What was wrong with Behaviourism?

From: Willoughby Sarah (SEW295@psy.soton.ac.uk)
Date: Mon May 20 1996 - 12:32:06 BST

73) What was wrong with Behaviourism?

Firstly, there is no clear boundary for what is behaviour and what is
merely the body functioning the way it should. It is generalised
into, 'what an organism does'.

The main problem with Behaviourism is that it does not attempt to
explain behaviour by formulating testable theories. Therefore it can
not explain how the mind works because it refuses to look at internal

The Behaviourist idea is just to observe outward behaviours and
predict from them alone. Their only explaination is that learning is
a product of rewards and punishments but this still does not explain
the internal processes that cause our reactions to such stimuli.
Another problem for behaviourists is trying to account for the
differences in capacity such as intelligence and the ability to learn
language. These sorts of questions can only be answered by a theory
of what is going on inside which has, in part, been explained by the
capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Behaviourists fall down over the issue of language and perception
which they claim is again, based on reward and punishment. This can
not explain how humans learn universal grammar nor how children learn
grammar when many adults speak ungrammatically. Also, they have no
explaination for why we are the only species capable of language .
Therefore, Behaviourism appears to be largely faulted by its' own
restrictive barriors.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Feb 13 2001 - 16:23:41 GMT