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Psychology - as the Behavourist Views It?

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Essay title: Psychology - as the Behavourist Views It?

The psychological nature of our daily life is associated with the everyday ideas and choices that compel and propel us. It can be related to what makes us ‘tick inside and act outside’ and the nature of psychology is the academic study of the processes of the mind, brain and behaviour, and its application to the external and internal environment.

There are also many schools of psychology but the main concern of this essay is the Behaviourist approach to it in particular to the claim that:

"Psychology as the behaviourist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behaviour."(Watson, 1913, p.158)

As such the correlative and comparative view of this claim can be discussed to ensure whether psychology is or ought to be defined from a Behaviourist perspective.

Ever since the nature of psychology was formally defined by Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) with the first psychology laboratory built and the onset of the Structuralist thinking there has been other various thoughts or schools of psychology as well.

A particular school of interest in regards to this essay is the Behaviourist approach to psychology.

The psychology of Behaviourism emerged as a new movement in psychology in the early 20th century. This radical new school of psychology came about from influences from the likes of Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) who undertook research into “classical conditioning” (Pavlov, 1927, p.24), American psychologists including Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949), John B. Watson (1878-1958), Carl L. Hull (1884-1952), and B.F. Skinner all who sought to give ethical grounding to Behaviourism.

The concept of Behaviourism approached psychology with the emphasis that scientific study should revolve only around the observable behaviour of the subject without any allusion to the introspective nature or mental processes due to the difficulty in actually looking into mental processes as such of schools of thoughts of predecessors in regards to Watson’s claim “…it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science."(Watson, 1913, p.158)

The term “natural science” can be defined as the rational study of the precise visible and external aspects of the human environment applicable to the laws of physics and chemistry. It is also the basis of applied sciences though it differs vastly from humanity type subjects like arts and philosophy or even social sciences (even though they both use empirical methods of application for research) due to the exploration of the observable characteristics of the external as opposed to the internal. Therefore can it be said that the study of psychology is a “purely objective branch of natural science”? From the Behaviourist point of view the answer is yes because psychology should be viewed as being part of the natural science and that the study of behaviour alone should govern as the most practical way in viewing subjects in the study of psychology.

Within psychology there is the study of mental states and processes (evident through approaches such as Structuralism with the identification of mental processes as a fundamental, Functionalism’s study of the adaptive nature of mental processes, and various other schools of psychology delving into the nature of mental states and processes) and there is a definitive role the assertion of behaviour plays in the psychological study.

The definition of ‘behaviour’ is “the actions or activities of the individual as matters of psychological study” (Delbridge and Bernard, 1995, p.80).

Behaviour viewed from as external can also be categorised into instinctive, cognitive and/ or responsive of the organism in certain situations.

There is also the biological sense that ‘behaviour’ is viewed as a biological response of the neural system from an organism to exhibit a stimulus-response pattern usually in relation to stimuli provided from the environment.

Biologically “behaviour” is attributed to the endocrine and nervous system within an animal with the complexity of its nervous system contributing to the complexity of behaviour exhibited by an organism and also its capability to adapt and learn new responses.

The study of psychology attempts to describe and analyse behaviour and interaction of the mind and body but also in terms of describing the mental processing or introspective nature (as first stated through the psychology of Structuralism).

Empirical study within the Behaviourist psychology views that the only observable factors for psychological assessment

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