This approach focuses only on those aspects of behavior, which can be directly observed, and the overwhelming influence of the environment in shaping those behaviors. This approach stands in sharp contrast to the biological, psychoanalytic, and cognitive approaches, which look inside the organism to determine the causes of behavior.
On the other hand, behaviorists minimize the role of the organism, and look for the environmental factors that control behavior. John B. Watson was the first American psychologist to advocate a behavioristic approach. Other proponents have promoted similar kinds of views. Those who favor this approach are known as behaviorists. They optimistically believe that by controlling a person’s environment, it is possible to train him to show any kind of desirable behavior. Behaviors which get rewards from the environment are strengthened and shown.
Thus, by changing the reward system, we can change the behaviors of persons. There is no need to look within the organism to study his internal mental processes, because whatever these mental processes are, they would at one time manifest in the form of observable behaviors. Hence, behavior should be the primary focus of study for the psychologists. Behaviorists adopt experimental and observation methods for determining the environmental causes of behavior.
This approach has a lot of followers in modern psychology, because emphasis on observable behaviors continues till date. Behaviorists have made significant contributions in the field of learning, school educational practices, treatment of mental disorders, controlling aggression, and treating causes of drug-addiction.