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Critically evaluate the impact behaviourism has had on psychology.

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Critically evaluate the impact behaviourism has had on psychology For hundreds of years philosophers speculated about "the mind" and in around the 1880's the popular method of psychology dealt only with the conscious mind. The experiments carried out at this time were criticised for their lack of objectivity and by the 1920's a new brand of psychology emerged in the form of behaviourism. Psychology became a recognised discipline in around 1897 when Wilhelm Wundt started the first psychology lab in Germany. Wundt, along with others, attempted to investigate the mind through introspection, and observed their own conscious mental processes. While analysing their thoughts, images and feelings, they recorded and measured their results under controlled conditions and aimed to sort conscious thought into its basic elements as a chemist would with a chemical compound. This theory was known as structuralism. A particular critic of this method, in the early 1920's was John Broadus Watson (1878-1958), who felt that introspection was subjective and therefore erroneous. He also felt the only way forward was by using methods that could be observed by more that just one person and this could be achieved by studying behaviour. He wrote that "Behaviourism claims that 'consciousness' is neither a definable nor a usable concept; that it is merely another word for the 'soul' of more ancient times." ...read more.


Though it was less severe, the conditioning persisted even after a month and Albert's mother removed him from the hospital. The basic procedures used by Pavlov in classical conditioning STAGE 1 (before learning) FOOD (unconditioned stimulus) SALIVATION (unconditioned response) SALIVATION (conditioned response) BELL (conditioned stimulus) BELL (conditioned stimulus) FOOD (unconditioned stimulus) SALIVATION (unconditioned response) STAGE 2 (during learning) STAGE 3 (after learning) Unlike classical conditioning, operant conditioning is not induced by a specific stimulus; it is more a voluntary action. Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949) first became aware of this and constructed a puzzle box designed for cats. The task for the cat was to operate a latch which released them from the cage and allowed them to get to a piece of fish on the outside. Each time, after eating the fish, they were immediately placed back inside the box and another piece of fish made visible outside. The first escapes from the box seemed to be accidental with the first escape taking five minutes. After 20 trials the cat could escape in 5 seconds. Thorndikes puzzle box. Thorndike accounted for this by stating that the escapes were random or trial and error. There was no sudden insight into how escape was made but more a gradual reduction in errors made so, therefore, a shorter escape time. ...read more.


More treatments involve large doses of injected emetic, increases in the length of treatment or a larger range of alcohol. (UCS) (UCR) Emetic drug Nausea + Vomiting (CS) + (UCS) (UCR) Alcohol + Emetic drug Nausea + Vomiting (CS) (CR) Alcohol Nausea + Vomiting It has been found that about half the alcoholic patients that are treated in this way abstain for at least a year. Critics say that behaviourism over simplifies human behaviour and that it sees the human as a robot instead of a creature with free will and purpose. It shows no clear boundaries for what is behaviour and what is merely the body functioning in the way it should and does not explain or even acknowledge the internal processes that cause our reactions to different stimuli. The behaviourist approach also dictates what knowledge the "student" will learn, in what order they will learn it and how they will learn it, and ensures that the "student" concentrates on key points rather than information as a whole. It also deals only with the problem and fails to search out the root cause, which often means the problem, without continuous treatment, can reoccur. Behaviourism has also been seen as a form of "brain washing" and makes no allowances for differences in intelligence. Though behaviourism has its critics it was undoubtedly a turning point in history for psychology. Kristine Batley 06/05/2007 2 ...read more.

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The writer has covered quite a lot of ground in this writing and appears to have a good grasp of behaviourism. The structure of the essay needs improving but this is where having a good plan can help. There needs to be an introduction as well as a conclusion to the essay. The conclusion at present is rather short and needs lengthening. Also the writer must always use their own words and reference any quotes used.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

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