History Of Psychology A Cultural Perspective

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Cherie O’Boyle’s book, History of Psychology: A Cultural Perspective, has offered many interesting insights in to the field of psychology. The subfield of the discipline that sparks my curiosity the most has been Behaviorism. We were tasked as a class to interview Psychologist that worked in a field we may be interested in, and I chose to interview Dr. Robert Herdegen. Dr. Herdegen is a professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, Va. He specializes in general experimental psychology, with a focus on the basic processes of learning and motivation. In his interview he stated that he has been most influenced by the works and teachings of Martin Seligman, whose research resembles the methodology of neobehaviorist. Neobehaviorism arose after …show more content…
Watson denied the existence of consciousness and believed it was the result of physiological functioning (O’Boyle, 228). O’Boyle states that at this point in the history of psychology, dualism or the mind-body problem diminishes as behaviorist rejected the immaterial mind. In his article, Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It, Watson confronted the notion of introspection that was made popular by Edward Titchner. He states introspection forms no essential part to the theoretical goal of behaviorism (Watson 1913). He believes that the introspective method had reached a “cul-de-sac”, or in modern terms, a dead end. This statement is illustrated in the works of early physiologist and comparative psychologist. A few of them eliminated the mind from explaining behavior by limiting its description to the functioning of the cortex, or the result of a stimulus causing a response. Watson then refers to it as threadbare, and says the method should be put away for a later time. Watson concluded that psychology should make behavior, not consciousness, the objective of the field due to the enormous amount of interest in controlling behavior (1913). Removing the states of consciousness from psychology by Watson was thought to eradicate a barrier between psychology and other natural sciences. Watson admits he possess weak arguments in his article to be picked apart …show more content…
One of Watson’s famous theories is the stimulus-response theory. Watson assumed that learned associations cause behavior, and that learning was the only psychological process (O’Boyle, 229). Watson believed that the cause of behavior should be as observable as the outcome. In this case behavior cannot be caused by mental events such as motivation, desire, and will. After reading the research of Ivan Pavlov, Watson became convinced that it was the conditioned reflex that caused behavior. The reflex is a response to environmental stimuli, which is then associated with a pleasant or unpleasant outcome. These determine the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. When the environmental stimulus becomes associated with an observable response we get Watson’s formula to the physiological cause of behavior. Watson asserted learning is the basis of all behavior and it is established on the spread of cortical activation in response to sensory stimulation (O’Boyle, 232). Shortly after Watson, a subfield of behaviorism had risen. It encompassed all aspects of behaviorism, but added theoretical concepts such as the mind back into the

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