Even though the two theories seem impolitely opposite of each other, there are some similarities between them pertaining to learning. Behaviorism is explained as behavior that can be observed. Behaviorist’s believe that we should not be concerned with mental processes, as they are not observable. Behaviorist’s believe that we learn things by behaving. In other words, we learn things by changing our behavior (Lieberman, 2012). Changing our environmental conditions will change our behavior which leads us to learn something new. Humanism is described as a personalized theory relating to the person as a whole.
According to the theory of humanism, our behavior stems from our self-concept and our inner feelings (McLeod, 2007). The way we feel and perceive ourselves says a lot about our behavior. This relates to how motivated we are to learn something. In humanism, learning behavior should be studied on a more personal level, focusing on each individual because we are all unique. Though each theory seems to be very different from one another, they are similar in some aspects. One thing that behaviorist’s and humanists agree on is that focusing on activities, like teaching, do not do much good.
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Instead, OTOH theories suggest that we should move our focus to learning activities. Activities involving learning will allow us to have a better understanding of things. These activities will also result in a change of behavior, which is presumed to be learning (Rostrum and Shadow, 2010). However, research findings suggest that students may learn more effectively if teacher’s implement both theories into their teachings. It seems that humanism and behaviorism theories compliment each other, in which they become more effective when used in conjunction with one another (Stall, Hunt, and Mattie, 980).
Another comparison of humanism and behaviorism is that they both utilize a set of procedures. With behaviorism, individuals will take certain steps in order to change their behavior into a new, learned behavior. With humanism, individuals will follow instructions in order to learn something new. Though the two theories compare to one another in following procedures, they differ in the way it is done. Humanist learning is self-directed, whereas behaviorism learning is influenced by our environmental conditions (Rostrum and Shadow, 2010).
Motivation also plays a key role in behaviorism and humanism, in my opinion. While, have not found any evidence for this assumption, it seems to be present in both theories. The reason for this assumption is that we need to be motivated to learn in some way, whether it is environmental factors or not. Following the comparisons of the two theories, is the differences found between them. One way that behaviorism differs from humanism is that behaviorism only looks at observing the physically visible behavior, rather than considering internal processes as well.
According to behaviorism, recesses of the mind should not be considered when studying behavior because that cannot be visibly observed. Which means that we cannot say that are related to our learning experiences. On the other hand, humanism believes that we should study internal processes and environmental factors in learning behavior. Humanists believe that we must consider all factors, internal and external, in order to fully understand learning behavior. Humanism and behaviorism also differ in how they study behavior and learning.
Behaviorist’s tend to perform their research studies on animals, whereas humanists prefer to perform their research studies on humans (McLeod, 2007). Behaviorist’s prefer to study animals because they feel they can be in a more controlled environment. Humanists disagree with this approach because humans and animals are not the same, and they react differently. Humanists believe that humans, not animals, are capable of thought, reason, and language; therefore animals should not be used in studying human behavior and thought (McLeod, 2007). Also, when performing studies, behaviorism uses a scientific approach, whereas animus does not.
The reason humanism uses a non-scientific approach is because it is very difficult to study emotions, feelings, and our consciousness scientifically. Therefore, interviews and other qualitative (individual) methods are used to study behavior (McLeod, 2007). In conclusion, you can see that both theories are important to our behavior and how it relates to learning. Though humanism ad behaviorism are quite different, they do have some similarities between them as well. Both theories suggest that we focus more on learning activities, rather than teaching activities in order to be a more effective learner.
More importantly, we should focus on learning activities that pertain to each learner involved. The two theories also compare, in that they each utilize a set of principles and procedures. Whether it’s external or internal, there are procedures that we follow in order to achieve the desired outcome. The two theories are different in many ways. Behaviorist’s focus solely on visible observable behavior, whereas humanists implement internal processes with the physical behavior. They also differ in the way they perform research studies. Behaviorism uses a scientific approach, and performs research on animals.