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Humanism and Behaviorism as Psychological Learning Theories/Principles

Updated on July 4, 2017

Humanism and Behaviorism

Humanism vs. Behaviorism
Humanism vs. Behaviorism | Source

Psychological Learning Theories/Principles

Humanism and Behaviorism as Psychological Learning Theories/Principles
Near the 1950s and ‘60s, Maslow and other researchers became interested in developing humanistic psychology. This desire was mostly in reaction to the behavioral movement that was taking place. Maslow and the others who were interested in developing the humanistic approach to education considered behaviorism to be much too narrow in focus to be dealing with significant issues, such as love, values, self-actualization, choice, spirituality, awe, purpose, and meaning. (Elkins, 2012)

Early research studies on behavior have been conducted by prominent theorists, such as Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner. A lot of information has been learned from the experiments that these men carried out on humans and animals. These men have taught us how behavior can be affected by stimuli and how positive and negative reinforcements affect behavior.

Humanism and Behaviorism are two camps interested in teaching adult learners. Which camp does the best job of educating adult students? This research paper informs readers about the benefits and possible drawbacks of both the humanistic and behavioristic theories/principles in education, and also, it takes a look at what the benefits or drawbacks may be if both camps were utilized together under one roof in adult education.

Two Similarities in Behaviorism and Humanism as Psychological Learning Theories/Principles:
Behaviorism and humanism as psychological learning theories/principles are interested in providing learners with an engaging and fruitful learning experience geared toward success in student learning.
Both the behavioristic and the humanistic method of teaching have their focal point set on activities of learning which has shown results that lead to behavioral changes (learning). (Rostami & Khadjooi, 2010)

Two or More Differences in Behaviorism and Humanism as Psychological Learning Theories/Principles
With the behaviorist theory, the educator uses reinforcement to strengthen the desired actions. These reinforcements are thought of as rewards (reinforcers) that the participant gets when performing the behavior you want (reaction to the stimuli). With the behavioral method of learning, education is very controlled by the teacher. The teacher is the one who chooses what, when, and how the students learn. (Pugsley, 2011)

Behaviorism principles utilized in adult education places emphasis on personal growth and self-actualization in learning. Behavioralistic-style learning puts its focal point on the needs and desires of the learner (Elias & Merriam. 1995). (Walter, 2009, p. 14)

With humanist-style learning for adult learners, the educational system considers adult students to be autonomous and self-motivated in their ever day lives and able to do the same in being responsible for their learning. Following the lead of psychologists Rogers and Maslow, humanist-style education for adult learners left room for spiritual, emotional, and intuitive learning as well as for the personal transforming and fulfilling of the students, and the students’ ability to grow intellectually. (Walter, 2009)

As a method for learning, behaviorism is concerned with learners’ responses to their stimuli. It is also concerned with putting an emphasis on the role the teacher plays in the students’ process of learning. Humanism does not provide educators with the ability to direct the students’ learning process. Humanism provides instructors with a learning atmosphere that is positive, and at the same time, promotes motivation in students and also raises their self-esteem. (Pugsley, 2011)

Analyze and Explain the Essential Connection between the Subjects by Justifying and Making Their Comparison Relevant and Important Humanist and behaviorist theories/principles in education have a lot to offer both educators and students. When synthesized together, these two learning camps would provide learners with a complete education. This type of teaching would encapsulate both humanism and behaviorism. It would also be able to coordinate the two camps together in an intelligent way, at just the right moment, and to the perfect amount. (Combs, Popham, & Hosford, 1977)

Humanism and Behaviorism as Psychological Learning Theories/Principles
The humanism approach and the behaviorist approach to educating adult learners are different from one another. Both camps are interested in teaching adult learners, but they both utilize a unique approach from one another. Which camp does the better job of educating adult students? This research paper informs readers about the benefits and possible drawbacks of both the humanistic and behavioristic theories/principles in education, and also, it considers what it may be like if both camps were utilized together (under one roof) to teach adult education.

Combs, A. W., Popham, W. J., & Hosford, P. L. (1977, Oct.). Behavior
and humanism: A synthesis? Retrieved online at
Elkins, D. N. (2012). The humanistic and behavioral traditions: Areas
of agreement and disagreement. Psychotherapy, 49(4), 465-468.
doi:10.1037/a0027798. PsycINFO database.
Pugsley, L. (2011a, b, c). How to...Begin to get to grips with
educational theory. Education for primary care, 22(4), 266-268.
Academic Search Complete.
Rostami, K. & Khadjooi, K. (Research Institute for Gastroenterology
and Liver Diseases. (2010)., 3(2), 65-70. The implications of
behaviorism and humanism theories in medical education. Gastroenterology and Hepatology from bed to bench. Retrieved
online at file:///C:/Users/Debbie/Downloads/81-361-1-PB.pdf
Walter, P. (2009). Philosophies of adult environmental education.
Adult education quarterly: A journal of research and theory, 60(1),
3-25. ERIC database.


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