Behaviorism is the psychological approach that poses scientific and objective methods of measuring learned-observable behavior. Behaviorism focuses on observable behavior rather than internal thinking or emotions. This approach focuses solely on stimuli being introduced into a controlled environment, observing behavior learned through interaction within this controlled environment. Methodological behaviorism and radical behaviorism are two forms of behaviorist theory sharing the view that the goal of behaviorism is to control and predict behavior. Watsons methodological and Skinners radical behaviorism also recognized cognitive or internal events, but these events are not observable or measurable and therefore cannot be used to explain behavior. Behaviorists consider the responses to environmental stimuli as a factor that shapes peoples’ behavior and actions. Skinner’s behavior theory focused on the aspects of induction of behavior in a controlled environment. The theory, called operant conditioning, presents an idea that punishments or reinforcements shape behavior. The consequences of this conditioning determine its effectiveness. The behavior conditioning is said to have effectively occurred when the behavior recurs.
Organizational Behavior Management is the term most associated with behaviorist theory in organizations. Behaviorist based learning is the foundation for training employees on working safely. In a controlled environment with a set of safety rules and policies behavior is affected through the use of spot checks or observing the work behavior of an employee. Positive reinforcement through praise, rewards, recognition encourages repetition of safe work behavior. Negative reinforcement (discipline, suspension, termination), is used to deter unsafe behavior; it also facilitates the employee learning process. Behaviorist learning is highly effective in the rail industry. Safe employee behavior is observable and explained by metrics based on fact-based data. Internal events can be analyzed but are not a determinate in the consequences of safe employee behavior.