Origins of Behaviorism Essay

Pages: 4 (1475 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Psychology

In particular, the fact that they obviously satisfy the demands of positivism seems to bear out the belief that behaviourism was never anything but a sort of psychological positivism." (Aach, 1987)

Behaviourism and psychology

The field of psychology is driven by the elimination of behaviour. As the field expands and theories compete and fill journal pages with "the most likely to receive grant funding," no changes are on the horizon. In fact, the evidence-based movement utilizes behaviourism in the majority of its practices. Simplistic, quick fixes flood the market. Policies are written to ensure scientific empiricism.

Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
for $19.77
While psychology embraces 100-year-old assumptions and methodology, patients are unfortunately reduced to objects. Instead of creating pluralistic, complex views of children, behaviourist psychology provides simplistic behaviour management and reduces children to symptoms. This act is fuelled by a 100-year-old desire to reduce the complexities of human behaviour and life changes into a manageable variable. Psychology needs to re-examine old presuppositions that shaped the field. As Montuori (2005a) writes, there is a "perceived need for clear, decisive, unambiguous and simple solutions as a form of anxiety alleviation and complexity reduction" (p. 8). Psychology needs to model more appropriate coping strategies; instead of avoiding difficult topics, the field needs to embrace and explore the unknown. As psychologists advise their clients to examine anxiety and its source, psychology needs to stay with the fear and examine its anxiety around topics that are unanswerable. Psychology could benefit as it embraced the unpleasantness and complexity of childhood and expanded it interventions. The field has been operating with simple behavioural solutions for a century; it is time to re-examine the definitions of childhood and the goal of child psychology.

Essay on Origins of Behaviorism Behaviorism, Its Assignment

Many critiques have focused on the methodology of behaviourism, but what if the true problem lies in the inception? The initial hypothesis created the problem. Psychology was a young discipline, they were eager to follow in the footsteps of the industrial revolution and the science craze sweeping the land. The discipline of physics served as a role model. Unfortunately, psychology had insufficient evidence to support their hypothesis. In an effort to look like physics, they favoured method over understanding. They prematurely linked animal and child behaviour. The method of behaviourism does have its flaws but the original assumption is even more problematic. Children were misunderstood, they were reduced to animals. Remember G.S. Hall who opened the first laboratory, founded the first journal, and created the APA? He wrote:

"Their experience so small, they have so little control of their attention, and their minds are so permeated with error and ignorance, that it is scarcely too much to say that almost up to puberty they can hardly think at all in any proper sense…Children comprehend much and very rapidly if we can only refrain from explaining…They take pleasure in obliging and imitating those they like…He is not depraved but only in a savage or half- animal stage…Just about the only duty of young children is implicit obedience, so the chief mental training from about eight to twelve is arbitrary memorization, drill, habituation, with only limited appeal to their understanding." (Hall, 1904)

At the turn of the century, scientists could not define childhood. They therefore focused on what they could measure, behaviour. Psychology was not about discovery; it was about control and measurement. The original hypothesis was that children needed to be and should be controlled. The cart was put before the horse. "At the time of its inception, psychology was unique in the extent to which its institutionalization preceded its content and its method preceded its problems" (Koch, 1959). Even today, as psychology becomes dominated by the field of neuroscience, we still are unable to understand the perceptions of the child. Scientists can see which parts of the brain light up, they can also see how many genetic markers a child has for aggression, but is the discipline any closer to knowing the experience of a child?


Aach, J.D. (1987). Behaviourism and normativity: The prospect of a Skinnerian psychologism (Watson, Husserl, Carnap, Skinner). Retrieved from ProQuest Digital Dissertations. (AAT 8624046)

Mackenzie, B.D. (1977). Behaviourism and the limits of scientific method. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press.

Robinson, D.N. (1995). An intellectual history of psychology (3rd Ed.). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

Smith, L.D. (1986). Behaviourism and logical positivism; A reassessment of the alliance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Watson, J.B. (1913/1988). Psychology as the behaviourist… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

Two Ordering Options:

Which Option Should I Choose?
1.  Buy full paper (4 pages)Download Microsoft Word File

Download the perfectly formatted MS Word file!

- or -

2.  Write a NEW paper for me!✍🏻

We'll follow your exact instructions!
Chat with the writer 24/7.

Philosophy for Psychology Provide a Philosophical Analysis of Behaviourism an Identifiable School Term Paper

History and Current Applications of Behaviorism Research Paper

Perceptions of US Term Paper

Family of Origin Term Paper

Post-Modern to Contemporary Psychology Research Paper

View 200+ other related papers  >>

How to Cite "Origins of Behaviorism" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Origins of Behaviorism.  (2011, April 21).  Retrieved May 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Origins of Behaviorism."  21 April 2011.  Web.  29 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Origins of Behaviorism."  April 21, 2011.  Accessed May 29, 2020.