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Behaviorism vs. Cognitive Psychology Essay

Watson believed that psychology did not accomplish the goal of predicting and controlling the behavior of a person. He believed that psychology had two problems; the pursuit of consciousness as an object of study and the use of introspection as a method. Watson developed a type of psychology that he believed would address these issues, behaviorism. “Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior” this is the definition of behaviorism that John Watson expressed as his Columbia address. Behaviorism is said to limit the psychological study of behavior. Watson believes that humans had three innate emotions when they were born: fear, rage, and love. The goal would be to take one of the emotions and condition it to a stimulus in order to create a response that was not previously elicited. This was demonstrated in the “Little Albert” experiment.

Watson had a baby, Little Albert, who was not fearful of white rats. During the experiment whenever Little Albert was shown a white rat Watson would pair it with a loud noise until the baby showed fear. This experiment showed that fear can be conditioned in a person. Behaviorism tended to dominate American Psychology until approximately 1954 when cognitive psychology started. “You say you want a revolution. Well, we all want to change the world.” This quote describes the change in psychology that developed cognitive psychology during an era of social change. Experimental psychologist began seeing a change when the number of unexplained human behavior increased. Psychologist started to think that in order to understand human behavior, mental processes can no longer be ignored. Cognitive psychology was created to understand these mental processes by analyzing the way sensory information is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recover, and used in the brain. It can be explained using a computer metaphor, which means that the ideas of conceptual models played a role in the processing, storage, and retrieval of information.

Which leads to Gestalt’s psychology experience should be studied as it occurs. Experience is processed into storage in our brain and that storage is available for retrieval for later experiences. An example of this would be Gestalt’s Organizing Tendencies, organization such as grouping is learned at a young age and stored in our memory, now every time after that  experience the mind tends to organize the stimuli into groups without the person’s awareness this is happening. In conclusion, behaviorism is the prediction and control in behavior and cognitive psychology has to do with the way the brain senses, percepts, imagines, retains, recalls, problem solves, and thinks. Behaviorism and cognitive psychology both need each other to exist it is not possible for one to exist without the other. Behaviorism is human experience that is argued that experience is not directly knowable.

Scientist began to see an increase in unexplained behavior and determined that mental processes must be analyzed in order to have an accurate depiction of the experiences that should be studied as they occur. Cognitive psychology may be superior to behaviorism because it takes behaviorism to the next level. Behaviorism is the human experiences and cognitive psychology added the extra factor of analyzing the mental processes. In closing, cognitive psychology would not exist without the basic theories of behaviorism and behaviorism would have faded away quickly having so many unexplained behaviors. Cognitive psychology and behaviorism need each other to exist.

Work Cited

Benjamin, L.T. (2007). A brief history of modern psychology. Malden, MA: Wiley- Blackwell.

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