology has been instrumental in developing effective treatments for a variety of psychological disorders. However, critics argue that it may oversimplify human behavior by focusing solely on observable actions and neglecting the internal mental processes that contribute to behavior. Additionally, ethical concerns arise regarding the use of punishment as a behavior modification technique.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Behaviorism
  • Behavior Analysis
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)


Behavioral Psychology is a foundational perspective within psychology that emphasizes the study of observable behaviors and the influence of the environment on behavior. Through its focus on learning and behavior modification, it has contributed valuable insights and techniques for understanding and treating psychological disorders, despite debates over its emphasis on external behaviors over internal mental processes.


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