VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 28 POSTED ON: 3/13/2012
Behaviorism Outline • Definition • Brief history • Determinism • Pragmatism • Anti-Mentalism What is behaviorism? • Central idea: A science of behavior is possible • How about Psychology? – Many reject Psychology as a science at all – Others consider its subject matter to be something other than behavior • Behaviorists call the science of behavior – Behavior Analysis What is behaviorism • There is a debate to whether Behavior Analysis is part of Psychology, the same as Psychology or separate from Psychology (Behaviorology) • Professional Organizations and journals define the discipline • Behaviorism is the set of ideas about this science – not the science itself What is behaviorism • Behaviorism offers an alternative view that runs against traditional thinking about behavior • Why? – Because traditional thinking is unscientific Rise of Behaviorism • Last half of 19th century, Psychology was defined as the “science of the mind” • Introspection was the method adopted • Some Psychologists found this method to be unreliable (1800-1900) – Donders (reaction times), Fechner (noticeable difference), Ebbinghaus (learning and memory), Pavlov (reflex) Rise of Behaviorism • Development of comparative psychology based on continuity of species • Lots of studies done with mazes and lots of inferences about animals’ state of mind • John Watson considered these inferences to be worst than introspection in terms of subjectivity. Rise of Behaviorism • 1913 – “Psychology as a behaviorist views it” by J.B. Watson “absurd to construct the conscious content of the animal whose behavior we have been studying” (p.159) • Psychology was defined as the study of consciousness Methodological Behaviorism • Watson’s version – No reference to mind or conciousness – No introspection – Only observable behavior • Important legacy – That we can have an objective science of behavior – Behavior can be dealt with scientifically = rule out mysterious factors – Just like Darwin challenge the notion of God, Watson challenged the notion of Free Will (mind) Determinism • Behavior is orderly, can be explained, predicted and controlled • Traditionally, responsibility is given to the individual rather than genes and environment – Notion that people have the freedom to choose their actions – Free will implies a third element controlling behavior • Free will is an experience and not a causal factor • Libertarian free will (from Judeo-Christian theology) conflicts with behaviorism Determinism • According to Baum (1989) “free will is simply a name for ignorance of the determinants of behavior. The more we know of the reasons behind a person’s actions, the less likely we are to attribute them to free will.” • Ex., stealing cars Pragmatism • Realism: Things I see are really there – real world is external and experiences are internal. • We can discover/explain how this world operates. • We, however, only have contact with what our senses tell us – we use sense data to infer about the world. Pragmatism • Science should not emphasize discovering the truth, but making sense of our experiences – – Rain falls not because of a mysterious god… • What does knowledge allow us to do? What is the practical implication of certain notions? Ex, is there a real world out there? Pragmatism • An idea is truer than another if it allow us to better understand, predict and control our experience • No theory is an absolute transcript of reality (James) • The theory’s usefulness is the key Pragmatism • Methodological behaviorists are realists – the objective sense data gathered and agreed upon reflects the “real” world • While radical (modern) behaviorists are pragmatists – Describe behavior in a useful economical way – we use invented terms that helps us make sense of our experiences. Describe functional relationships present in our universe. Mentalism • A type of dualism that leads to circular explanations • Influenced by Renee Descartes • Public X Private events – Thoughts, feelings, sensations?? • For a radical behaviorist, this distinction is insignificant • New technologies are turning public what used to be private (MRI) Mentalism • Behavior is a natural event - must be located in time and space • Mind is not a natural event, some processes consisting of what is typically referred to as the mind may be natural events • Dangerous because it invokes explanatory fictions Mentalism • Mental causes obstruct inquiry – “the devil made me do it” • Mental causes are not parsimonious/economical • inference about a cause based on the effect (eat vegetables <-> vegetarian) • Behavior analysis excludes terms such as mind, intelligence, reason and belief as explanations for behavior Radical Behaviorism • However, Skinner includes the study of private events as well as covert behavior in a science of behavior • Thinking and feeling are behaviors just like walking • Natural events that whose functional relations with the environment can be explain • The fact that they cannot be observed by two separate observers is not a problem since the “truth” of a phenomenon is not achieved by agreement but by usefulness. Influences • Bacon (1561-1626) – Experimentation rather than comtemplation – New Atlantis • Darwin (1809-1882) – Selectionism • Sechenov (1829-1905) – All aspects of the mind were reflexes Influences • Mach (1836-1916) – Economy in science – Practical concern – Explanation as description of functional relations – Theories are dangerous • Thorndike (1875-1949) – Not clear Influences • Pavlov (1849-1936) – Rigor of experimental control – Attempt to conceptualize behavior of whole organism • Watson (1878-1958) – Skinner read about Watson through Russell’s work Influences • Russell (1872-1970) – Materialism/behaviorism • Loeb (1859-1924) – Study the behavior of invertebrates – Rejected inferences of mental functions for kineses and taxes – Was Crozier’s teacher Influences • Skinner (1904-1990) – Behavior of Organisms in 1938 – Walden Two in 1948 • Fred Keller and Nat Schoenfeld – Principles of Psychology (1950) Influences • Skinner – Science and Human Behavior in 1953 • Basic concepts, application to individual, groups, controlling agencies and design of a culture – Schedules of Reinforcement in 1957 • Methods developed – Verbal Behavior in 1957 Influences • JEAB – 1958 • Books between 58-68 • JABA -1968 • ABA - 1974 Summary • Behavior analysts are: – Determinists – Pragmatists – Monists or anti-mentalists • As a science, behavior analysis aims at understanding functional relations between environmental variables and behavior, so we can better predict and control human actions PSYC 281 • In this class you will learn about the process of scientific discovery – Read about attempts to identify functional relations and ways of explaining them. • This knowledge serves as the basis for creating behavior modification techniques, (currently referred to as ABA).
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