Direction and Development of Behaviorism in Psychology

At the beginning of this century, John Watson had immense impact on academic psychology, and now in the last two decades Skinner had a significant role as a passionate behaviorist. He approached to most complex behavior problems with objective methods and rigorous experiments.

He applies his concepts and methods on learning how to solve practical and theoretical issues. For this reason, his influence became so great on psychology and the related sciences.

His review of the S – R theory, in analysis of behavior where he uses the concepts stimulus and response, does not accept that identification. For this reason in particular we pay attention to his views. He rejects the approach of Hail’s theorizing over postulates and theorems, but is committed to study individual subjects or group in place of general regularities. An important and unique feature of his point of view is the study of behaviors that does not cause any stimulation, but were influenced by its outcome.

  • His unique characteristic of behavior research, aims to collect the laws of behavior without any “explaining fictions.”
  • These two articles reflect the opinion of whether the theory and the psychology of learning and case studies are in the scientific method (1956).
  • In the works of Skinner, the great role belongs to the laboratory, i.e. experiments, because he respects well-controlled data.
  • Thus he showed that certain way (mode) of corroboration produce both the learning period and the period of closure, specific but reproducible changes in response.
  • He believes that it is more necessary to focus on the simple psychology of behavioral phenomena, rather than trying to understand and predict complex phenomena.
  • An example of this would be a dove, and the lab, which is applicable to other organisms and environments.

Skinner’s approach to the study of behavior is used in a number of applied areas, where we are faced with practical problems such as: technology, education, culture and the development of pilot companies, treatment of psychotics, autistic children, mentally handicapped and so on.

However, Skinner who speaks of the behavior stresses that the behavior of an individual is the product of objective environment, and therefore can understand this behavior. He argues that the controlled behavior benefits the general welfare. But how to control it? According to him, the best is to approach to functional analysis, which sets the relation of cause and effect. The most commonly encountered terms in psychology are: independent and dependent variables. The independent variable is the experimenter, and dependent is changing under the influence of this manipulation.

Let’s give an example of a very aggressive people who are very intelligent. With them we can predict aggressiveness on the basis of measurements of intelligence, but we do not know which variables led us to increase or lessen aggression. So Skinner in functional analysis exposes that it is not necessary to speak about the mechanisms that operate in the body. This would mean that the behavior is best controlled by changing the environment, but is not significantly what happens inside the body. This did not find the approval of psychologists, who are not influenced by Skinner.

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