An Introduction to the Psychology of Human Behaviour

Updated on March 25, 2022

Behavioural psychology (behaviourism) is an area of psychology that studies the way humans behave and how various factors influence these behaviours.

This area of psychology infiltrates every other area of the field. The way humans behave affects their social interactions, physical health, and mental health.

You can study human behaviour in psychology courses of any kind. However, if you have a keen interest in this area of psychology, you might want to specialise even further in behavioural psychology.

Where Did Behavioural Psychology Begin?

This type of psychology has been around for centuries and it is still commonly used in the modern-day. It began with a psychologist named John B. Watson who used the work of another psychologist called Ivan Pavlov, who is famous for the classical conditioning experiments he performed with his dogs.

Pavlov was able to condition his dogs to begin salivating at the sound of a bell and Watson thought that the same could apply to humans. Conditioning may influence the way humans think, behave, and learn.

Alongside Watson, a range of psychologists began to delve into the intricacies of human behaviour to learn more about what drives humans to behave a certain way.

What Techniques Are Used in Behavioural Psychology?

Behavioural psychologists will use several different techniques to help patients adapt and change their behaviours:

  • Systematic desensitisation – this technique is used to help patients overcome phobias. It works by slowly exposing patients to their phobias over time alongside relaxation techniques to reduce the associated fear and anxiety.
  • Exposure therapy – this works by exposing patients to their fears and breaking the negative thought and behaviour patterns that come along with these fears. This is commonly used in people with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

What Are the Impacts of Behavioural Psychology?

Behaviourism impacts multiple aspects of psychology. Human behaviour is affected by other areas of health and it directly influences the way humans interact with one another and integrate into society.

Discovering more about the way humans behave can enhance our understanding of how thoughts and emotions affect our behaviours, and how humans learn and develop over time.

Although many changes have been made to the behavioural psychology approach, the main principles still stand today. Therapies and treatments that are used by behavioural psychologists are based on the workings of Pavlov, Watson, and their colleagues.

Learning more about human behaviour can help healthcare professions to provide optimal treatment to children and adults with developmental, behaviour, or social conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Using the common behavioural psychology strategies, such as systematic desensitisation and exposure therapy, professionals can help a wide range of patients to overcome their phobias, fears, and anxieties. Patients can then experience fewer negative thoughts and improved quality of life.

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