John Watson and Child Behaviorism

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In 1913, John Watson announced the creation of a new area in psychology — behaviorism. He believed that psychology must be an accurate and reliable science, therefore, it is necessary to study human behavior. The main element that determines the direction of the child’s mental development is environmental influence.

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To prove this point, Watson turned to studying the behavior of infants and came to the conclusion that children are capable of producing a small number of simple reactions. Watson stated that there are only three congenital forms of behavior (reaction): anger (in a situation of restricting the movements of the newborn), fear (sharp, sudden and unpleasant sounds and actions), love (manifestations of pleasure in a child caused by stroking, patting).

The parents of the infant are undoubtedly the main source the infant learns emotions from and interacts with the most. Gradually, conditional reactions are built up over these instinctive reactions, and an expanding flow of behavior arises.

The main formula for behaviorism is: Stimulus — Reaction, meaning that behavior depends primarily on external stimuli and the environment, and not on internal mental processes. In my opinion, behavior goes hand in hand with social interaction. The most important part of behaviorism is that it transfers psychology from the field of subjective interpretations to the level of objective scientific knowledge.

Watson, along with other behaviorists, also studied the risk factors that could trigger intellectual disabilities. A child’s normal mental development may be at risk due to a number of factors including critical situations, misfortunes, and distressing conditions. Children who deal with such risk factors as violence in society and parental divorce are likely to face pathological development.

Permanent poverty, a serious lack of childcare, parental psychopathology, the death of a close relative, social ills, homelessness, perinatal stress — these are the most common risk factors that make children more vulnerable to the threat of psychopathology, especially if there are no compensating advantages and opportunities.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 11). John Watson and Child Behaviorism. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 11). John Watson and Child Behaviorism.

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"John Watson and Child Behaviorism." PsychologyWriting, 11 July 2022,


PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'John Watson and Child Behaviorism'. 11 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "John Watson and Child Behaviorism." July 11, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "John Watson and Child Behaviorism." July 11, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "John Watson and Child Behaviorism." July 11, 2022.