Comparison Between the Perspectives of Watson, Skinner and

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Psychological perspectives have changed as the field of psychology has progressed. There are a few perspectives that have core values that have remained steadfast even in today's pool of theories. John Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward Tolman, all had theories that remain the foundation for many schools of thought in psychology today. This paper will compare and contrast these theories.

John B. Watson

John Watson was born in 1878 and at the age of 16, went to college. He attained a Masters degree at the age of 21, from where he went on to be a school principal. His job lasted a year and then he moved on to attend school once more at the University of Chicago. There he studied philosophy under John Dewey. He was not satisfied with Dewey's teachings so "he sought out a different advisor and settled on functionalist psychologist James Rowland Angell and physiologist Henry Donaldson" (Wikipedia, 2007).

Taking what he learned from Angell and Donaldson, Watson began forming his own theories about behavior, eventually known as "behaviorism". John B. Watson was soon to become known as the founder of the school of behaviorism in psychology.

According to Wikipedia, "Behaviorism (also called learning perspective) is a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things which organisms do- including acting, thinking and feeling- can and should be regarded as behaviors." Watson's theory was considered classical behaviorism otherwise known as classical conditioning. Watson's view on behavior was that it was purely elicited. He believed that people did not experience emotions, that they were a response to some other stimuli. Watson's goal for classical behaviorism was to create a more objective science John Watson's most famous experiment was that of little Albert. Albert was a small child who was brought to work every day by his parent, a laboratory worker. Everyday Albert would play with the lab rats to keep himself occupied. Watson viewed Albert's activity with the rat as a stimulus. Albert was given the rat (stimuli) which elicited the play behavior. In the experiment, Albert was given the rat to play with, only now the sound of a hammer hitting a metal bar was introduced when the play behavior began. After seven presentations of the rat and the loud sound that scared Albert, a new response was noticed, crying, whenever the rat was introduced back to Albert (Watson & Rayner, 1920). "This fear response "generalized" to a new stimuli: Albert also showed fear (CR) when things (CS) similar to the fuzzy lab rat were presented (e.g., men with beards, dogs, fur coats, Santa Claus masks)" (Mclntyre, 2003).

John Watson was an innovator as well as the father of the school of behaviorism. His work in classical conditioning continues on today in both psychology and in the zoological society.

B.F. Skinner

B.F. Skinner, born in 1904, attended college at the Hamilton College in New York. He received a degree in English Literature in 1926 with the intention of becoming a writer. After a year of unsuccessful writing, "he chanced upon a copy of Bertrand Russell's recently published book An Outline of Philosophy, in which Russell discussed the behaviorist philosophy of psychologist John B. Watson" (Wikipedia, 2007). After reading the book Skinner decided to seek admission to Harvard University as a psychology student.

Even as a student at Harvard, Skinner became a forward thinker. "While a graduate student, he invented the operant conditioning chamber and cumulative recorder, developed the rate of response as a critical dependent variable in psychological research, and developed a powerful, inductive, data-driven method of experimental research" (Wikipedia, 2007). After attaining his Ph.D. in psychology in 1931, Skinner went on to create his own school of thought known as Radical Behaviorism.

Skinner's theory suggests that behaviors are a result of the environment, that the behavior exhibited causes...
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