Essay on The Relevance of Behavioral Psychology to Instructional Technology

Essay on The Relevance of Behavioral Psychology to Instructional Technology

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The Relevance of Behavioral Psychology to Instructional Technology


Behavioral Psychology Defined

John Watson wrote a paper in the Psychological Review in 1913 and defined behavioral psychology or behaviorism as

…a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response recognizes no dividing line between man and brute (Reynolds, Sinatra, & Jetton 95).

Essentially Watson’s views supported the abolition of any information in psychology that was not a result of direct observation. Furthermore, constructs such as thought, mind, emotion, and instinct were deemed useless. " He denied the existence of instinct in human beings and reduced thought to subvocal speech, emotion to bodily responses" (Alberto & Troutman 32). In summary a true behaviorist’s views can be explained by a popular metaphor used to describe the brains processes as that of "a switchboard on which connections were mechanically made and maintained" (Reynolds, Sinatra, & Jetton 95). Hence men are being described as machines, and this comparison will fuel the critics of behaviorism (Reynolds, Sinatra, & Jetton 95).

The History of Behaviorism

Behaviorism’s foundation is comprised of positivism, animal psychology, and functionalism. Positivism is defined as "valid knowledge that is objectively observational "(Alberto & Troutman 30). Further, Charles Darwin contributed to behavioral psychology with his research regarding a...


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...hnology in teaching and learning." Behavior Research Methods Instruments & Computers, 25 (2), 233-237.

Epstein, R. (1997, Fall). "Skinner as self-manager." Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 30 (3), 545-568.

Kunkel, J. H. (1996, Winter). "What have behaviorists accomplished-and what more can they do." Psychological Record , 46 (1), 21-37.

Malone, J. C. (1999, January). "Recent issues in the analysis of behavior- Skinner, B. F.." Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 71 (1), 115-120.

Reynolds, G. E., Sinatra, G. M. & Jetton, T. L. (1996, Spring). "Views of knowledge acquisition and representation-a continuum from experienced centered to mind centered." Educational Psychologist, 31 (2), 93-104.

Ritchie, D. & Baylor, A. (1997, September). "Teaching with technology-finding a workable strategy." Techtrends, 42 (4), 57-30.

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