Cognitivism Vs. Behaviourism

From: Young, Holly (
Date: Fri May 24 1996 - 11:59:42 BST

Q77. What is the difference between Cognitivism and Behaviourism?

Behaviorists study individual's behaviour rather than looking at their
brain and nervous system. Behaviour has been defined as the activities
of an organism which can be observed.
Cognitivists, however study the mental processes underlying behaviours.
Modern cognitive psychology is based on these assumptions :
a) only by studying mental processes can we fully understand what
organisms do.
b) studying mental processes in an objective fashion by focusing on
specific behaviours and interpreting them in terms of underlying mental
processes which may be responsible for eliciting that behaviour.
On the other hand behaviourism does not take into consideration the
mental processes which may be the result of the behaviour which is
being observed.
Behaviourists tend to study the relationship between the relevent
stimuli and the response that it elicits and the rewards and
piunishments that follow these reponses i.e. conditioning.
Cognitivism relies on an analogy between the mind and a computer.
Cognitivism was developed in reaction to the behaviourist theory as the
behaviourist theory was too simplistic, as the stimulus-response view
was too simple to explain such behaviours as communication and
There are obviously many differences between cognitivism and
behaviorism as has been outlined above.

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