Research Paradigms: Behaviourism

soldier 15I introduced the series of articles on Research Paradigms by listing all the different paradigms, also called philosophical perspectives, philosophical epochs or, sometimes also called the “isms”. This articles deals with Behaviourism.


The foundation of behaviourism is that all human behaviour can be understood in terms of cause and effect. Both human and animal behaviour can be explained in terms of external stimuli, responses, learned histories and reinforcement.


Social researchers may conduct research on behavioural and social processes. In addition to this, and regardless of whether behaviour and social processes are studied, the researcher need to keep in mind that research as such can inherently pose psychological and social challenges to the target group for the research. The latter means that the researcher needs to understand behavioural and social risks and take specific steps to ensure that the research does not pose a threat to the physical or psychological health of the people or even animals included in the target group for the research.


A behavioural approach to research can lead to the reinforcement of ideas of philosophies. This would be positive reinforcement. The opposite is also true – behaviourism can actually also refute ideas, which would mean negative reinforcement. Researchers mostly express their ideas as a hypothesis that needs to be proven or refuted through research.

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