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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - Watson and Skinner

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Western University
Psychology 3950F/G
Mark Cole

Lecture 8: The Exorcism of the Ghost in the Machine and Behaviourism Background  Darwin‟s theory opened the way for a “mindless” account of behaviour  The concept of mind still not gone until 1920  Dewey‟s The Reflex Arc was the cornerstone o Influential to a lot of people o How stimuli elicit responses automatically – no need for mediating thinking/cognition o Laid the basic idea open to a stimulus response psychology – looking at the importance of the stimulus and how it elicits a response o One of the first person to take on this task serious was Watson John Broadus Watson  Watson (1878-1958) born near Greenville, South Carolina  Entered Furman University at 16 and studied Latin, Greek, Mathematics, and Psychology  M.A. at age 22  Graduate studies at the University of Chicago in 1901 with Dewey in Philosophy  Later influenced by James R. Angell and switched to Psychology  Jacques Loeb introduced him to mechanism  Ph. D. (1903)  Following an assistantship under Angell he was appointed instructor  Married Mary Ickes (1903)  Baldwin offered him a full professorship at Johns Hopkins University (1908)  After Baldwin left, Watson became Chair of psychology and editor of Psychological Review  Later forced to resign over affair with Rosalie Raynor  He worked for the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency and William Esty and Company  Published Behaviourism (1925) Watson‟s Ideas Instinct  Instincts were actually learned habits o Although, states that children may have an innate fear of loud noises and being confined (swaddled)  Looked for evidence of instincts in young children o Studied the grasp reflex of infants o Grasp reflex data show no evidence of handedness in infants o Also found equal amount of left and right hand movements in infants o Concluded handedness was not innate but learned from parents Emotion  Argues with one aspect of James‟ theory of emotion o James: our perceptions lead to bodily changes, those changes lead to emotions o To Watson the emotion WAS the visceral reaction, not a mental response to it  Assumed emotions were learned and not innate o E.g., he showed that infants showed no fear of black cats, rabbits, rats, Airedales, pigeons, small newspaper bonfires, frogs, turtles, snakes, or water  But he found fear, rage, and love to be present at a very young age o E.g., fear (crying) to loud noises or sudden loss of support o E.g., rage (body stiffening, slashing movements of hands, and breath holding) to restraint o E.g., love (smiling, gurgling, and cooing) to stroking, tickling, rocking, and patting  Saw these emotions as UCRs that easily conditioned to any number of CSs  However, he found that children were afraid of loud noises  Watson and Raynor did famous experiment with 11-month-old Albert o Conditioned a fear response in a white rat o CS: loud noise, CR: white rats and other similar (furry) objects o Concluded all adults fears were CRs o Paved the way for behaviour therapy treatments of phobias Thinking  What separated humans from animals  Viewing language as a verbal habit reinforced by parents – entirely learned  Speech is a chain in which the pronunciation of each word becomes the stimulus for the next word in the chain  Thinking is silent speech (this statement got him into a lot of trouble) o E.g., young children talk out loud to themselves during solitary play o It is only adult censure forces this talk “inside” o Censure event extends to lip movements make while reading o Deaf and dumb individuals show finger and hand movements while thinking – also censured o Thus, speech driven “inside”  But, how then can thinking be measured? A problem for a behaviourism  Some thinking is non-verbal  But most involves language Watson on Child Rearing  Psychological Care of Infant and Child (1929) was a behaviourist‟s Dr. Spock o Aimed at parents – raising a happy, health child that contributes to society o Tries to educate parents in Behaviourism  Points out that fears are almost all learned and recounts the case of Albert  Blames parents for the development of fears  As a “cure” he mentions the work of Mary Cover Jones who treated a child with a white rabbit phobia by pairing the rabbit with food so fear was never generated  He warns parents not to cuddle their children too much – the danger of „mother love‟ o Because excessive conditioned love responses interfere with more-productive behaviour o Treat children like they are young adults  Seems to be advocating a Platonic return to reason over spirit and appetite o Was he thinking of Plato when he wrote The Behaviourist’s Apologia? Burris Fredrick Skinner  Burris Fredrick Skinner (1904-1990) born in Susquehanna, PA  Studied liberal arts at Hamilton College in New York  His degree was in English, not Psychology  Briefly tried writing  Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard  Then a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard  Taught at Minnesota from 1936-1945 and at Indiana University from 1945-1947  Returned to Harvard where he remained until his death Skinner‟s Ideas On Mind  A radical behaviourist who succeeded Watson as Mr. Behaviourism  Positivism  If the soul controls the body then what controls the soul?  Consciousness is itself a type of behaviour, not some non-behavioral force o I.e
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