Behaviourism proposes that all behaviour is learned and maintained by its consequences. It does not theorise about ‘mental events’.
Classical conditioning describes how reflex behaviours can become associated with neutral stimuli in the environment.
Operant conditioning describes how the incidence of freely occurring behaviours can be increased or reduced as a result of the incidence of pleasant and unpleasant consequences for those behaviours, and how behaviour can be ‘shaped’ by the use of rewards.
Punishment is only effective as a means of behavioural control if it is severe, contingent and consistently applied. However, even when these conditions are in place, it is only successful in temporarily suppressing a behaviour in a specific context.
Reinforcement is used to help children with learning difficulties make progress at home and at school by using a technique known as applied behavioural analysis (ABA).