Essay on Intro to Psychology: behaviorism

Sciences, history and different fields of knowledge witnessed numerous outstanding thoughts and statements that occupy minds of millions even today. One of them belongs to one of the greatest psychologists and philosophers of all the times. To remind, it looks in next way:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well -formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist i might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even a beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talent, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors” – J.B. Watson (1930, p. 104).

Being assigned to think about J.B. Watson’s message in noted quote, the reference to fundamental terms seems to be to the point. In this regard, let’s remind that psychology is a kind of science that deals with mental processes and behavior. This definition is pretty frankly, however, it is suitable for our analysis. According to it the subject of psychology science includes two easy coexisting fields – mental processes and behavior. This approach displays contemporary understanding of scientific subject, but it was not so all the time. The history of psychology witnessed numerous ideas and original views, which often were contrary to each other and the time when analyzed quote appeared was one of the most tense periods of psychological thoughts confrontation. There is the talk about two main studies – introspectionism and behaviorism. The first doctrine believes that the entire field of psychology should be derived from data obtained one’s own mental and emotional state’s observation and examination (looking inside yourself). This studied was first found by Wilhelm Wundt and then much contributed by Hermann Ebbinghaus. On the other hand, behaviorism study proclaims that all things organism do should be regarded only like actions and mannerisms made in conjunction with its environment (Todd, Morris, Edwards 1974, p.24). Consequently, the subject of psychology are behaviors only.

There is no need to provide pros and cons for each of studies considering that the time of their critical controversies are long been passed. However, some deeper look at behaviorism is required as J.B. Watson is known as the founder of this psychology school. It is stated that the quote about “12 infants” should be interpreted as brief and laconic message that brings the entire meaning of behaviorism’s psychology school.

It is not so difficult to get that the theory of behaviorism is featured with strong sense of objectivism, contrary to introspectionism which is mostly directed to value of individuality. Behaviorism’s objectivity is grounded on two main points. At first, this study does not see differences between public and private observable processes. At second, preferences of this psychological school suggest that humans are not different from other creations (animals) with their behaviors. For example, in J.B. Watson’s study the main emphasize is put on organism’s reaction to certain given situation, inside and outside stimulus. The point here is that all organisms respond the same stimulus in same environment absolutely equally. In fact, his theory was largely derived from Russian’s scientists Pavlov’s studies about conditional and unconditional reflexes. That’s what J.B. Watson wrote about behaviorism in his the most famous work “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It (“The Behaviorist Manifesto”): “Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist’s total scheme of investigation” (Watson, 1913). This quote shows that famous scholar put large emphasizes on empirical meaning of behavioral psychology. He assumed that behaviors could have observational correlations, however, J.B. Watson denied their differences between species. Eventually, we can speak a lot about ideas of J.B. Watson radical behaviorisms. Plenty of respectful scholars presented their own views on his theory. In the aspect of given assignment, it is much more important to get the heart and general meaning of theory. Seemingly, the symbiosis of his fundamental ideas is pretty clear presented in David Cohen’s work “J.B. Watson, the founder of behaviorism”:

– psychology is a natural science;
– behavior is the fundamental biological mode of all living creatures;
– there are native ways of behavior in reaction to the environment as a result of evolution;
– organisms accommodate and adjust to the impact of the environment upon them by changes in behavior according to specific principles of development and learning, for example, reflex conditioning;
– insofar as consciousness and its introspection is held to be uniquely human, it should be seen, even in 1913, as at best a limited area of psychological research compared with such basic aspects of psychology as: instincts, learning and habit formation, sensations, perception, attention, emotions, personality and social behavior, psychopathology, and the many behavioral methods available for studying and changing them;
– insofar as conscious experience is a unique property of humans, its study is as much the province of the physicist and chemist in their research as it is of psychologists;
– while there are no such entities as mental states— images, ideas, or thoughts—what people say is a response and should be regarded as such. If they say they see or hear something we accept it as such; what its theoretical status is, is another matter (Cohen 1979, p. 24).

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