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It is known that psychology as a science of behavior and different mental processes includes a number of approaches which make it possible to study human behavior and mental processes in a proper way. They are the following ones: Cognitive approach, Psychodynamic approach, Developmental approach, Behavioral approach, Biological approach.(Moore 2010)
John Broadus Watson is one of the famous American psychologists who paid special attention to the behavior of individuals. He wrote: “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”.
My goal in this paper is to explain what the above mentioned quote tells us about Watson’s approach to the study of psychology.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF BEHAVIORISM
John B. Watson is considered to be a true behaviorist as he studied only those things that could be observed, measured and recorded. His approach is based on the fact that psychology studies human behavior, but not human mind.
Definition of the term behaviorism
Behaviorism is a behavioral theory which is based on the fact that all types of human behavior are acquired by the individuals through conditioning that is connected with the individual’s interaction with environment. According to this approach, free will of the individual is illusory. The behavior is influenced by the environment. (Nance 1990)
The rise of behaviorism in psychology
It is known that in 1913, the first phase of the so-called Behavioral Revolution was launched by the American psychologist John B. Watson. He introduces one of the forms of behaviorism, the classical S-R behaviorism which “emphasized publicly observable stimuli(S) and responses(R) and spurned supposedly unobservable, centrally initiated processes like consciousness”. (Moore, 2010, para.4)
Unfortunately, it was proved that this form of behaviorism was inadequate as it could not give thorough explanation of “variability and apparent spontaneity of some forms of behavior”. That is why the second phase of the Behavioral Revolution was introduced. In this phase, there were three terms used by the behaviorists – stimuli(S), organismic entity (O) and response(S). The organismic terms were used to mediate the relation between S and R. It means that the response is “related to the mediator inside the organism rather than to the environment”. For example, if the organism’s mood varied, the behavior of the organism was variable too. This form of behaviorism is also called mediational S-O-R neo-behaviorism. (Moore 2010)