Today modern psychology consists of many ideas of science and psychology of the past. Several psychologists have come together to share their perspectives and related ideas for the advancement of psychology. One major influence in early psychology is behaviorism and John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward C. Tolman are considered contributors to behaviorisms. These are distinguished psychologists who have different perspectives on conditioning and behaviorism and how their different practices can be used to treat patients dealing with different issues. This paper will elaborate on their perspectives and contributions and show comparison and contrast in psychology today.
Over the years American psychology prepared the way for behaviorism to become the dominant force in the discipline. This is a result of three psychologists Edward Tolman, Clark Hull, and B.F. Skinner who followed in the footsteps of Watson. Psychology’s history frequently refers to Watsonian behaviorism that revolutionized in 1913 and was called “Behaviorist Manifesto”. John Watson was born 1878 and attained a Master’s degree when he was 21. Watson studied philosophy and sought out his own theories about behavior that he referred to as, “behaviorism”.
Watson discovered the school of behaviorism in psychology and was also the founder. Behaviorism is learning perspective of psychology that is idea that all things are organism to included feelings, acting, thinking, and are rewards of behaviors. His theory that is known as classical behaviorism is considered classical conditioning. His belief is, people do not experience emotions; however, they are more responding stimuli. Watson’s idea for classical behaviorism was to produce more objective science (Goodwin, 2008).
John Watson became more famous for his little Albert experiment. Little Albert was a child whose parents worked in the laboratory, and his parents had to bring him to work with them every day. Albert while at the lab played with the rat to keep busy. Watson noticed Albert’s behavior with the rat and considered it stimuli. He continued to have Albert play with the rat; however, Watson decided to conduct an experiment that he would hit a hammer this would signify that it was time to play. He conducted about seven presentations with the rat. He created a loud sound that scared Albert, and he started to develop a new response that was fear. The fear that Albert showed became more visible when he was present with other thinks that reminded him of the rat. These thinks could be dogs, furs, men with beard, and anything furry (Watson & Rayne, 1920)
The next psychologist to come along was B.F. Skinner who was born in 1904. Skinner attended Hamilton College in New York. Skinner was more into English Literature and had hopes of becoming a future writer, however he was unsuccessful. Skinner attended Howard University as a psychology student, after reading “An Outline of Philosophy” which spoke of John Watson. B.F. Skinner invented what known as the operant condition chamber and cumulative recorder. It developed the rate of response which became a dependent variable in psychological research. With this research Skinner was able to develop a more powerful, inductive, data driven method of experimental research.
After these accomplishments he received his Ph.D. in psychology. B.F. Skinner discovered his very own perspective known as radical behaviorism. Skinner’s theory indicated behavior is a result of what was happening in the environment. The behavior would exhibit cause and effect, whether positive or negative. It determined the probability of the reproduction of the behavior. Skinner’s focused on heavy attention regarding schedule of reinforcement. Reinforcement indicated that the more attention given to the behavior, the reward is more likely to change.
Once the behavior reoccurred the absence of the reward would decrease the likelihood of it would repeating itself. This type of conditioning is referred to as operant conditioning. It can be said that both Skinner and Watson’s had very similar outlook on behavior; however, they had one major difference. Watson argued against using reference in mental state and that psychology should be a study directly related to the behavior. Skinner rejected and stuck to his beliefs that everything was related to behavior (Goodwin, 2008).
The next psychologist is Edward C. Tolman who had his own perspective on behavior which he referred to a purposive behaviorism. Tolman was born in 1886 and attained his Ph.D. at Howard University. Tolman believed that behaviorist methodology was not radical behaviorist like that of his counterpart Skinner. He also believed that learning will occur without reinforcement. He believed that the information that is learned would be used in different environments. The behavior was not only just automatic responses to the stimuli. Despite Tolman’s view with the behaviorist, his view of the subject became known for the cognitive theory of learning. His thoughts were that learning was developed by knowledge and cognition of the environment and its relation. Tolman’s also conducted experiment using lab rats; however, Tolman studied rats running in a maze without any reward and determine his own analysis.
Thus he presented his theory that revealed learning could occur with the absence of a reward, and also humans learn without awareness. One the information is available or needed is when the person becomes aware of what has to be learned. His belief is that there are drives that motivate behavior and only when there is a shift in the motives then there will be a disturbance in the behavior. The comparison between Watson, Skinner and Tolman is that the all were psychologist and behaviorist.
Their idea and belief is that behavior is the main reason a person function the way they do and the details differ. Watson believed that there is a connection between how people respond to the environment. If a person has difficulty with certain behaviors, psychologist ties to reverse the behavior modification in hopes of desensitizing the fears that would change the behavior. Skinner’s theory is different from that of Watson’s and indicated that behaviors are a result of consequences. He did not believe the idea of inner cause for a behavior, but the reappearance was based on the consequences received once the behavior is present. Skinner perspective is that reinforcement can help to reduce progression of a behavior. It there is a reward every time for the behavior it would eventually decrease.
Tolman’s theory regarding behavior is that learning can occur even if there is an absence related to the reward without even knowing that learning occurred. Tolman’s greatest discovery was related to cognitive map. While researching behavior he noticed that thought processes occurred in his subjects. His cognition map is uses among other professions in modern psychology and he is known has the father of cognitive theory.
In conclusion, John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward C. Tolman are considered behaviorist of some type. The have strong beliefs in there underline behavior and found reason to support their theory. They are all considered the forefathers in psychology and their perspectives are contributions to the way behavior is seen today.
Goodwin, C. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology (3rd ed.). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection database. Watson, J., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned Emotional Reactions. Retrieved from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Watson/emotion.htm