Psychology as Behaviorists view it

Psychology as Behaviorists view it
3 mn read

The article selected for analysis in Psychology as the behaviorists view it by John Broadmus Watson. The report was initially titled Behaviorism as a Behaviorist Views It and was published in 1913. The reason why I selected this author is that his work has been influential in the field of Psychology. Watson is known as the ‘father of behaviorism’ by many intellectuals as his work provides a deep insight into the workings of human behavior. In his claim about the importance of behavior studies, Watson blamed psychology’s failure on its method of focusing on the human psyche only and not on behavior. For Watson, to understand a person better, his or her behavior should be paid attention to.

In his article, Watson asserts that behaviorist psychology is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. The goal of behaviorists is to predict and control behavior. In addition to this, the author claims that the followers of the field of psychology have a misconception regarding this field, that it is solely based on studying the workings of the psyche. However, Watson asserts that it is not the case, and psychology is not purely based on the study of the mind. For Watson, understanding behavior is the fundamental aspect of psychology. In his article, Watson states,

We must frankly admit that the facts so important to us which we have been able to glean from extended work upon the sense of animals by the behavior method have contributed only in a fragmentary way to the general theory of human sense organ processes…” (D’Heurle & Tash, 2004)

The above-mentioned lines highlight the lack of behavioral study done on humans as psychologists have been in the habit of using animals to test their theories which has not contributed much to apprehending human behavior. Watson asserts that the field of psychology is still underdeveloped. Therefore, psychologists need to be careful when selecting samples for their study. Watson moves on to say that the intellectuals in the field of psychology have wasted enough time and needed to discard the notion of consciousness and focus on behavior. Furthermore, he refers to the difference between functional psychology and basic psychology and goes on to say that instead of getting a clear picture, he has only gotten confused. The author criticizes the intellectuals who are related to the field of psychology by mentioning how their works are titled as science related to behaviorism but aren’t exactly that. He cites the work published by Pillsbury and says that he had defined psychology as ‘the science of behavior.’ While it made the author happy about that work was finally being done on behaviorism, after a few pages, it became evident that Pillsbury had discarded the notions of science had the study of behaviorism and taken on the concept of consciousness. The following lines show the author’s annoyance at the way intellectuals do not follow the title in their works,

I thought now surely we will have texts based upon different lines. After a few pages, the science of behavior is dropped, and one finds the conventional treatment of sensation, perception, imagery, etc…” (D’Heurle & Tash, 2004)

The above-mentioned lines highlight the author’s assertion that psychology continues to focus on the workings of the psyche only and not on behaviorism which, according to him, is crucial to understanding humans.

In conclusion, it can be said that for John B. Watson, behaviorism plays a vital role in explaining why humans act in a certain way. However, his primary concern is that the field of psychology has been wasting away years over the study of the mind than on the study of behavior. Also, Watson asserts throughout the essay that examining humans for the study of behavior will be more beneficial than testing it on animals.

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