Logical Positivism

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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…
They aimed to answer questions about the nature of reinforcements and how behaviors become extinguished (O’Boyle, 271). Neobehaviorist are open to explanatory variables that may not be publicly observable, and this distinguishes them from behaviorists. Neobehaviorist accept the methods of logical positivism, which also differs from Watson’s positivist views. Positivism required that terms included within a body of research be publicly observable aspects of nature (O’Boyle, 267). Logical positivism allows the addition of theoretical terms as long as they are defined in publicly observable ways. During this time we see how historical developments, such as neobehaviorism, came to shape modern practices. According to Dr. Herdegen, there has been a back and fourth battle over the years in the study of learning. He states, we went from “more cognitive interpretations of learning mechanisms, to more behaviorally-based interpretations, back to more cognitively-based interpretations, and now on to explanations that focus more on underlying neurological mechanisms.” This illustrates the constant shifting of ideas of how learning should be studied. He also addressed one of the current trends in the field of learning. He declared the evolution of cognitive interpretations and explanations of basic mechanisms of …show more content…
They placed a dog inside of a small cage and administered a painful shock after they flashed warning lights. The dog had no chance of escaping the pain and learned there was nothing it could do to stop it. They took the same dog and placed it into another cage where they flashed warning lights expecting the dog to brace for pain; the exact opposite happened. The dog didn’t move as it had previously learned there was nothing it could do to avoid the shock (O’Boyle, 298). The researchers most likely induced depression within the dog and this brought to light the role of cognition in behavior. The study demonstrated how an organism’s state of mind could affect the perception of a stimulus and their choice to respond to it. Watson’s behaviorism would not accept these findings, as depression is not publicly observable. Although this is true, depression can be measured in observable ways such as, how many times the dog would flinch when presented with the previously conditioned

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