be·​hav·​ior·​ist | \ bi-ˈhā-vyə-rist How to pronounce behaviorist (audio) , bē- \

Definition of behaviorist

1 : a person who advocates or practices behaviorism
2 : a person who specializes in the study of behavior an animal behaviorist

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from behaviorist

behaviorist adjective

Examples of behaviorist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Yet the Schuylers were also behaviorists, determined to apply the ideas of the child psychologist John Broadus Watson, who had been a student of Pavlov’s and discounted the influence of heredity. Darryl Pinckney, The New York Review of Books, "Escaping Blackness," 10 Mar. 2020 This has made the management of stray dogs a polarizing subject, with some people killing the animals inhumanely, says Anindita Bhadra, animal behaviorist at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata. National Geographic, "Stray dogs have the natural ability to understand human gestures," 17 Jan. 2020 Ingrid Johnson, a cat behaviorist and vet technician at a cat-specific clinic, says videos are more fulfilling for cats than laser pointers. Sage Lazzaro, Wired, "Cats, Once YouTube Stars, Are Now an ‘Emerging Audience’," 22 Jan. 2020 The ambassador nudges those sea lions back into the bay with a large wooden board, having been trained in the nudging technique by sea lion behaviorists at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. Steve Rubenstein,, "Arp, arp, arp. Sea lions still hanging around Pier 39 — 30 years later," 17 Jan. 2020 Back scratching could also promote hygiene and health, perhaps as a way to ward off ticks, which often run rampant on Icelandic islands in the summer, study author Dora Biro, an animal behaviorist at the University of Oxford, tells Guarino. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "In a First, Scientists Film a Puffin Scratching Its Back With a Stick," 24 Dec. 2019 Animal behaviorists and neuroimmunologists use the term sickness behavior to describe the observable behavior changes that occur during illness. Joshua Schrock, The Conversation, "Feeling sick is an emotion meant to help you get better faster," 17 Dec. 2019 These institutional leaders also brushed off experts (psychologists, sociologists, and organizational behaviorists, among others) who have long offered innovative ideas for improving safety and reducing health care mishaps. Kathleen Sutcliffe, Time, "The Health Care Industry Needs to be More Honest About Medical Errors," 5 Nov. 2019 Russell Hartstein, a certified dog/cat behaviorist and trainer and the CEO of Fun Paw Care, suggests cutting up a T-shirt or even an old bed-sheet as a costume. NBC News, "Last minute Halloween costumes ideas for adults, kids and pets," 24 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'behaviorist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of behaviorist

1913, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about behaviorist

Time Traveler for behaviorist

Time Traveler

The first known use of behaviorist was in 1913

See more words from the same year

Statistics for behaviorist

Last Updated

16 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Behaviorist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for behaviorist


variants: or chiefly British behaviourist \ -​rəst How to pronounce behaviourist (audio) \

Medical Definition of behaviorist

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a person who advocates or practices behaviorism
2 : a person who specializes in the study of behavior Animal behaviorists are often consulted regarding such problems as aggression, self-mutilation, food aversion and inappropriate urination or defecation.— Tom Ewing, Dog Watch, January 2009



Medical Definition of behaviorist (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to behaviorism behaviorist psychology

More from Merriam-Webster on behaviorist

Britannica English: Translation of behaviorist for Arabic Speakers

Comments on behaviorist

What made you want to look up behaviorist? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!