A challenge to introspection

psychologists used introspection until early 20th century.

The approach was attacked by John Watson in 1913. Wrote “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It”. He attacked current views of field and proposed a different way of thinking about psychology.

Watson’s Claims

The science of psychology so far was a failure because psychologists were studying the wrong thing. The proper study of psychology should be behavior, not cognitive processes.

Psychological flowchart

stimuli and responses were objective. Easy to measure and study. The mind is subjective; hard to measure and study (the black box). Why start with hard part? Study the easy stuff early on.

After war, Watson’s approach spread like wild fire. Many psychologists abandoned introspection and studied behavior exclusively. This was the Behaviorist period of psychology (about 40 years [1920 to ca 1960]). Radical behaviorists took Watson’s claims even further. They didn’t see the mind as being part of the puzzle at all.

Radical behaviorism is the belief that the mind doesn’t in fact exist. It’s a fiction we tell ourselves.

stimuli ——>               ———-> responses.

It’s like a switchboard. Present correct stimuli and get a response.

B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) was a radical behaviorist.

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