Behaviourism: History, Principles & Contributions Essay

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Behaviourism: History, Principles & Contributions


Behaviourism focuses its perspective on the external environment as being the stimuli for behaviour instead of internal events such as consciousness. John B. Watson is often noted as the father of behaviourism, though its theories were being studied years before hand. A talk by Watson on his manifesto in 1913 was said to be the formal founding of behaviourism where he described the principles of behaviourism and dismissed other notions. Though behaviourism did not become a highly accepted view in psychology, it did have its contributions to the overall field.

Behaviourism emerged as a new field of psychology during the early twentieth century. It differentiated
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Watson made a famous statement saying that he could raise a child to be anything if he had full control of the environment (Hergenhahn, 2009). This powerful statement concluded that it was experience and not inheritance that makes people who they are.

The most controversial aspects of behaviourism would concern learning as well as thinking and language, which he simply deemed it both as a form of behaviour. Watson described thinking as sub vocal speech and speech or language as a type of overt behaviour. Watson explained learning by again using the context of stimuli and response explaining that the correct response will occur more frequent and hence will be the final response of learning for the individual or organism (Hergenhahn, 2009). Furthermore, Watson expressed that there were only three types of emotions: fear, rage and love. He again used his theory of stimulus and response connections, stating that these feelings were learnt through external stimuli that elicit them. Feelings and sensations were merely not important to him. Watson demonstrated this by his highly popularized and criticized experiment in conditioning fear in the little Albert experiment. According to Watson (1913), he believed that psychology has failed significantly as an experimental discipline. He concluded that psychology must discard all references to