Inception Of Behaviourism

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The inception of behaviourism occurred in the early part of the twentieth century, it was a rallying cry against the often unproven theories, and subjective methods utilised by proponents of the introspection discipline of psychology. This new behaviourist discipline would utilise the scientific method to test its theories and record empirical evidence to support its claims.

These early behaviourists believed that behaviour could be explained by monitoring and examining how one interacts with the surrounding environment. This required the behaviourists to make several assumptions. First the human mind was to be seen as “tabula rasa”, an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge from the sum of our perceptions and experiences. Additionally
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It was from Locke 's work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” that the idea of “tabula rasa” in the psychological sense first arose. Locke sought to refute the rationalist notion of innatism, which along with nativism claimed the mind has a built psychological in structure.

A second major influence on behaviourism was the work of Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist.
Pavlov was conducting work on the digestive systems of dogs by measuring the production of saliva. Pavlov noticed that the dogs would begin to salivate when his assistant entered the room. This was because the dogs had begun to associate his entrance with being fed, however the dogs would also salivate when he entered for reasons other than feeding them.

Pavlov deduced that salivation was a reflex action which occurred as a response to the presence of food. However the dog had associated his entrance to the room with the impending arrival of food and had began to salivate in anticipation. This association was triggering a reflexive response in the dogs. Since this behaviour had not always applied to the dogs, it was a matter of logic that it was a behaviour they had
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The neutral stimulus does not produce a response before being paired with an unconditioned stimulus, as in the case of the bell with Pavlov 's dogs. Also in relation to Pavlov 's dogs, the unconditioned stimulus would be food and the unconditioned response would be salivation. Through repeated pairing of the unconditioned stimulus and the neutral stimulus, the subject learns to associate the neutral stimulus with that of the unconditioned stimulus. Once associated, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus. The conditioned stimulus can now be used without the unconditioned stimulus to create a conditioned response, for example Pavlov 's dog salivating at the ringing of the bell when no food is brought

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