Re: Cognitivism Vs. Behaviourism

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Tue Jun 04 1996 - 16:48:43 BST

> From: "Young, Holly" <>
> Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 10:59:42 GMT
> Behaviorists study individual's behaviour rather than looking at their
> brain and nervous system. Behaviour has been defined as the activities
> of an organism which can be observed.

Behaviourists also don't use introspection, i.e., they don't try to
oberve the mind; and where does behaviour stop and brain activity start?
Isn't behaviour a brain activity?

> Cognitivists, however study the mental processes underlying behaviours.

What are mental processes?

> Modern cognitive psychology is based on these assumptions :
> a) only by studying mental processes can we fully understand what
> organisms do.
> b) studying mental processes in an objective fashion by focusing on
> specific behaviours and interpreting them in terms of underlying mental
> processes which may be responsible for eliciting that behaviour.

What does this mean? If mental processes means what we observe by
introspection, it's not likely to work; or do you mean (as you ought)
the unconscious processes underlying out capacities?

> On the other hand behaviourism does not take into consideration the
> mental processes which may be the result of the behaviour which is
> being observed.

Now I really don't know what you mean by "mental process": is it the
cause of behaviour, or the effect of it? Is it mental in the sense of
being conscious, or only in the sense of being in the head?

> Behaviourists tend to study the relationship between the relevent
> stimuli and the response that it elicits and the rewards and
> piunishments that follow these reponses i.e. conditioning.
> Cognitivism relies on an analogy between the mind and a computer.

Computationalists are not the only cognitivists.

> Cognitivism was developed in reaction to the behaviourist theory as the
> behaviourist theory was too simplistic, as the stimulus-response view
> was too simple to explain such behaviours as communication and
> language.
> There are obviously many differences between cognitivism and
> behaviorism as has been outlined above.

What about their differences about THEORY? What about reverse
engineering? Unfortunately, this just scratches the surface.

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