• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically evaluate the impact behaviourism has had on psychology.

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)


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.

Score 3

Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Humanistic Psychology

    Each reflects our biological nature. Within Psychology, it is the only approach, which tries to explain behaviour in terms of the structures of the physical body. Over two hundred years ago, Julien de La Mettrie made the assumption that the mind has its physical basis in the brain.

  2. Classical conditioning in human behaviour.

    Albert B's mother was a wet nurse in a children's hospital. Albert was described as 'healthy from birth' and 'on the whole stolid and emotional'. When he was about nine months old his reactions to various stimuli were tested - a white rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, masks

  1. Physical, Social and Emotional Development of Children.

    (Yvonne Nolan: BTEC National Early Years). Bowlby noted that there seemed to be a pattern to the way children reacted if they were separated from their mina attachments. This pattern was often referred to as separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can clearly be seen in babies around seven months.

  2. In Britain today, most people live in nuclear families - The aim of this ...

    78% lived in such family in spring 2002 compared to 84 % in 1992 and 88 % in 1981. This is justified as I have already said that there has been an overall increase in children living in single parent families.

  1. Describe processes for initiating, maintaining, developing and concluding a counselling relation.

    This is known as facilitating, understanding and decision-making. Towards the end of the session the counsellor will bring the conversation to an end, so they can go over what they have talked about. The counsellor will then offer the client either another session or ask them whether they feel the need to be referred in themselves.

  2. How does watching television influence the behaviours and cognitions of young children?

    This therefore suggests that children, who watch television programs with violence or arguments in, may be more likely to act antisocially, although only when faced with a similar situation.

  1. Describe and evaluate one of the major approaches to psychology in terms of its ...

    Behaviourism in its pure form looks at classical (Pavlov) and operant (Skinner and Watson) conditioning. The latter developed further by Thorndike his view was that operant conditioning had an important feature which he believed to be reinforcement (Davenport 1995: 12).

  2. Nature VS nurture - Issues, perspectives and debates in psychology.

    Albert had learnt this behaviour. So according to the learning approach it therefore follows that nurture is solely responsible for human development. Watson's study was On the other hand is the physiological approach. This approach presents the assumption that genetics are responsible for human behaviour.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work