March 29, 2010
Throughout the years there have been many men and women who have made many advancements and contributions to the science of psychology. They have used observations, experimentations, and scientific studies to hypothesize, and prove their theories. However, some of the greatest theories and achievements in the study of psychology were obtained through experiments and studies using live animals. Three men who have made great strides in psychology were; John B. Watson, B. F. Skinner, and Edward C. Tolman. Although they were not in the forefront at the beginning of the study of psychology, their theories and new fields in psychology allowed the advancements that contributed to the growth of the science. John B. Watson - Perspectives
“According to Watson, psychology is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. It’s theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. It has been maintained that psychology is a study of the science of the phenomena of consciousness” (Watson, 1914, p. 1). Watson rejected Freud’s beliefs of psychology because he thought that there was not any scientific basis to them. Because Watson was a true scientist, I believe that he thought Freud’s data was subjective and that the observations made could be easily manipulated. “His view of behaviorism was a reaction to introspection, where each researcher served as his or her own research subject, and the study of consciousness by Freud and others, which Watson believed to be highly subjective and unscientific” (John B. Watson (1878-1958) – Popularizing Behaviorism, The Little Albert Study, The “Dozen Healthy Infants”, Life after the University,” n.d., p. 2543). He believed that controlled laboratory studies would be the most effective way to study learning. “Watson not only eliminated the study of motivation, mental processes and emotions from behavioral psychology, he focused instead on the study of observable, measurable behavior” (2009, para. 6). Although Watson wrote several books on behavior and child rearing, he left behind the scientific aspect of psychology and used his knowledge of human behavior to run a very successful advertising agency. Watson’s theories are still in practice today, for instance if a person is afraid of a clown, the therapist will try behavior modification and expose him or her to pictures of clowns, clown paraphanelia, and eventually exposure to a clown to overcome the fear. B. F. Skinner - Perspective
Skinner was intrigued by Watson’s behaviorism theory. Although Watson founded the Behaviorist theory, Skinner was responsible for bringing it to the forefront. One of his studies in particular would be the basis for his branch of behaviorism. The (2002) website, “During his years at Harvard, he built a device capable of precisely measuring and recording the number of times a rat pressed a bar to receive a food pellet. This box, along with the attached recording equipment, provided a way to collect more objective data about behavior than scientists had been able to gather before. The device came to be known as the "Skinner box" (B.F. Skinner and behaviorism, para. 10). His experiment is reminiscent of the way that Pavlov used stimuli and response with his dogs. Skinner modified the basic premises of behaviorism to fit into what he had discovered during his experimentation. The specific behaviors were called “operant conditioning.” Whereas conditioning is the learning and operant is Skinner’s idea that any organism operates its own environment. Skinner believed that if a behavior is reinforced, either positively or negatively, the behavior will be repeated. He also believed that positive reinforcement was much more effective than negative reinforcement or punishment. However, Skinner was not without his criticisms and...
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