Origins Of Behaviorism Essay

2707 words - 11 pages

Origins of Behaviorism Behaviourism originated with the work of John B. Watson from 1913.
Behaviourism is based on the following sets of claims:

(1) Psychology is the study of behaviour. Psychology is not the
science of mind. This statement also forms a type of behaviourism: “Methodological”
behaviourism claims that psychology should concern itself with the
behaviour of organisms (human and non-human). Psychology should not
concern itself with mental states or events or with constructing
internal information processing accounts of behaviour. In its
historical foundations, methodological behaviourism shares with
analytical behaviourism the influence of positivism. One of the goals
of positivism was to unify psychology with natural science.

Methodological behaviourism is a dominant theme in the writings of
John Watson.

John Broadus Watson was one of the most prominent psychologist
scientists of his era, writing on applied psychology for academic
journals, business publications, and popular magazines and is
considered to be the founding father of behaviorism. John was born in
South Carolina to Emma and Pickens Watson in 1878. The Watson family
lived in Greenville, South Carolina and was extremely poor. John spent
much of his boyhood in the relative isolation and poverty of rural
South Carolina.

In his earlier years, Watson used animal subjects to study behavior.
Later, he turned to the study of human behaviors and emotions. Until
World War I, he collaborated his studies with Adolph Meyer. After the
war he resumed his work at Johns Hopkins University. He wanted to
develop techniques to allow him to condition and control the emotions
of human subjects. Watson made the notorious claim that, given a dozen
healthy infants; he could determine the adult personalities of each
one, "regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities,
vocations and the race of his ancestors." While making such a claim
seems ridiculous today, at the time, many people found it threatening.

(2) Behaviour can be described and explained without making reference
to mental events or too internal psychological processes. The sources
of behaviour are external (in the environment), not internal (the
mind). This is a research program within psychology, called “Psychological”
behaviourism. It purports to explain human and animal behaviour in
terms of external physical stimuli, responses, learning histories and

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