Behaviorism : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread

I'm in the process of doing an extensive research paper for my Honors English class. Part of the assignment is to find an expert on the topic of our choice. My thesis is that John B. Watson made a major contribution to the field of psychology when he introduced behaviorism. The objective is to have at least twenty questions answered about my thesis. One of my questions is: Can emotions be initiated from stimuli? Is it true that actions can be predicted or controlled? What are some of the behaviors of humans that can be controlled by conditioning? Can similar stimuli produce similar reactions? How is personality related to Watson's beliefs? These are some of the basic questions that I have. If anyone is interested in helping me further, please respond as soon as possible. Thanks!

-- Kathleen Flannery (, April 13, 2004


Hi Kathleen, I must say you have a lot of questions indeed ;-) Let's see if I can help.

You should search google (or this site) for more information about the following topics: Skinner, extinction (curve), reinforcement schedules, negative reinforcer, differentiation, little Albert (Watson).

With this info on hand you should be able to answer your questions.

Regards, blueprint

-- blueprint (, April 15, 2004.

Hi, Kathleen. Last year I wrote an introductory essay concerning the rise of behaviorism in America. The paper is spanish, so if you read that language I would be happy to send you a copy of it. If not, I strongly suggest you to pay a visit to Robert Wozniak homepage, which has plenty of material concerning Watson's works:

-- Ricardo Marcos Pautassi (, April 15, 2004.

Hi Kathleen, I also think Watson made a significant contribution to psychology (particularly in championing a highly objective approach with emphasis on observable behavior, conditioning, and environmental stimuli. You might also might want to discuss some of his possibly negative influences on the development of psychology. Particularly his insufficent attention to evolutionary constraints on conditioning and his philosophical objection to most intrapsychic models and most methods of measuring mental phenomena (e.g., emotion, motivation, and cognition). His psychology is also at odds with many theories and techniques in the field of personality. However, a case might be made for his overall benefit to psychology if you think psychology has often profited by a dilectic of issues like instinct/learning, mental/behavioral, or emotion/intellect. Modern psychology is a synthesis of these sometimes seemingly contradictory or incompatible positions. I would answer question 1 - yes (internal or external), 2 - to some degree, 3 - many behaviors, emotions and thoughts, 4 - yes, temperament or personality may influence what is experienced and learned, which Watson probably realized, but may have underestimated. Hope this helps. Paul

-- Paul (, April 15, 2004.

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