General History Of Essay, Research Paper
Psych Two Take-Home Essay
The study of Behaviorism dates can be traced back to the classical Greek philosophers, and goes into the nineteenth and twentieth-century psychology. Below is a list of fundamental psychologists and their contributions.
Philosophers and psychologists have been intrigued with the human thought process for thousands of years, with one of the first being the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He presented some of the first operational methods in how human learning and memory are formed. He also emphasized the importance of mental imagery.
William Wundt is considered the father of Psychology when he opened his laboratory in Leipzig, Germany. With this done, Wundt separated the disciplines of philosophy and physiology and psychology emerged as a new and separate discipline. G. Stanley Hall was one of Wundt’s early students, and was important in that he contributed to psychology’s rapid growth in America.
Hall opened America’s first psychological research lab at John Hopkins University in 1883. A few years after that, Hall launched America’s first Psychology journal. Finally, in 1892, he pushed to establish the American Psychological Association (APA), and was elected as the first president. Today, the APA is the world’s largest organization that strives to further psychological research, and has over 14,000 members.
Wundt also proposed that psychology should study mental processes via a method called introspection. Introspection is where trained observers would pay careful attention to their own sensations and try to report them as subjectively as possible. The observers were encouraged to describe the sensations they felt, rather than the stimuli that produced it.
Wundt worked hard for fifty years to promote his introspection technique through various conferences and journals. His techniques have been incorporated into today’s research on cognitive processes. Wundt also emphasized the importance of replications, where the phenomenon in experiments would be tested under different conditions. Although Wundt’s methods are similar to today’s methods in cognitive research, he wrote that introspection could not investigate higher level mental processes such as thinking, language, and critical thinking.
On a final note about Wundt and his colleagues, they subscribed to the school of structuralism, which was based on the belief that the goal of psychology is to analyze consciousness into basic elements and investigate how these elements relate. The end goal of structuralists was to identify and examine the fundamental components of living, like sensations, feelings and images–in a way, an early study of cognition.
Hermann Ebbinghaus was another German psychologist that was around at the time of Wundt, but he decided not to subscribe to Wundt’s philosophy of introspection. He devised his own methods for studying human memory where he devised over 2000 nonsense syllables and tested his own ability to learn these stimuli. He devised these nonsense syllables in order to prevent past experience/knowledge from interfering with the subjects’ performance levels. Ebbinghaus also examined the factors that might influence performance like the time delay between the lists of presentations.
Meanwhile in America, Mary Whiten Calkins, who was also the first woman to be president of The American Psychological Association, was also conducting similar experiments in memory research. Calkins also reported a phenomenon now known as the recency effect, which referred to recalling items in memory.
These two and others made a bigger impact on cognitive psychology then Wundt did with his introspective techniques. For example, Ebbinghaus’s use of nonsense syllables encouraged other research psychologists to use meaningless material to study how memory works. Also, unlike introspection, later researchers conducted experiments in where testing how selected variables influenced memory rather then to describe and report the sensations produced by the stimulus.
Behaviorism and the Beginnings of Cognitive Psychology
* William James
A “competitor” to Wundt’s concepts of introspection/structuralism was William James, and his school of thought, functionalism. Functionalism was based on the belief that psychology should study the function and purpose of consciousness, instead of its structure.
While James’ formal training was in medicine, he quickly became bored of it, with it being not intellectually challenging enough. James was highly impressed with Darwin’s natural selection theory, where only the fittest survive. James applied this theory to humans where he noted that consciousness is an important characteristic of our species–from which he argued that psychology should investigate the functions of consciousness, rather then, the structure. He argued that consciousness is a stream of thought, and when one analyzes consciousness into its elements, structuralists would look at static points in the flow.
Functionalists did not concentrate on sensation and perception, but instead on mental testing, patterns of developments in kinds, behavioral differences in the two sexes, etc. Cognition started to become the focus of study as functionalism played out its role, and on to Behaviorism and Gestalt psychology.
* John B. Watson
John Watson believed that psychologists should only study observable behavior, hence his school of thought called behaviorism. He proposed that psychologists should abandon the study of consciousness altogether, and focus on behaviors that could be directly observed. This way, he asserted, all data collected could be verified via using the scientific method.
Behaviorists began to concentrate their studies by using the stimulus-response psychology method. This research method was epitomized be Pavlov’s dog salivating experiment. This relatively simple experiment gave insights into how cognitive bonds are formed-and so a methodology was made with Pavlov’s experiment.
Despite how Watson’s influential views shaped the development of psychology for decades, he didn’t get to actively participate in the actual research. He left the science community after a divorce scandal back in 1920. Watson’s views were challenged by another school of thought called Gestalt psychology.
Pavlov was a Russian psychologist, whose research on digestive glands won
him the Nobel Prize and led to his studies in classical conditioning. His work greatly advanced experimental animal physiology, provided psychology with a more objective methodology, and led to new methods of treating mental illnesses.
Although he was a brilliant physiologist and a skillful surgeon, Ivan Pavlov is remembered primarily for his development of the concept of conditioned reflex. In a well-known experiment he trained a hungry dog to salivate at the sound of a bell. The bell had
previously become associated by the dog with the sight of food. (Classical conditioning)
Pavlov’s work laid a foundation for the scientific analysis of human behavior. In 1904 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for his work on digestive secretions.
Behaviorism is the theoretical orientation that is based on the belief that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior. One of the biggest contributions that came out of behaviorism was the rise of animal research in psychology. From the use of animal research, experiments with a tighter control over variables are not possible.