From Determinism to Cognitive Theory

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From Deterministic Behaviorism to Cognitive Theory: An Evolutionary Trail Alesia G. McDaniel
University of the Rockies

The Behaviorist theory, introduced by Pavlov and popularized by Watson and Skinner is discussed based on its roots in the philosophy of determinism which maintains that all behavior is the result of a specific cause. The theory of evolution and the consequential nature-nurture debate following contributes to the search for the meaning of behavior. A relationship to present day behaviorism theory and the rise of cognitive behavioral theory with its branches of cognitive behavior therapy and neuroscience will be explored. An analysis of the similarities and differences between the two constructs in the field of psychology, leads to a discussion of how these theories are used in current psychological practice. Keywords: Determinism, Behaviorism, Cognitive Theory, Cognitive Behavioral Psychology

From Determinism to Cognitive Theory: An Evolutionary Trail
The history of psychology is informative. It began 100 years ago with an introspective search for mind (Skinner, 1990) that came from philosophy and metaphysics. A philosophical principle called determinism appears to serve as a root for what later became behaviorism. This paper will outline an evolutionary trail. Beginning at the sea of determinism and crossing the plains of evolution, through the jungle of experimental psychology to find the path leading to the oasis of explanation of behaviorism where after a short rest, the trail winds around the curve of cognitive theory ending at a fork in the road. At this point, one path leads to current cognitive therapy practice and the other to current applications of behaviorism. The Sea of Determinism

Determinism emerges as the explanation of a principle of physics called cause and effect which asserts that all behavior is the result of some cause (Bargh, 2000). Causation comes as a direct result of purpose or reason. No...
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