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As apparent from the name, behavioral theory is the study of behavior. John B. Watson, credited for the development of classical behaviorism, argued for the study of observable, measurable behaviors as a means of identifying why organisms (e.g., humans, animals) engage in certain behaviors. Building on the research of Watson, Ivan Pavlov, Edward Thorndike, and other researchers who advanced the field of behaviorism, B. F. Skinner’s seminal 1938 work, The Behavior of Organisms, provided details of his research in the 1930s and further described respondent and operant behaviors.

Respondent behaviors are involuntary, similar to a reflex, and are controlled by the stimulus introduced immediately before the behavior (i.e., antecedent). For example, the puff of air (antecedent) during a glaucoma exam elicits a blink (respondent behavior). Operant ...

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