What Was Right About Behaviourism?

From: Whitman Harry (hmw494@soton.ac.uk)
Date: Mon May 27 1996 - 06:19:38 BST

The most valuable achievement realised by this discipline was to
exclude from scientific study introspectionism. John Watson, probably
the first real behaviourist typified the approach and dismissed
introspectionism for it's necessary subjectiveness:- the only valid
scientific approach to limit study to specific stimuli and consequent
observable periferal muscular and glandular responses. Thus
emphasising that which the organism does, it's observable behaviour,
not untestable introspection (mental data). This brought with it genuine,
discliplined scientific methods allowing repeatable and thus
checkable research involoving the collection of data from observed
phenomena. Behaviourism can certainly be said to be able to explain
some behaviour, of cognitively simple animals in carefully restricted
circumstances. Such successes and together with the apparantly
watertight scientific method did elevate the status and credibility of
psychology to previously unseen heights which additionally led to
successful clinical application of behaviourist principles in the
treatment of phobias. Despite much activity by those who promote
 the 'mentalistic theory' approach, (how we see yellow or feel
pain) the behaviourists are right to deny this method as essentially
flawed as untestable.Behaviourism is much maligned but has played
a fundemental role inthe establishment of psychology within the life
 sciences and has managed to be the dominant paradigm in the field
for the majority this century.

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