Behaviorism or Behaviourism is the theory that scientific enquiry into behaviour should consist only of what can be observed, such as stimuli and responses. Occult (hidden) qualities such as states of mind were expressly forbidden. Even though it is quite obvious that internal processes of thought go on in all advanced animals, certainly in man, this was not allowed to play any part in psychology because it could not be directly observed.
Behaviourism says that behaviour can be studied scientifically, without knowing what the physiology of an event is, and without using theories such as that of the mind. According to behaviourism, all behaviour can be observed. Furthermore, it relied on another idea, that all human behaviour was learnt, and could be explained by operant conditioning. This is learming by feedback of results, which certainly does occur. However, behaviourists denied the importance of inherited behaviours, instincts, or inherited tendency to behave. They did not believe, or they ignored, the component of heredity. This was the famous blank slate idea, now rejected.
Pavlov investigated classical conditioning, but did not agree with behaviourism or behaviorists. Thorndike and Watson rejected introspective methods and wanted to restrict psychology to experimental methods. Skinner's research focused on operant conditioning.
Today, ideas from behaviourism are used in therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help people cope with anxieties and phobias, as well as with certain forms of addiction.
As a scientific theory, behaviorism was largely replaced by cognitive psychology.
Related pages [change]
- Köhler, W. 1956. The mentality of apes. London: Routledge and K. Paul. (translated from the 2nd revised edition by Ella Winter)
- Skinner B.F. (16 April 1984). "The operational analysis of psychological terms". Behavioral and brain sciences(Print) 7 (4): 547–581. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=9212556. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Baum, William M. (1994). Understanding behaviorism: science, behavior, and culture. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers. ISBN 0-06-500286-5.
- Pinker, Steven 2002. The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. New York, N.Y: Viking. ISBN 0-670-03151-8
- Fraley, LF (2001). "Strategic interdisciplinary relations between a natural science community and a psychology community" (pdf). The Behavior Analyst Today 2 (4): 209–324. http://www.baojournal.com. Retrieved 2008-01-10.