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Running head: THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

The Perspectives of Watson, Skinner and Tolman Latonia Wells Psy 310 March 5, 2012 Lillian Fillpot

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

The Perspectives of Watson, Skinner and Tolman Behaviorism is one of the strongest forms of psychology that evolved during the 19th century. Behaviorism is a learning-perspective, which derived from the philosophical aspect of psychology. Behaviorism is based on the premise that all organisms have behaviors that involve acting, thinking and feeling. Behaviorism is studied by Behaviorist who are concerned with how and why behaviors are learned and reinforced. This school of thought emerged as an American phenomenon that has emphasized the importance of learning through perseverance. Behaviorist principles are widely used in mental health settings by therapists and counselors who utilize techniques to treat mental illnesses. There are specific concepts and methods that are used in when studying behaviorism. John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner, and Edward C. Tolman were among the many psychologists that changed and improved the theories and practices of American Behaviorism through the ages (Goodwin, 2008). This paper will examine and compare and contrast the theories of the three men and describe how each of them relates to the field of psychology in modern times. John B. Watson John B Watson was an American psychologist, born in 1878 in Greenville, South Carolina. He received is doctorial degree in 1903 and later worked as a professor at John Hopkins University Behaviorism was introduced in 1913 by Watson as a dominant force in American psychology for decades. Watson insisted that behavior was a physiological reaction to environmental stimuli and he rejected the exploration of mental processes as being unscientific (2008). Watson began his own theories about behavior after omitting the idea of introspection and consciousness. He saw psychology as the study of actions and the ability to control these actions and this thought became the theory of behaviorism. Watsons view on Behaviorism was

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

considered extreme or radical because of the radical reduction and extreme anti mentalisms. Watson believed that stimuli and responses were responsible for how behaviors are learned and that psychology should not focus on consciousness and mental processes but instead focus on behavior and its cause. Watson was interested in animal behaviors and began to shape his beliefs about psychology in general through studying them. He used the scientific method in which he conducted research by observing and measuring behaviors. Watson was interested in how the principle of classical conditioning could be applied to humans. Watson made some claims about behaviorisms ability to improve the quality of life by the use of conditioning. He believed that emotion was a reaction to ones surroundings and for this reason he wanted to use human subjects for his research. In his research Watson applied the theory used by Ivan Pavlov to animals and human subjects to investigate reflexes, conditioned emotional responses, and basic emotional responses. Watson's best-known and most controversial contribution the behaviorism was the Little Albert" experiment. in this experiment Watson wanted to research the three basic emotions of children and how he developed a technique to condition the subject and control his emotions. In this experiment Watson used an eleven month old boy in which the study would be named after. In the Little Albert Watson experiment classical conditioning was used to prove that emotion was a reaction to environment. In todays society his research would be viewed as an extremely controversial psychological experiment. There were also ethical issues about the research being conducted with the baby, out of concern that he would be harmed. Watson ensured that the child would not be harmed and his mother was compensated for allowing him to participate in the study. In his study Watson conditioned the baby to be afraid of objects with fur. Little Albert was given a mouse to play with and then, Watson would use

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

loud noises to instill fear in the child which he soon associated with the rat. This experiment of classical conditioning would soon become a major influence on child rearing. B. F. Skinner B. F. Skinner was born in the small town of Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, in March 1904, he was an American Psychologist that developed a distinctive approach to understanding human and animal learning and behavior called operant reinforcement/conditioning. B.F. Skinner was a pioneer in the field of Operant conditioning he believed that behaviors were the result of rewards and punishments, and this is how he formed his theory around operant conditioning. In Skinner's approach, he rejected the formal theory used in learning and psychology. Skinner's theory suggests that behaviors are a result of the environment, that the behavior exhibited causes and effects, whether positive or negative, that determined the probability of the behavior being reproduced. Skinners main focus was to study theories of operant conditioning in which repeated behaviors are directly dependent on the positive or negative consequences of behaviors regardless to the way they are stimulated (Goodwin, 2008). His theory uses the schedule of reinforcement to show how behaviors that are frequently rewarded occur less. Skinner made claims of explaining human language using operant conditioning. He felt that verbal behaviors consisted of responses related to identifiable stimuli and the responses were the direct result of operant conditioning. In 1931, after attaining his Ph.D., Skinner created his own school of thought that sought out to understand behaviorism and its application to natural selection. His particular type of behaviorism would be known as Radical Behaviorism. Skinners central insight was that in shaping behavior, what followed the behavior (that is, the reinforcement) was central, as opposed to what preceded the behavior, as had been claimed by Pavlov and Watson(2005,para 3). B.F.

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

Skinners contributed to modern day psychology as are viewed as the building blocks for behavioral analysis. Skinner developed a chamber which he called the Skinner Box. The Skinner Box Is a laboratory apparatus in which the animal is caged and used for experiments in operant conditioning. The box provided a controlled environment where the behavior of the rats could be carefully monitored with only a few variables at a time (2005). Inside the box was a lever that is pressed by the animal to gain reward or avoid punishment. This chamber is used as a controlled environment to study, record and measure behaviors by operant conditioning. By using this box Skinner was able to show how conditioning phenomenas such as extinction, generalization, and discrimination where in reference to the control of a stimulus. Edward C. Tolman Edward C. Tolman was born in 1886 into an upper-middle class environment in a suburb of Boston. He was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to studying learning and motivation. He focused on studying mental processes that were involved in Behaviorism. He was considered a cognitive behaviorist who developed his own form of behaviorism during the time the field was being dominating by Watson. Tolman believed that individuals do more than merely respond to stimuli; they act on beliefs, attitudes, changing conditions, and they strive toward goals. However , he felt that animals possessed a special learning ability in where they could learn behaviors that would be used at a later time. The main focus of Tolmans theory was his concern with concepts of knowledge, thinking, planning, intention, inference, and purpose (2006). He formulated a behavioristic learning theory that would be called the Sign-Gestalt and expectancy theory - that emphasized the cognitive nature of learning (2006). Tolmans Sign Gestalt Theory, suggested that the three parts of learning worked together to form a gestalt. They were internal processes which consisted of the goal of the

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

behavior, the signal for action, and the means-end relations, he believed behavior were learned by configuring these sign gestalts into cognitive maps. Tolmans greatest contribution to modern psychology was creating the theory of cognitive learning that is used to solve human problems. Tolmans a cognitive map concept is extensively used in various psychological applications. Many psychotherapists today use cognitive mapping in their practices to aid their patients with figuring out how to change their situations re route themselves from the path of self-destructive behavior. Cognitive mapping is a process, Tolman coined in 1948 in a paper that he published in The Psychological Review. The is a process in which people can process their environments and use problems solving and memory to store special knowledge. The theoretical model of cognitive mapping describes the three variables which has an influence human on behavior. These maps are considered mental models of processing and cognition and are composed of psychological functions by which an individual can acquire code, decode, store, and recall information. Edward Tolman used his behavioral methods to understand the mental process of animals as well as humans. His theory of Latent Learning, was applied to challenge rats in a maze. He conducted this study to determine if the animals had the ability to learn their environment. In Tolmans theory he believed that learning could occur without a reinforcer or rewards and it could take place in other environments and is not the result of an automatic response. In this experiment he built a maze that would offer a reward of food if they could make it to the end of the maze. The rats traveled through paths and eventually they memorized the maze. After internalizing the maze the rats would move through the maze with no problems until they reached their goal. Conclusion

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

Behaviorism has been, and will continue to be a significant psychological force in American psychology. The thought Behaviorism has developed vastly because of the different perspectives of the psychologists and researches involved. All three of these men believed that behavior was the underlying force of why people function in the manner they do. They were all behaviorist with different views in the details of the subject. They were all concerned with similar issues of Behaviorism but differed in the details, and what is learned from stimuli as related to our environment. Unlike, Skinner and Watson, Tolman believed that behaviorism was instead a response to stimuli. Watson and Skinner had the same outlook on behaviors, but there were differences, Watson believed that there was no need for the use of references as related to mental states. Watson's felt that psychology should be used to directly study behaviors and his theories are still practiced in modern psychology. Watsons believed that the environment was direct influence in responses. He felt that emotions were a result of other stimuli and not emotions. B. F. Skinner was a radical behaviorist who had different thoughts he believed everything was related to behavior including emotions. Skinner's theory is prevalent still a practiced psychology, but is utilized more in animal training and behavioral studies. Skinner's theory differed from Watson in that he believed behavior was a result of consequence. "He rejected ideas that there were inner causes for behavior, and emphasized observable behavior as opposed to the theorizing (Mclntyre, 2003). He believed reoccurring behaviors were based on the consequences received at the time the behavior was presented. Tolmans theories still have value because he was firm in his methodology. He was opposed to the school of thought as it was defined by Watson, because he disliked his view behaviorism perspectives and believed that learning could be achieved without the use of rewards, due to its cognitive nature. The ideas of all three men

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

contributed to the study of behaviors and the process that are used to help modify or condition these behaviors. Psychological theories are always changing but the contributions of these men remain a staple in the value of the study of modern psychology.

References behaviorism. (2008). In The Columbia Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/entry/columency/behaviorism

THE PERSPECTIVES OF WATSON, SKINNER AND TOLMAN

B. F. SKINNER. (2005). In Key Thinkers in Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/entry/edinburghthinkl/b_f_ski nner Goodwin, C.J. (2008). A History of Modern Psychology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Mclntyre, T. (2003). The History of Behaviorism. Retrieved on March 2, 2012 fromhttp://www.behavioradvisor.com/BehavoristHistory.html Skinner box. (2005). In Merriam-Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary, Revised Edition. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/entry/mwmedicaldesk/skinner _box TOLMAN'S THEORY. (2006). In Elsevier's Dictionary of Psychological Theories. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com/entry/estpsyctheory/tolman_s _theory