Classical Conditioning and Behaviorism
When taking psychology classes I have always enjoyed learning about behaviorism because it seems so cut and dry; if someone wanted to get a clear understanding or their fellow man, all they would have to do is sit back and observe. With behaviorism there is no Id, Ego or Superego to take into account, just raw behavior. While this approach seems simple enough, I feel that it can only offer an incomplete window into seeing how people function and react with various things on a day to day basis.
I don’t feel that behaviorism alone can define people on their interaction with the environment they are presented. Freud was on psychologist who voiced concerns to this as well. Freud believed that while environmental factors help to shake who we are as human beings, the subconscious mind is much more influential in the shaping of personality and behavior.
Behaviorism and conditioning has its share of success stories especially when used to curb undesirable habits such as smoking and drinking, however they have also had their moments of darkness as well as seen in 1920 with John Watson and his little
experiments that starred a young boy dubbed Little Albert. During Watson’s experiments to help explain conditioning, During his experiments Watson exposed Albert to a
number of animals and recorded Albert’s initial reactions which were next to none at all. Watson then began exposing the same animals to Albert, and providing loud bangs that startled Albert at the same time. Eventually Albert began to cry at the sight of the animals even when they were not seen simultaneously with the loud bang.
Watson reasoned that Albert’s lack of visible emotion to his first exposure to the animals was based on the fact that humans are born with blank slates in their minds, and that all feelings and emotions are born of new encounters with the surrounding environment. Watson’s belief in Tabula Rosa is a great example of how psychology continues to evolve and come to new understandings, new research shows that new born babies when hearing their mothers make the “A” sound can make the mouth shape necessary to imitate that sound.() This research suggests that cognitive thought is alive and well in the functioning of new born babies, it also give support to Freud’s claims that humans are born possessing Eros and Thanatos.
Looking at Watson’s body of works some of it can seem somewhat comical because some of his observations seem to be common sense. In behaviorism by John B. Watson he explains and gives examples of behaviorism at work in everyday life. One example go’s as follows. “If I am hungry, stomach contractions begin to drive me ceaselessly to and fro” Yes it was a different time the n but come on Watson. “If in this restlessness I spy apples on a tree, I immediately climb the tree and pluck the apples and
begin to eat. When surfeited the stomach contractions cease”.(Watson 14-15). Maybe too many people...