Philosophy of Behaviorism

Topics: Classical conditioning, Behaviorism, Operant conditioning Pages: 7 (2353 words) Published: August 8, 2012
Philosophy of Behaviorism
Tammie Williams
Columbia College

For hundreds of years there has been a fascination on how humans behave and how humans learn. This has been observed and studied by psychologists, educators, and scientists by means of humans and animals and how they perform in different environments. This fascination is known as behaviorism. This aspect of behaviorism deals with how a humans or animals respond to a certain stimuli and how a new behavior is then developed. This paper will address the philosophy of behaviorism, the great contributors to behaviorism and their aspects of behavioral learning such as classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Philosophy of Behaviorism
The evolution of psychology dates back to hundreds of years ago. During the 19th century scientific ideas, scholars were not speculation anymore about the existence of a soul and started the speculation in regards to the workings of the mind instead (Leon, 2006). By the end of the 19th century, the formulation of theories regarding one’s mind and search for proof that supports these theories became the formal science psychology (Leon, 2006). The pathway to progression has not been easy. The mystery that surrounds the workings of the mind seems to be imperious to a scientific approach of any kind. The way that a brain functions isn’t something as just observing it in a laboratory. The dissection of a brain will not really teach much about it. Even with over 150 years of great progression in this field, researchers still haven’t been able to create a human brain model in which everyone can agree upon. Instead there is a competition for dominance amongst many popular models, and the understanding is difficult for supporters of models that belong to others. Students of psychology spend a great portion of their time studying all the different kinds of theories there are. While some of the theories have fallen out of popularity, some theories still remain broadly accepted. All of these theories have greatly contributed to the understanding of human behavior and thought. The knowledge of all of the theories will help someone gain a richer and deeper of understanding the past, present, and future of psychology.

Schools of Thought
There are several different schools of thought, which represent all major theories that are in psychology. An eclectic perspective on psychology is employed by most psychologists today. Instead of having an outlook that is singular they are embracing theories and ideas from different schools (Cherry, 2005). Structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism psychoanalysis, humanistic psychoanalysis, Gestalt psychology, and cognitive psychology are some schools of thought which have influenced the knowledge and the understanding of psychology (Cherry, 2005). In order to have a true belief in one the major psychology school of thoughts you must have knowledge and an understanding of each. Structuralism was the first psychology school of thought (Tsivkin, 1999). Structuralism concentrated on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components (Cherry, 2005). Edward Titchener and Wilhelm Wundt were two major structuralism thinkers. Functionalism was formed as part of a reaction to the theories of the school of thought structuralism and was greatly influenced by William James work. Harvey Carr and John Dewey were major functionalist thinkers. This school of thought explained a person’s mental process by more of an accurate and systematic manner (Polger, 2008). Instead of focusing on the consciousnesses elements, the purpose of behavior and consciousnesses is the focus of a functionalist. Behaviorism was a school of thought that became dominant during the 1950’s. It was based on the work from B.F. Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, and Jon B. Watson; they suggested that behavior is explained by causes do to the environment and not internal forces. “Behaviorism is focused on observable behavior” (Cherry,...

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