History of Behaviourism

1469 Words6 Pages
Abstract This essay traces the influences of key historical founders of the psychological perspective known as behaviourism. It provides a definition, together with an understanding of the main concepts and principles of behaviourism. This includes tracing the notions of early theorists on how behaviour can be observed as a reflex, through a conditioned reflex, the influence of emotions on learned behaviour, and the role that reinforcement can have in shaping behaviour. The studies and theories posed will demonstrate the usefulness as behavourism as a scientific investigation of observable behaviour. Finally it provides examples of the practical use of behaviourism as a clinical intervention. Psychology: History and Perspectives Defining Behaviourism The development of psychological theories throughout history has been based on the efforts of, many individuals. Each unique way of thinking and the ability to synthesize information provided by one researcher to another has been the building blocks to the body of psychological knowledge that is known today. This essay will show how the behaviourism perspective has contributed to this body of knowledge. It will trace its origins showing the principles outlined by the main theoretical proponents. Behaviourism is a unique perspective that links historically with ‘objective psychology’. It poses three main tenets. Firstly it proposes that behaviour can be studied in a systematic and observable manner. Secondly it suggests that only observable overt behaviours should be studied and internal states such as cognitions, emotions and moods are too subjective. Finally, it is based on the belief that behaviors can be trained and changed (Hergenhahn, 2009). Ivan M. Sechenov, a Russian theorist and founder of objective psychology, believed that introspection; reporting first hand on one’s conscious thoughts and feelings,
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