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History and Systems of Psychology

BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson

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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 19
BEHAVIORISM
J.B. Watson (1878-1958)
J.B.Watson
J.B. Watson is regarded as the founder of the school of behaviorism. He was born in 1878 and died
in 1958. He began as a student of philosophy at the University of Chicago, but later turned to psychology.
He taught for a number of years at Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore USA, where he set up his animal
laboratories. Later he shifted to the corporate world and offered advice to industry relating to advertising
and marketing.
Watson taught that psychology should ignore consciousness and concentrate on concrete facts:
psychology. This was one of the founding principles of the behaviorists' approach. He further said that
psychologists must discard all reference to consciousness and must only look at behavior of animals and
man. Because of his stress on behavior to the neglect of consciousness, he called himself a behaviorist. He
was the first one to proclaim himself as a behaviorist. His methodology revolutionized the subject of
psychology giving a new outlook to it. As consciousness was no more regarded as the concrete method of
gaining knowledge, therefore, psychology focused merely on factual evidences and observable phenomena
after the advent of this school. A measure of how seriously his appeal was taken by his professional
colleagues is that he was elected as the President of American Psychological Association.
In one of his books, entitled "Behavior," he enumerated what behaviorism is all about in
psychology. As the functionalists and the structuralists had defined psychology as the study of
consciousness, Watson defined, as opposed to them, psychology as the science of behavior. Behavior of
animals and humans was in his view what needed to be studied for an understanding of psychology.
Furthermore, Watson asserted that psychologists should use only objective, experimental methods
and should not use introspection as a method. He said that the aim of the study of psychology should be to
provide prediction and control of behavior. This is the basic aim of behaviorism. Behaviorists tend to
develop methods and techniques to control and predict human behavior in order to get the most out of
them. Behaviorism emerged in times when the industrial revolution took place. At that moment in the
history of mankind, the focus was on increasing the productivity of workforce.
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
According to Watsonian behaviorism, behavior can be studied in terms of stimulus-response
patterns. This means, that a stimulus is received by organism and it responds. For example, when someone
touches a hot object, he immediately withdraws his hand from the object. In other words, the hotness of
the object serves as the stimulus while the withdrawing action of the individual is his or her response to the
stimulus. Watson therefore stated that there is nothing mysterious in this action and reaction and all of it
could be explained in simple physiological terms.
Watson denied the value of introspection as data for psychology but said that a "verbal report,"
may be obtained from the subject after the experiment. For example, if an individual is placed in a series of
experiments, he may then be asked about the feelings and the emotions that he faced during the
experiments. It is different from introspection in the sense that here the report is based on the
circumstances that have been artificially created for the experiment. Therefore, verbal report, in view of
Watson may be a source of information for psychologists, but he clearly denied the introspection as a
means.
One of the important contributions of Watson is that in his opinion, thinking is nothing but
"implicit behavior." For example, when an individual manipulates images in his mind, thinking takes place.
The individual relates these images together forming an explanation for the phenomenon that he is trying to
study. Therefore thinking is also a kind of behavior. Watson agreed with the viewpoint of Ivan Pavlov
about learning and said that we learn according to the laws of conditioning as given by Pavlov.
Watson suggested that memory and images are nothing but sensory activities in the brain. This
again refers to the study of behaviorism as a physiological phenomenon rather than a mysterious one. He
said that the sensory activities of the brain can be classified as "molecular behavior."
Watson further proclaimed that by controlling the environment of an organism we could control
and predict its behavior. This is known as environmentalism, that organism is affected by its environment.
It is similar to the idea of Tabula Rasa given by John Locke. According to Locke, the mind of a new born
baby is like a clean slate which is written upon by the surrounding environment. Watson's contribution to
psychology was one of the major developments in the study of psychology.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Methodology, Grading, Course Overview up to Midterm
  2. ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY/PSYCHOLOGY:Socrates, Plato
  3. GREEK THINKERS:Aristotle, Contiguity, Contrast
  4. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna
  5. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Al-Ghazali, Ibn-Rushd, Averroes
  6. RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
  7. ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke
  8. ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot
  9. GERMAN CONTRIBUTION:Wilhelm Liebniz, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel
  10. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS
  11. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Ivan Pavlov, Reflex, Acquisition
  12. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Vladimir Bekhterev
  13. IMPACT OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES ON PSYCHOLOGY:Charles Darwin, Gustav Fechner
  14. STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY:Wilhelm Wundt
  15. FUNCTIONALISM:William James, John Dewey
  16. EUROPEAN FUNCTIONALISTS:David Katz, Edgar Rubin, Jean Piaget
  17. BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness
  18. BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter
  19. BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson
  20. NEO-BEHAVIOURISTS:Clark Hull, Edward Tolman, Edwin Gutherie
  21. NEO-BEHAVIORISTS:B.F. Skinner, Karl Lashley, Donald Hebb, Hobart Mowrer
  22. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Max Wertheimer, Similarity, Proximity, Closure
  23. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
  24. GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
  25. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein
  26. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Alexei Leontiev, K.M Bykov
  27. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL DISORDERS
  28. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL ILLNESS:Philippe Pinel, Sameul Tuke
  29. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE PSYCHOANALYTIC MOVEMENT:The Superego
  30. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL MOVEMENT:Anna Freud
  31. CARL JUNG AND ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  32. JUNG’S ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  33. ALFRED ADLER AND INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Alfred Adler
  34. NEO-FREUDIANS:Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney
  35. NEO-FREUDIANS:Karen Horney, Erich Fromm
  36. ERIKSON and MORENO:J.L. Moreno, Protagonist, Audience, Role playing
  37. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY:Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Positive Psychology
  38. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
  39. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:Biological Approaches
  40. ANTI-PSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT:D.L. Rosenhan, R.D. Laing, Aaron Esterson
  41. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD:Frantz Fanon
  42. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD CHINA AND PAKISTAN
  43. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY
  44. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Consumer Psychology
  45. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Sports Psychology, Positive Psychology