This form of study examines all kinds of behavior, the effect of the environment on people, the way new behavior is learned, and the factors leading people to change their habits or remain the same.
This study states that all kinds of behavior stem from different interactions with the environment, which means the circumstances we have come across in life, the people we have encountered, etc., shape the way we behave in life.
This shaping of behavior takes place in two forms: classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning states that pairing of stimuli shapes our behavior.
Consider the example of a specific fragrance or aroma. The minute the fragrance hits our nostrils, certain intense emotions are triggered in our body. Now, the fragrance or aroma by itself does not conduce to those emotions, instead our mind has paired the stimuli of that fragrance with a loved one's scent.
The operant conditioning, on the other hand, takes into consideration the environment in which we exist. This kind of conditioning stems from the manner in which we respond to the situations, circumstances, etc., presented to us by the environment we live in. To explain this theory, let us consider an example.
You take a route to reach your destination. After driving a while, the road ends abruptly. You take another route, which takes you to the destination. The next time you want to go there, you'll take the 2nd route, since you learned from your mistake. Thus, operant conditioning involves acting differently due to the natural result of one's past experiences.
What Does a Behavioral Psychologist Do?
A behavioral psychologist observes, studies, and analyzes the different forms of human behavior, and finds out the different reasons that trigger such behavior. Today, we hear about scores of personality disorders, eating disorders like anorexia, orthorexia, etc., behavioral disorders, obsessive thinking disorders, schizophrenia, and so on.
All these disorders have one thing in common. They are triggered due to predominance of unhealthy or negative thoughts. A psychologist studies mindset of such people by trying to enter their minds and understanding their thought process. They listen to people's problems and help them fight depression, self pity and self condemnation to build self-confidence.
Then, the graduate program that follows will equip the person with information about the history of psychology, the principles of behavioral psychology, techniques to analyze different behavior, etc. This will take about 4 years to complete. In the masters and doctorate programs, the psychologists are taken to an in-depth study on the mind.
While this formal training is vital, it is important to remember that as a behavioral psychologist, you need to have a lot of compassion and patience to help people out of their depressive situation. You should be able to empathize with them, encourage, and motivate them.
The extensive training will be an entire waste if you cannot understand the minds of people with different disorders, and are unable to help them out of their condition. Sincere compassion, concern, patience, and diligent efforts are some of the essential requirements in a behavioral psychologist.