Behaviorism started slowly in the United States in the early 20th century but John B. Watson brought this new way of psychology to the forefront in the world of psychology (Greenwood, 2009) with his teaching on measurable things (Dewey, 2007). Behaviorists in America in the mid-twentieth century desired to explain and regulate behaviors and even create set laws that could describe said behaviors (Dewey, 2007).
Watson (1913) states that psychology, according to behaviorists, is an objective and experimental part of science which needs little self-analysis similar to that of chemistry and physics. Watson further states that the behavior of animals can be explored without including at consciousness.
Logical Positivism/Scientific Empiricism
Positivism is the idea of maintaining to only things that are observed and experienced (Greenwood, 2009; Trochim, 2006). Those that believed in this positivist point of view rejected the earlier forms of theoretical thinking that did not involve direct observation (Trochim, 2006).
The positivists further believed that as emotions and thoughts cannot be directly observed, these were not valid areas for a scientific psychology (Trochim, 2006). What was known as the Vienna Circle, helped to push the way for a logical positivism. The logical positivists took David Hume’s claims of observations and experience and built upon them. They continued the idea of the verification principle which in its most basic form means things verified by observation (Greenwood, 2009).
The behavioral movement was both preceded and influenced the positivists. One such behaviorist that did a lot of work in pure conditioned behaviors was that of B. F. Skinner. Skinner maintained that psyc...
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Greenwood, J. D. (2009). A conceptual history of psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
Hull, Clark L. (1935). The conflicting psychologies of learning -- A way out. Psychological Review, 42, 491-516.
Laskley, K. S. (1930). Basic neural mechanisms in behavior. Psychological Review, 37, 1-24.
Tolman, E. C. (1922). A new formula for behaviorism. Psychological Review, 29, 44-53.
Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). Positivism and post-positivism. Retrieved from http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/positvsm.php
Watson, A. (2012). Why is CBT such a popular talk therapy? Retrieved from http://essex-behavioural-therapy.co.uk/article.asp?aid=125&topic=why-is-cbt-such-a-popular-talk-therapy
Weidman, N. (2012). Behaviroism – neobehaviorism (1930 – 1955). Retrieved from http://science.jrank.org/pages/8448/Behaviorism-Neobehaviorism-1930-1955.html
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