Behaviourist Views on Human Behaviour - Essay Example

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Understanding human behaviour has always been one of the primary goals of psychological studies. Over the last century, numerous authors repeatedly published their views on how to understand the behaviour of other people or help individuals to study their own behaviour…
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Behaviourist Views on Human Behaviour
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"Behaviourist Views on Human Behaviour"

Download file to see previous pages In the middle of 20th century behaviourism was proclaimed as the saviour of the struggling psychological science in terms of explaining human behaviour, personality, motivations, learning, etc. Yet, despite much hype this doctrine failed short of its promise as many other theories before: overwhelming attention to the external aspects of personality coupled with rejection of the inner mental processes and events did not allow behaviourism become the dominant perspective in modern psychology.
The doctrine of behaviourism in psychology rests upon the methodological proposals of John B. Watson, an American psychologist whom attempted to make the emerging psychological inquiry more 'scientific'. Behaviourism embraces hundreds of varying theories, practices, and trends that have emerged over the course of several decades. However, the underlying feature of any behaviourist theory or concept is emphasizing the outward behavioural aspects as the key to understanding the inner world of human beings. Thus, Wilfred Sellars (1963), the outstanding philosopher of the last century whom witnessed emergence development and decline of behaviourism in psychology noted "a person may qualify as a behaviourist, loosely or attitudinally speaking, if they insist on confirming hypotheses about psychological events in terms of behavioural criteria" (p.22). Behavioural evidence is the founding stone of a typically behaviourist inquiry.
The basic assumption of behaviourism is the following: since psychology is a science it must employ a set of scientific methods that allow observation and measurement. The main concern of behaviourists is establishing a direct association between two separate events. The perfect example of this linkage is "Pavlov's dog". John Watson (1878 - 1958) is considered to first formulate the principle of behaviourism in psychology (Vander Zanden, 1993).
Watson's definition of this approach was precisely practical. Psychology was announced an objective field of knowledge the aim of that was to predict and control human behaviour. Introspection and self-analysis are useless if applied to psychology and there is no difference between humans and animals. In fact, Watson neglected the concept of the conscious as such. The consciousness of human depends upon external circumstances; they exclusively determine life and behaviour of people regardless their genetic code, desires or way of thinking (Watson, 1913).
In 1913, Watson gave his famous lecture entitled Psychology as the Behaviourist Views It at Columbia University in New York. In this monumental argument Watson set forth his highly controversial psychological views. The publication of text of the lecture in the Psychological Review (1913) marked the formal beginning of behaviourism. Watson believed "the prediction and control of behaviour" were the fundamental goal of psychology. He called for a radical revising of the scope and methods of psychological research: "Psychology as the behaviourist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behaviour. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with that they lend themselves to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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