Behaviorist and Memory

Prior to engaging in this discussion, be sure to review Chapters 3 and 4 from your text and any relevant Instructor Guidance.  This guidance can be very helpful as it may include strategies that support your preferred learning.

For this discussion, please choose one of the two options: behaviorism or cognitivism. Taking on the role of either a behaviorist or a cognitivist, you will demonstrate your understanding of your chosen psychological view by explaining why your theory and its history are important for others to understand and apply.

  1. Based on your own experiences, the resources listed above, and the scholarly article from the Ashford University Library you locate, analyze how learning and theory apply in real-life situations by listing the pros and cons of each.
  2. Provide evidence for your stance from your resources.
  3. Please describe two real-life scenarios you have experienced and explain how you applied these psychological principles to the personal, social, or educational issues you mention. Please do not share anything that you would be uncomfortable discussing in a public forum.
  4. Based on the camp you chose, continue to answer the following:

Additional behaviorist questions to consider:

  • Do you agree with the behaviorist view that learning can be described simply in terms of stimulus-response relationships?
  • Do you agree with the behaviorist view that learning only occurs if there is an outward manifestation? Why, or why not?
  • What are the potential advantages of defining learning as a change in behavior when considering your own career (or future career) and/or in your relationships?

Additional cognitivist questions to consider:

  • Do you agree with the cognitivist view that thinking is not a behavior but actually creates important implications affecting behavior
  • Why do cognitivists disagree with the behaviorist view that learning only occurs if there is an outward manifestation? What are the implications to the behavior(s) it identifies?
  • Cognitivism suggests that what we know to be true affects our behaviors and how we learn, What implications might this have in your own career (or future career) and/or in your relationships?

Example answer:

This week I will be taking the role of a behaviorist. Behaviorism focuses on overt or visible behavior meaning being able to witness a behavior being played out. Behaviorist John B. Watson believed that “rather than studying subjective feelings such as hunger, we should study visible behavior such as eating” (Lieberman, 2012, pg. 21). Behaviorists also argued that instead of speculating about what a person might be thinking, it would work best to present rewards, for example, then observe the effects it produces. It does not take into account thoughts or feelings the way that Cognitivism does, behaviorism focuses on outward manifestation instead.

A pro of behaviorism is that it can be observed therefore making it easy to measure with the naked eye. We are able to dissect if a difference exists from when the subject began to where they find themselves now. Another pro is that it is easy to implement and examine. It does not go into major depths of their thinking process or how their brain systems functions when responding to stimuli the way cognitivism does.

A con is that people can change their behaviors unexpectedly. They could make it seem like they have changed their behavior but in reality may only be doing so in order to receive the reward at the end, and may not be logically understanding why they should do the things they are doing. A second con is that it doesn’t require a lot of thinking in order to achieve wanted results. Once the subject notices the pattern form after several trials they will just repeat the same steps, like a routine.

A personal experience for me was when I was little and would misbehave or do something I knew I wasn’t supposed to, my mom would just open her eyes really wide and give me “the look”, and I knew what it meant. For me, getting “the look” was worse than getting scolded in front of other people, the way many parents do in attempt to “discipline” their kids. It took little to no effort for me to quickly grasp and associate that look with the desired behavior. I classify this as operant conditioning, which is one of the two types of conditioning in behaviorism; I classify it as OC because I have learned how to act differently based on the natural consequences of my previous actions.

Another experience is in first grade when the teacher wanted the class to be ready for the next lesson, she would wait for the class to be quiet and we all folded our hands in front of us. She would reward those who got ready first and had the cleanest area around them with two pieces of candy. This I classify as classical conditioning because she used positive reinforcement to get the desired behavior out of her students.

Yes, I agree with the behaviorists view that learning can be described simply in terms of stimulus-response because I have witnessed how someone’s behavior causes consequences whether positive or negative. Not every stimulus-response scenario occurs in a lab. These scenarios are presented to us on a daily basis and we don’t even realize it.

I also agree with the behaviorist view that learning only occurs if there is an outward manifestation because otherwise how can we prove that learning has taken place? If you are teaching a group of kids how to read, in order to verify that they have learned, you need to hear them read. You cannot imagine that they are silently reading to themselves.

The potential advantages of defining learning as a change in behavior when considering my own career (or future career) and/or in my relationships is that it will help guide me when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. I will be able to deter from making jokes my husband doesn’t like and will upset him, for example, and therefore be able to avoid a negative experience.


Lieberman, D. A. (2012).  Psychology of Learning  San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Question 2:

Prior to engaging in this discussion, please read “The Development of Memory Efficiency and Value-Directed Remembering Across the Life Span” article, watch the Memory processes, Storage and Recall and Three Kinds of Memory videos, and review any relevant instructor guidance.  This guidance can be very helpful as it may include strategies that support your preferred learning.

  1. For this discussion, first describe how memory development and learning affect each other by defining the types of memories listed below in your own words (the use of quotations is inappropriate) and citing personal examples of each.
    • Episodic Memories
    • Semantic Memories
    • Procedural Memories
  2. Next, apply basic research methods in psychology to your initial statements on these issues by researching at least one peer-reviewed article per memory type (three articles total) in the Ashford University Library to supplement your definition of each.  (For assistance in finding peer-reviewed articles in the Ashford University Library please view this tutorial.)


  1. After completing your research, critically analyze and discuss, in depth, how each of your real-life examples represents each type of memory.


  1. Lastly, evaluate and comment on how episodic memories, semantic memories, and procedural memories each potentially affect how a person learns.

Example answer:

I see memory as being the vault in a bank; it holds all the information (money) needed to take part in everyday life. People generally don’t stop and think how important memory is in order to accomplish day to day activities. It’s like a vault that holds all lived experiences that get stored and can then be retrieved or recalled at a later point, or when needed. There are three types of memory which are as follows: Episodic, Semantic, and Procedural.

I describe episodic memory to be just like it sounds: episodes. Like episodes of your life which include autobiographical events such as birthdays, holidays, as well as any personal experiences. I remember getting my first puppy, my siblings and I were in the pool and my mom had told us our dad had a surprise for us, but we didn’t know what it was. When she saw him pull up to the driveway she told us he had arrived and we all jumped out of the pool soaking wet, and made our way to the front of the house and there he was standing with a big cardboard box and we saw the puppy.

Semantic memory sounds almost like “cement”, to me at at least. Like cement, which is strong and long-lasting, semantic memory is part of long-term memory. It holds common things like how to pronounce your name, how to count to ten, names of countries, and names of colors and shapes. Semantic memory harbors facts that aren’t acquired from personal experiences. An example of this the fact that I know Peru’s capital is Lima, and that Washington is a state while Washington D.C. is the U.S. capital.

Procedural memory, like procedure, helps in remembering how to do things and how perform certain procedures. Such include procedures followed when a surgeon is in the middle of performing a surgery, or the basics like walking, going up the stairs, bike riding, etc. Examples of procedural memory include my knowledge on how to ride a bike or how to play the flute.

Episodic memory, as previously stated, is like autobiographical episodes of one’s life. Memory of a typical individual declines with age, and episodic memory, which retains contextual information about personally experienced events in one’s life seems especially vulnerable to aging (Mohanty, Naveh-Benjamin, & Ratnwshwar, 2016. Pp. 25). For people with Alzheimer’s for example, episodic memory is one of the first things they cannot recall. They forget details from their life, like if their mental cassette has started to reset, and little by little these details escape their mind.

In contrast, patients with Alzheimer’s disease typically display impairments in episodic memory, but with semantic deficits of a much lesser magnitude (Irish, Addis, Hodges, Piguet, 2012. Pp. 2178). While in episodic memory personal events are forgotten first, with semantic memory basic facts such as colors and shapes are not forgotten as easily.

Last, there is procedural memory which is retained longer by individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, suggesting that structuring of activities based on well learned habits may preserve function (Bonder, Zadorny, Martin, 1998. Pp.88). This demonstrates that procedural memory which includes something as getting dressed is retained longer in some individuals.


Staveley-Taylor, H. (Director). (1996). Memory processes [Video file]. In The study of memory. Retrieved from the Films On Demand database.

Staveley-Taylor, H. (Director). (1996). Storage and recall [Video file]. In The study of memory. Retrieved from the Films On Demand database.

Staveley-Taylor, H. (Director). (1996). Three kinds of memory [Video file]. In The study of memory. Retrieved from the Films On Demand database.

Mohanty, P., Naveh-Benjamin, M., Ratneshwar, S., Psychology and Aging, Vol 31(1), Feb, 2016 pp. 25-36. Publisher: American Psychological Association; [Journal Article], Database: PsycARTICLES

Irish,M., Addis, D.R., Hodges, J.R., Piguet, O., Neurological Disorders and Brain Damage (2012, March 11). Publisher: United Kingdom : Oxford University Press; [Journal Article], Database:  PSYCINFO

Bonder, B., Zadorzny, C., Martin, R., Dressing in Alzheimer’s disease: Executive function and procedural memory,           Vol 19(2), 1998 pp.88-92. Publisher: Haworth Press; [Journal Article], Database: PsycINFO

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