What brought the redefinition of psychology into sharper focus for psychologists was work in animal psychology. Because it viewed humans as having evolved from animal forms, psychologists could not exclude animals from their study, creating animal psychology as a new field of research (Leahey, 2018). As a result, psychologists began to explore the behavior of a variety of animals, ranging from protozoa to monkeys, in informal, naturalistic trials (Leahey, 2018). One of the most important factors of the behaviorism is that it allows researchers to evaluate observable behavior objectively and systematically. This approach was established after the focus in psychology shifted towards analysis of animal behavior. Behaviorism is principally responsible for the establishment of psychology as a scientific subject, due to its objective methods and, in particular, experimentation (Leahey, 2018). It has benefited from research into the impact of the environment on human behavior.
The Basic Idea Of Behaviorism
An individual can only be analyzed based on his or her observable conduct, according to behaviorism. The behaviors happen in reaction to a stimulus that either promotes or inhibits them (Leahey, 2018). Watson defines behaviorism as the science focusing on observable behavior (Leahey, 2018). For the study of humans or animals, only witnessed, recorded, and measured behaviors are considered and this approach is similar to that of Ivan Pavlov. He dismisses Sigmund Freud’s ideas of unconscious and internal mental states or representations as unobservable (Leahey, 2018). He believes that a child’s environment, rather than their genetic makeup or natural disposition, determines their behaviour.
Skinner’s approach to behaviorism involved Operant Conditioning, known as Instrumental Conditioning, which utilized the notions of reward and punishment. Punishments are provided to eradicate undesired actions, whereas reinforcement is characterized as a reward for positive and desired behaviors (Leahey, 2018). Hull wished to deepen his understanding of behavioral science’s fundamental principles in order to explain the behavior of various animal species, as well as individual and social behavior (Leahey, 2018). He believed that through adopting reinforced habits, it is possible to achieve desired outcomes (Leahey, 2018). He stated that the process is more slow and that rewards are necessary to push someone to complete a task.
Leahey, T. H. (2018). A history of psychology: From antiquity to modernity. Routledge.