History & Systems of Psychology
Chapters 12 & 13 -Behaviorism
Background of Behaviorism
Objective psychology (study of measurable phenomena) already well developed in Russia.
Structuralists used introspection but wanted a pure science; functionalists used introspection and observation of human behavior and wanted an applied science.
Some functionalists (i.e. Cattell) wanted a more scientific method and drifted toward behaviorism because it used scientific research but was also practical in application.
Early Behaviorism—Ivan Pavlov
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)—
Research on digestion led to Nobel Prize and also led to discovery of the conditioned reflex.
UCS – UCR, CS + UCS –CR
Pavlov believed he had discovered the physical mechanism underlying associationism.
He had little respect for psychologists, except for Thorndike.
Early Behaviorism—Edward Thorndike
Edward Thorndike (1874-1949)
Connectionism – concern with how neural connections or bonds between sensory impression and responses change their strength as a function of experience
Law of Effect – psychology’s first major law of learning
Behavior is strengthened when followed by a “satisfying” effect
John Watson and American Behaviorism
Watson (1878-1958)—work at Johns Hopkins until 1920 established new field of behaviorism; after 1920 Watson was very successful in advertising
All behavior is conditioned (learned), and the rules which govern learning can be studied scientifically and articulated.
The goal of psychology is to “predict & control behavior.” (not interested in consciousness)
John Watson and American Behaviorism, cont.
Believed Thorndike’s law of effect to be unnecessarily mentalistic
By 1920s, Thorndike & Watson represented two major views of behaviorism
Thorndike’s law of effect (i.e., reinforcement of behavior) – foundation for Skinner’s work
Watson’s reliance on associative principles of contiguity & frequency
John Watson and American Behaviorism, cont.
Little Albert experiment – thought showed how emotions are learned
Peter & the rabbit –eliminated fear through counterconditioning; first example of behavior therapy
Watson was a radical behaviorist; those following him tended to be less extreme, allowing for the existence of cognitive or physiological influences on behavior.
William McDougall (1871-1938)—Unlike Russians & Watson, who studied reflexive behavior, McDougall was interested in purposive behavior.
Saw behavior as goal-directed and stimulated by some instinct or internal motive rather than by environmental events; also as reinforced by need reduction
Purposive behavior is spontaneous, persistent, & varied (in types of behavior used), and it ends when the goal is reached.
Debate with Watson in 1924
Neobehaviorism - Definitions
Positivism: belief that science should study only things that can be experienced directly
Logical positivism: a philosophy of science stating that theoretical concepts are useful only if they are tied to the observable world through operational definitions
Operational definition: a definition that relates an abstract concept to the procedures used to measure it
Operationism: the belief that all abstract scientific concepts should be operationally defined
Neobehaviorism: resulted from combination of behaviorism and logical positivism
Theories must be tied to observables & all terms operationally defined
Use of nonhuman research subjects (easier and thought to have very similar learning processes)
The learning process considered to be of primary importance, because it is how organisms adapt
We will follow two tracks developing from the behaviorist foundation:
Skinner and operant conditioning
Tolman and cognitive-behaviorism, building on McDougall’s ideas
B.F. Skinner & Operant Conditioning
B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)—radical behaviorist, advocated study of behavior alone, not the mind or mental events like “thinking” or “choosing”
Not interested in reflexive (respondent) behavior; like Thorndike, focus was on operant behavior (behavior which operates on the environment to produce certain consequences)
B.F. Skinner & Operant Conditioning, cont.
Operant conditioning—behavior is modified by reinforcement which follows it
Not interested in S-R relationships or involuntary behaviors (such as salivation)
Behavior is strengthened by reinforcement
Behavior is weakened by punishment
Applications of Skinner’s Principles
General rule: If you change reinforcement contingencies, you also change behavior.
Behavior modification techniques used with broad range of problems: smoking, alcoholism, shyness, phobias, etc.
Also very useful in working with animals, children, mentally retarded persons
Neobehaviorism— Edward Tolman
Edward Tolman (1886-1959)—His purposive behaviorism considered role of cognition and purpose in behavior
Intervening variables—psychological processes mediate between stimulus & response (S-IV-R)
Classic experiments on latent learning and cognitive map(S-S rather than S-R connections)
Learning not mechanistic, trial & error, but is marked by discontinuities, insight