Comparison and Contrast of Behavioral and Cognitive Theories

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Comparison and Contrast of Behavioral and Cognitive Theories Key concepts/unique attributes Both B. F. Skinner and Albert Bandura believed behavior is the result of what is learned from experience (Corey, 2009). Whereas Skinner believed environmental influences control people, Bandura believed people are goal-oriented and have specific intentions and purposes. He believed the basis for learning is observing others. Traditional behavioral theory is based on the concepts of classical and operant conditioning and that learning produces behavior (Corey, 2009). Inappropriate or abnormal behavior results when learning is based on maladapted learning, or learning as a result of maladaptive reactions. Cognitive theory (CT) claims faulty and maladaptive thinking causes psychological disturbances (Corey, 2009). If the thinking can be corrected, so can the resultant disturbance. Cognitive processes determine how people emotionally experience and react to their environment. Ward (2011) wrote that Ellis believed individuals "have a tendency towards becoming aware of (their) irrationality and working steadily towards rationality" (p. 106). In cognitive therapy, clients learn new and more effective ways of thinking (Corey, 2009). Cognitive theory takes into consideration the client's early childhood history but believes behaviors continue to be reinforced throughout the lifespan because of patterned thought processes. In therapy, clients explore maladaptive thoughts and learn to replace them with new rational and appropriate thinking (Corey, 2009). The primary difference between these two theories is the emphasis on overt behavior in behavioral theory and in cognitive theory, the focus is on cognition or individual thought processes (Corey, 2009). Historical/contextual development of the theory Two influential contributors to behavioral theory were
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