Psyc85h3- Chapter 9: Behaviourism
Behaviorism is one of the most dominant approaches to psychology.- in the states
Behaviorists: john b. Watson and b.f. skinner both argued that behaviour should be explained
without recourse to either introspection of physiology
But Ivan Pavlov and Karl Lashley believed that physiology and psychology we complementary
Although behaviorists differed from one another in many ways, what they all had in common is
just that their name suggests; they regarded behavior as the only proper subject for psychology
and rejected subjective experience
Animal behavior is something that the psychologist can only observe and comparative
psychology implicitly promoted the objective observation of behaviour
Was awarded a nobel prize in 1904 for his work on the physiology of the digestive system.
Became famous for his so called conditioned reflexes
Like thorndike, conducted research on animals
The doctrine of conditioned reflexes was one of the foundations of materialism in biology
Materialism is the doctrine that physical events constitute the only reality
Pavlov was never one to fully believe in the simple minded materialism
Pavlov thought of himself as a physiologist not a psychologist
Mental life should be understood entirely in physiological terms and that the reflex was the
appropriate unit of explanation
Pavlov made distinctions b/w unconditioned reflexes and conditioned reflexes
A reflex is unconditioned if the same response always occurs in the presence f the same
stimulus. Food is an unconditioned stimulus and salivation is an unconditioned response to the
food. Thus conditioned means that the connection is unconditional.
The reflex of defense is the animals spontaneous reaction to anything that threatens it; the
reflex of freedom occurs when the animal is confined and attempts to escape; the reflex of
purpose is observed when the animal attempts to attain something of value to it.
Conditioned reflexes are conditional in the sense that they occur only under certain conditions.
3 important facts about conditioning
o A conditioned response is usually smaller in magnitude than an unconditioned one
o If a conditioned reflex have been formed and then the conditioned stimulus is
repeatedly presented by itself, in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus, then the
conditioned response will eventually cease.- this is called extinction
o Suppose that a conditioned response have been extinguished and the animal has been
returned to its home cage. If the animal is then brought back to the experimental situation after rest, the previously extinguished conditioned response may return.- this
is called spontaneous recovery
Pavlov’s experiments rested in the way that his findings could apparently be generalized from
the laboratory to situations outside the laboratory.
Unconditioned reflexes are not by themselves sufficient to ensure the survival of the organism
There are signals that guide the animal to an unconditioned stimulus, as long as they are reliable
the animal continues to respond to them.
However the environment is always changing and that is why adaptability is crucial to the
survival of the animal.
Spontaneous recovery provides the organism with the opportunity to check out a signal that
may have become reliable again
Pavlov uses the analogy of a central telephone switchboard to explain the conditioning process
Higher order conditioning occurs when a second conditioned stimulus is paired with a
conditioned stimulus that has already been established
The primary signaling system consists largely of sensory stimuli, such as the tone
Secondary signaling system plays a crucial role, because it consists largely of words, words as
Temperaments and Psychopathology
Pavlov believed that the fundamental cortical processes were excitation and inhibition
Excitatory group, which is easily conditioned
Inhibitory group, which is difficult to condition
Pavlov drew is work from Hippocrates and his work on the four temperaments; choleric,
sanguine, phlegmatic and melancholic
Choleric being extremely excitatory and melancholic to the extremely with sanguine and
phlegmatic in between.
The excitatory and inhibitory imbalance of the extreme temperaments is associated with
pathology, in contrast to the relative equilibrium of the middle temperaments.
Choleric is passionate and easily and quickly irritated
Melancholic believes in nothing, hopes for nothing, in everything he sees only the dark side
The sanguine and phlegmatic types stand in the golden middle, well equilibrated and therefore
healthy and stable.
Vivisection and Anti Vivisection
Vivisection is for the dissection of animals and anti-vivisection is against the dissection of
animals Pavlov thought that these sacrifices were needed to be made because there was no other way
to figure out how the nervous system worked.
Vladimir M. Bekhterev
Attempted to explain all behaviour from the individual to the social in terms of the reflex
Regarded the individual as a system of energy transformation and exchange, in much the same
way as did Freud.
Although is method was more objective than Freud’s.
Bekhterev believed that the basic laws of physical science could be applied to explain behaviour
at all levels, from the individual to the social
Although bekhterev was no famous for his ambitious work he is considered to be the first
responsible for the interest in conditioning shown in the early 20 century psychologists
Developed a technique called associated motor reflex in both dogs and humans, the technique
involved applying electrical shock to for ex. A person’s finger and resting it on a metal surface,
the response was withdrawal of the finger upon being shocked. This response could come to be
elicited by a signal that preceded the shock and it was called association reflex .
His wrok was used in j.b watson’s work
Animal welfare is consistent with the judeo-christian tradition which was always maintained
that although people are of greater value than animals people have a responsibility to promote
the welfare of animals.
However it is ethical to use animals in research if it will help people in the long run
Animal rights activists adopted a different view point, in which human lives are not superior to
Ideas of Jacques loeb was very influential to Watson work
For loeb, functional relations in psychology describe the dependence of behaviour on particular