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Behaviorism School of Psychology, Essay Example

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Essay

The implication of behaviorism is an approach of psychology that is based on the assumption that scientific research on behavior can be achieved without consideration of the inner mental conditions of an individual. Behaviorism involves materialism that ignores the independence of the mind. Behaviorism is associated with immense importance in psychological treatments and consequently, it has been pivotal in pharmacological therapy. Behaviorism has been based on the assumptions of illusionary nature of free will and the fact that the environment plays a significant role in the determination of behavior with the influence of reinforcement as well as association (Berk, 2008). During the 20th century, the school of thought of behaviorism ran simultaneously to psychoanalysis movement in as far as psychology was concerned.

On the other hand, structuralism has its basis on the research and work of Wundt, James and other associates who believed that the main purpose of psychology is not only to describe but it is also important in analyzing and explaining the conscious experience that include the feeling and the particular sensation of an individual.  As such, the proponents of structuralism as a whole were tried to develop new ways in which the conscious experience could analyzed scientifically by breaking it into structures or components for observation and quantification. For instance, the structuralism school of thought identified the four main sensations that affect the skin, which included cold, pain, warmth and pressure. Further investigation in this process by analyzing the combined sensation brought on the skin by cold and smoothness found in the sensation of wetness (Berk, 2008). The scientific method of introspection was the main method used in this investigation.  This school of thought operated from the assumption that the scientific methods can be used to test even the underlying feeling and process that goes on in a subject of study. The compartmentalizations of the components that form the conscious feeling make it easy for the scientific and psychological study (Berk, 2008). The subjects were the subjects were further trained to not only make the observation but to also come up with the report that is an accurate depiction of the mental feelings, process and experiences. These were then studied scientifically and a trend was developed that provided that guided the way he body react to the elements that were selected (Hergenhahn, 2005).

The founders of behaviorism

Behaviorism is believed to have been founded by a psychologist from America by the name of John Watson in the year 1913. The followers of the founder had a strong conviction that the observable behavior was the source of information that could be relied upon in contrast to the inner experience. On the other hand, structuralism relied heavily on introspection. The benefits associated with the environment were considered to play a very important role in shaping the behavior of a person according behaviorism. The proponents of behaviorism were greatly concerned about the relationship of observable behavior to stimuli in as far as the environment was concerned (Watson, 1928).

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist also made a considerable contribution in influencing behaviorism movement through his study. His famous experiment that involved ringing a bell to a dog during the time of meals which made the dog to salivate was a special contribution in the advancement of behaviorism. Pavlov repeated this trend severally to a point that on ringing the bell, the dog started salivating immediately even when there was no food provided to the dog. Pavlov experiment was an indication of existence of reflex reaction could be made in to a stimulus and played a vital role in conditioning which could easily affect behavior. According to Watson and Pavlov, the behavior of human being could easily be changed through conditioning and controlling the environment in which the individual lives (Hergenhahn, 2005).
Another important contributor in the advancement of behaviorism was B. F. Skinner who was an American psychologist. Skinner wrote a book in 1948 called Walden two that advocated for the contribution of principles of conditioning in the creation of a planned society (Hergenhahn, 2005).

Pros and cons of behaviorism

One of the most significant strength that was associated with behaviorism was its tendency to focus on behavior which is prone to manipulation and observation. Observable behaviors play a very important role in behaviorism as the process of research and collection of data is made significantly easy. Consequently, behaviorism is applicable in therapy of behavioral disorders especially in children. The approach applied in behaviorism does not dwell on the past medical history of a person. This is a very important aspect because majority of the people have little knowledge about past incidences that contributed to abnormal behaviors. To the majority of people, getting out of an undesirable behavior is better as compared to exploring the facts that brought about such behavior. The use of behavioral treatment has been fruitful in certain disorders including phobias and the obsessive-compulsive disorders although their effectiveness was doubtable in the case of serious disorders including schizophrenia (Berk, 2008).

Behaviorism has not lacked criticism.  Behaviorism was found to fail in accounting for alternative approaches to learning that were devoid of positive or negative reinforcement. People are capable of behavior transformation when new information is presented to them even after establishment of different behavior under the influence of reinforcement. Behaviorism manifested the human behavior as being mechanical and also attributed to a reductionist attitude of stimulus-response behaviors (Holth, 2003).

Behaviorism therefore could not account for cognition, emotions as well as the complex process of though which are attributed to human behavior (Hergenhahn, 2005). Most of the experiments that were used to test behaviorism were conducted using animals and then inferences were made to human beings. The findings therefore could not be applicable to humans 100 percent because human beings are more complex as compared to animals. There are also some ethical questions of consideration due to the behavioral treatments applied in research while disregarding the consent of the participant and also in some cases of treatment like the Aversion Therapy that involved infliction of pain together with discomfort in attempts of changing the behavior of the participant.

References

Berk, L. E., (2008). Infants & Children: Prenatal Through Middle Childhood. Illinois: Pearson    Education, Inc.

Hergenhahn, B. R., (2005). An Introduction to the History of Psychology. Wadsworth: Cengage   Learning.

Holth, P., (2003). “Psychological Behaviorism: A Path to the Grand Reunification of Psychology & Behavior Analysis?” The Behavior Analyst Today, 4 (3): 306–309.

Watson, J., (1928). The ways of behaviorism. NY: Harper & Brothers Pub.

 

 

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