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Perspectives - Research Paper Example

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Perspectives of Watson, Tolman and Skinner (Name) (Institution) (Professor) (Course) (Date) Introduction Any serious student of Psychology would observe that ‘behavior’ was not a topic that was discussed in detail during the early days of Psychology as a separate discipline…
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Download file to see previous pages It might be of some interest to note that that not only ‘behavior’ but also ‘learning’ was not given much importance by early day psychologists. Possibly they concluded that ‘behavior’ was something that could neither be quantified nor categorized and thus did not merit any special investigation. However, at the beginning of 20th century some psychologists felt that ‘behavior’ indeed identifies a man and makes him stand out in his interactions with fellow humans and therefore can very well be considered as an outward manifestation of an individual’s psychological constitution. Though, they did agree that it cannot quantified and thus cannot be measured or compared in absolute terms. Thus, a small band of psychologists took it upon themselves to study ‘behavior’ in intricate detail while the majority continued to stick to the earlier stance of not giving ‘behavior’ that much importance. In this paper the perspectives of Watson, Skinner and Tolman are compared and contrasted and an attempt has been made to relate their perspectives to modern day approach to psychology as a separate discipline. John B. Watson Watson is widely believed to be the father of the term ‘behaviorism’ and is credited with the introduction, or should we say, infiltration of this term in mainstream psychology. Watson also took a distinctly adamant stand in the age old nature versus nurture debate in that he believed that nurture, which is, how a person is brought up and his experiences since childhood, plays a distinct role in shaping his approach and attitude and nature has very little role to play in such formation. As a proof of his contention, he conducted the famous experiment of white rat and how fear got instilled in the psyche of Little Albert when a loud frightening sound accompanied every time the rat was shown to the child. As a further proof of his contention, in a slightly changed scenario, he showed the white rat to the child who was struck with a steel bar a little while after he observed the white rat. Thus fear acquired two connotations to Albert, one is the sight of the white rat and the other was the sound of his crying as he was struck by a steel bar. By this combined exposure to conditioned stimulus of the white rat and unconditioned stimulus of getting struck by a steel bar Albert was conditioned to be perpetually afraid of white rat. Watson reasoned that fears that are conditioned remain with a person and modify his behavior for the rest of his life (Leary, 2004). By the end of the first decade of 20th century Watson published his classical treatise Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It where he made a tersely woven logical case for behavior to be considered as an integral part of psychological analysis. He started his argument with the assumption that was never doubted or challenged by any scholar that psychology is a scientific discipline on its own merit. As psychology is a separate science it needs to be based on empirical data that could be independently verified through experiments. Facts that are observed during experiments are by definition observable and could be codified. The only publicly observable aspect of psychology is behavior and not consciousness that can neither be observed nor codified. Therefore, the most popular method at that time of studying consciousness, that is, introspection cannot be termed as a scientific ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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