Behaviorism and cognitive psychology are two of the most prominent theories in modern psychology. Both of these theories focus on studying human behavior, but they differ in their approach and methodology. In this article, we will explore the major differences between behaviorism and cognitive psychology.


Behaviorism is a psychological theory that focuses on observing and analyzing human behavior. It was developed by John B. Watson in the early 1900s and was later expanded by B.F. Skinner. According to behaviorism, all human behavior is learned through interactions with the environment.

Behaviorists believe that human behavior can be studied objectively without any reference to mental processes or consciousness. They argue that it is unnecessary to study internal mental states such as thoughts, feelings, or beliefs because they cannot be observed directly.

Key Features of Behaviorism:

Cognitive Psychology:

Cognitive psychology is a psychological theory that focuses on studying mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, problem-solving, and reasoning. It emerged as a response to the limitations of behaviorism in explaining complex behaviors.

Cognitive psychologists believe that human behavior is not just a result of external stimuli but also influenced by internal mental processes such as thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes. They argue that understanding these mental processes is essential for understanding complex behaviors.

Key Features of Cognitive Psychology:

Differences Between Behaviorism and Cognitive Psychology:

The major differences between behaviorism and cognitive psychology can be summarized as follows:

In Conclusion:

In conclusion, the major difference between behaviorism and cognitive psychology lies in their focus, methodology, scope, and assumptions. While behaviorism focuses on observable behavior and uses experimental methods to study it, cognitive psychology focuses on internal mental processes using both experimental and non-experimental methods. Understanding the differences between these theories can help us gain a deeper understanding of human behavior.