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Humanism, Behaviorism, and the Cognitive Theory

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Humanism, behaviorism, and the cognitive theory

Depending on how you look at it humanists, behaviorists, and cognitivists can be very different or very much alike. When looking at the three side by side humanists are the least structured, behaviorists are the most structured, and cognitivists fall somewhere in between.

Each theory has its own ideas and ways of learning. Humanism believes learning occurs primarily through reflection on personal experiences. Cognitivism thinks learning occurs primarily through exposure to logically presented information. Finally behaviorism believes learning occurs primarily through the reinforcement of desired responses (Kramlinger & Huberty, 2003).

Our society is very dependent on rewards such as the behaviorists believe. How can we ever think anything is ever better than behaviorism when we have grown up with it all of our lives. Most people are raised in families that reward children for housework, grades, or good behavior. This rewarding of good behavior has also been carried out in schools. Schools offer grades, stars, and attention based on the way we behave. Even as adults we see rewards in our jobs. Companies pay and provide bonuses to those who follow the rules. This type of behavior though may not be the best. It seems people only change their behavior, challenge what they know or think, or try something new because they know there is a reward in the end. Behavioral instruction offers little opportunity or context to develop independent thought (Learnativity, 2002).

Humanism on the other hand believes in doing everything you do for yourself not for a reward. According to humanists we have choices and responsibilities. Unlike the thinking of behaviorists who believe that we are not responsible for our actions. We are reacting to stimuli and operating on our environment to attain certain ends so anything we do is inevitable (DeMar, 2007). Humanists believe that the goal of life should always be to achieve personal growth and understanding. They say that a person can only be truly happy though self-improvement and self-knowledge (All Psych Online, 2004). Humanists believe that people are influenced by their self-perceptions and personal meanings attached to their experiences. The humanist theory helps to develop critical thinking, judgment, and creativity. They encourage to empower and take control over their learning processes not be just concentrating on the reward at the end They encourage people to look into themselves for the answers to their questions. Behaviorists believe the exact opposite. They believe we are solely the



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