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Compare and Contrast Behaviorism, Culture and Diversity

Using the research of the Russian Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, John Broadus Watson argued that psychology could become a natural science only by truly adopting the methods of science.

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Using the research of the Russian Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, John Broadus Watson argued that psychology could become a natural science only by truly adopting the methods of science. For him, psychological study must have an empirical, objective subject matter and that the events to be investigated as possible causes of behavior must also be described objectively and verified empirically through experimental research. A very different form of behaviorism came from the work of the American psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner. Skinner, too, focused his research on behavior. He also continued to search for lawful relationships between behavior and the environment. Skinner's thinking began with an acceptance of the stimulus-response approach of Watson, but Skinner ultimately took behaviorism in a different direction (Gleitman, 2004).

The first presentation of Skinner's approach was in The Behavior of Organisms. In this book, he described the methods and results of systematic research that demonstrated the key points of what was later to become known as radical behaviorism: Stimulus-response relationships, or reflexes, include only a narrow range of behavior; classical, or Pavlovian, conditioning could not account for the development of new behavior or the complexity of human behavior; behavior does show lawful relationships with the environment; the consequences immediately following a behavior determine the future strength of that behavior; new behavior can be acquired by the process of shaping (from existing behavior, elemental forms can be strengthened by consequences which follow the step-by-step approximations until the new behavior is present); once acquired, behavior is maintained by a particular arrangement of environmental consequences; and certain events are present. Watson's behaviorism was an extension of Pavlov's discovery of the conditioning of stimulus-response reflexive relationships. The term "reflex" refers to the connection between some environmental event, or stimulus, and the response that it elicits. The response is involuntary-inborn or unlearned- and relatively simple. In addition, no prior learning is necessary for the response to occur when the stimulus is presented. What Pavlov had already demonstrated experimentally was how previously neutral parts of the environment could become effective in stimulating or eliciting a response. Watson's significant contribution resulted from his attempt to show how Pavlov's discovery ...

Solution Summary

The importance of understanding the cultural and diversity context of psychopathology cannot be overstated.

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