Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy What Is the Main Idea of the Behavioural Perspective on Personality?

What Is the Main Idea of the Behavioural Perspective on Personality?

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The behavioural perspective on personality is one of the major theoretical perspectives in psychology. This perspective emphasises the role of environment and learning in shaping an individual’s personality. According to the behavioural perspective, personality is not determined by genetic factors or innate characteristics but rather by the individual’s experiences and interactions with the environment.

The behavioural perspective on personality is based on the principles of behaviourism, which is a school of psychology that focuses on observable behaviour and the environmental factors that influence it. Behaviourism emphasises the role of reinforcement and punishment in shaping behaviour, and it views learning as the key process through which behaviour is acquired.

From a behavioural perspective, personality is seen as a collection of learned behaviours that are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning is the process through which an individual’s behaviour is shaped by the environment through reinforcement or punishment. Reinforcement is the process of increasing the likelihood of a behaviour occurring again in the future, while punishment is the process of decreasing the likelihood of a behaviour occurring again in the future.

The behavioural perspective on personality emphasises the importance of the environment in shaping an individual’s personality. It suggests that personality is not determined by genetic factors or innate characteristics, but rather by the individual’s experiences and interactions with the environment. According to this perspective, individuals are not born with a particular personality but rather develop it through their experiences.

Behavioural theorists believe that personality is shaped through a process of conditioning. This process involves the acquisition of new behaviours through reinforcement or punishment. Reinforcement is the process of strengthening a behaviour by rewarding it, while punishment is the process of weakening a behaviour by punishing it.

For example, a child who receives praise and attention for good behaviour is more likely to repeat that behaviour in the future. On the other hand, a child who is scolded or punished for bad behaviour is less likely to repeat that behaviour in the future. Over time, these experiences shape the child’s personality by reinforcing certain behaviours and suppressing others.

The behavioural perspective on personality also emphasises the role of observation and modelling in shaping behaviour. Observational learning is the process of acquiring new behaviours by watching others and imitating their actions. Modelling is the process of imitating the behaviour of others who are perceived as role models.

For example, a child may observe an older sibling or parent engaging in a particular behaviour and imitate that behaviour. Over time, this observational learning can shape the child’s personality by reinforcing certain behaviours and suppressing others.

The behavioural perspective on personality has been applied to a variety of areas, including education, clinical psychology, and organisational behaviour. In education, the principles of behaviourism have been used to develop effective teaching strategies that reinforce desired behaviours and discourage undesired behaviours.

In clinical psychology, the principles of behaviourism have been used to develop effective treatments for a variety of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression. Behavioural therapies focus on changing behaviour through reinforcement and punishment, and they have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of mental health disorders.

In organisational behaviour, the principles of behaviourism have been used to develop effective management strategies that reinforce desired behaviours and discourage undesired behaviours. For example, managers may use reinforcement strategies such as bonuses or promotions to reward employees who perform well, while using punishment strategies such as demotions or reprimands to discourage employees who do not perform well.

The behavioural perspective on personality emphasises the role of environment and learning in shaping an individual’s personality. According to this perspective, personality is not determined by genetic factors or innate characteristics but rather by the individual’s experiences and interactions with the environment. The behavioural perspective suggests that personality is a collection of learned behaviours that are acquired through conditioning, observation, and modelling. This perspective has been applied to a variety of areas, including education, clinical psychology, and organisational behaviour, and it has been shown to be effective in shaping behaviour and reducing symptoms of mental health disorders.


Tim Williamson, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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