Julia M. Whitmore
University of Phoenix
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.
The three different psychologists discussed in this essay were alike and very different in multiple ways. Watson, Skinner and Tolman all practiced psychology with a behaviorist point of view, and were all thinking along the same lines when it came down to the fundamental reasons as to which we, as people, act and think the way we do. The only differences between them were the small details involved (Wikipedia, 2010).
As far as John Watson is concerned, his beliefs all revolve around the classical behaviorist’s thinking. He had the understanding that some sort of connection exists between response and the environment. McIntyre believes that, “Prominent researchers identified with this orientation noted that an even that formally did not elicit a behavior (known as a neutral stimulus) can be made to do so by pairing (presenting) it with an unconditioned (already present) stimulus. This newly effective stimulus (and the responses to it) are said to be ‘conditioned’ (trained)”. This goes right along with the thinking of Watson.
The theories of John Watson are still in practice at this day in age by contemporary psychologists; they are still relevant. If there is a patient that has been having a hard time with specific behaviors, there are quite a few psychologists that will attempt to fix the issue with behavior modification. As one example, Sam has a fear of flying in airplanes, even though she has never been in one. Sam wants to resolve this issue so she takes herself to a psychologist to fix this problem. The first step for the psychologist would be to give Sam just a little bit of exposure to an airplane with some pictures of the aircrafts. Once Sam is comfortable with this step in the process, her doctor will then move onto the next stage, which is more exposure. During this step, Sam’s psychologist will put her into a virtual flight where she is not actually in an aircraft, but is feeling the same sensations as a person would on an actual flight. The psychologist will continue onto the next step as soon as it seems that Sam is at ease with the situation. The third part of the process involves taking Sam to the actual airport, but not putting her on a plane; this way Sam can see the airliner up close and personal. Fourth comes the actual aircraft. In this stage, Sam will step foot on the plane while it is still grounded. Finally, after all of the previous steps have been completed and all is still well, she will be able to go on a real flight! Watson thought this process of gradually introducing the patient to his/her fear(s) would be a good way to desensitize them, therefore making them unafraid.
Skinner, on the other hand had a slightly changed approach from that of Watson. B.F. Skinner believed that all behaviors are a direct result of consequence, whether negative or positive. McIntyre says, “He rejected the idea of inner causes for behavior, and placed emphasis on observable behavior as opposed to the theorizing, based on unverifiable evidence, often done by others” (Mclntyre ,2003). It was Skinner’s thinking that the coming back of a specific behavior or action was based simply and exclusively on the actual consequence that was given at the point in time in which the actual behavior was existing. He also thought that a schedule of reinforcement could either do something to excel or hold back the development of the behavior that is being done. If, every time a certain behavior is...