TASK 6: FROM THINKING ANIMALS TO BEHAVIOURISM
TASK 6: FROM THINKING ANIMALS TO BEHAVIOURISM
THE PERCEPTION OF PSYCHOLOGY IN THE USA AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 20th century •
• Creation of psychology laboratories led to success in the USA.
• 1892 the American Psychological Association (APA) was founded, giving psychology researchers a forum to meet and discuss their findings.
• 1887 G. Stanley Hall founded the American Journal of Psychology
• 1894 J.M. Balwdin and J. McKeen Cattell started the psychological review
The first American psychology: functionalism
• Strong interest in Darwin’s evolutionary theory.
• Eugenics had a strong impact.
Eugenics= social philosophy claiming that the fate of a nation can be improved by selective breeding of the inhabitants
• Mistrust in intellectualism – America was a nation of businessmen, not interested in abstract science. - science had to be practical = functionalism
• Functionalism identified with the introspective study of consciousness and structuralism
Trying to win over the public
= view that mental functions are localized in the brain and that the capacity of a function corresponds to the size of the brain part devoted to it; gave rise to personality assessment by means of analyzing bumps on the skull initiated by Gall and Spurzheim at the beginning of the nineteenth century
German physician Franz Joseph Gall (1758-1828)
• took root in continental Europe after Mesmer claimed he could cure patients by restoring their ‘animal magnetism’
• Became popular in America after the Parisian Charles Poyen in the 1830-40s gave a series of lectures
• Belief that the spirits of the dead could be attracted by mediums
• Started in the mid 19th C when two young girls (fox sisters
Informing the public about the “new psychology”
• New psychologists published hundreds of articles about the new, scientific psychology In popular magazines. Unfortunately their impact was limited, because the topics they talked about failed to capture the public’s imagination to the same degree as phrenology, mesmerism and spiritualism
• Benjamin (2000) described one attempt in McClure’s magazine
Inspiration from animal research
• Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ – evolution had a direction and an equilibrium endpoint
• As a result of Darwin’s and Spencer’s writings many learned individuals became interested and they looked for similarities between human and animal behavior
to place the different species on the evolution scale
Early research: trying to understand the animal’s mind
• Briton George Romanes combined observations of behavior with interference of the animal’s adaptive capacities. These capacities were believed to be the result of mind that resembled that of humans.
Anthropomorphic interpretation: interpreting behavior of non-human living creatures by attributing human motives and human-like intelligence to them. Animals had reasoning capacities similar to those of humans
Thorndike’s puzzle box
• By attempting to study children’s behavior, Thorndike used chickens because children participants were hard to find.
• Change 1: Thorndike did not rely on anecdotal evidence, but on careful observation of animals put in controlled environments
• Change2: he based his conclusions on the animals’ behavior not on what supposedly went on in their minds
• After Thorndike’s PhD, turned to educational issues and therefore, is also celebrated as the father of educational psychology
: He put hungry animals in puzzle boxes he constructed himself. Outside the box, food was presented which the animal could reach if it managed to solve the puzzle and open the door.
He noted how long it took the animal to get out of the box
Law effect = behavioral law introduced by Thorndike to refer to the fact that behaviors followed by positive consequences are strengthened and more likely to be repeated
Instrumental conditioning = name introduced by Thorndike to refer to learning on the basis of the law of effect, called operant conditioning by Skinner
Comparative psychology = study of behavior of animals, usually with the intention to shed light on human functioning within the framework of the evolutionary theory.
• Studied digestive system in animals (won a Nobel prize in 1904). Introduced techniques that allowed him to continuously measure the secretion of fluids by the organs
• After 1900 became interested in the question of why organs started to secrete fluids before the food was presented. This would be the start of his research on classical conditioning
big impact on the development of behaviorism.
The 1913 behaviorist manifesto
• In 1907, Watson became editor of Psychological review and took this advantage to promote the case of animal research.
n 1913, he published an article against the lack of rigor in the ongoing investigations in most psychological laboratories. This article would become the beginning of behaviorism
o In the article, there is a transition from introspection into one’s own mind to the observation of other’s behavior.
o The impact of the evolutionary theory gave way to observation of others, survival in the context of natural selection primarily depends on “how” the animal acts not what It “thinks”.
o Introspection turned out to be a very counterintuitive and difficult procedure for students to use in their practicals. They found it much easier to observe what others were doing.
o In order to become a real science, psychology had to focus on observable behavior and ignore everything that referred to consciousness, thinking, feelings
o In his manifesto, Watson left an opening for later study of more complex behavior. In his later writings he came to deny the importance of such behavior.
Behaviourism = movement in psychology arguing that observable behaviours are the most important aspect of human functioning to be understood; denies the various extents the relevance of information processing going on in the mind; particularly strong in the USA in the first half of the twentieth century
Thorndike and the Origins of Animal Psychology
1898 is celebrated as the founding of experimental animal psychology with the publications of Thorndike's ́Animal Intelligence`
Thorndike's methods and explanations overcame anecdotalism,anthropomorphism, and introspectionism
his methods and explanations replaced Anthropomorphism with Mechanomorphism and Theriomorphism
is the exclusive attribution of mechanistic properties to psychological phenomena, whereas
is the attribution of the qualities of nonhuman animals to human beings (e.g. Comparative Psychology
Thorndike's criticisms have typically been interpreted as a move away from the anthropomorphism of the 19thcentury naturalist
By enlisting animals as analogs for human psychology, Thorndike, like many other animal psychologists in the period from 1890 to 1920, simply ignored the dictates of Evolutionary Theory by Darwin
Experiments with animals became more and more popular in the field of psychology after Thorndike
The influence of the philosophy of science
=Movement which saw science as the motor of progress.
Many scientists tried to convince society that scientific knowledge was superior to humanist knowledge :
Because science is based on observation and experimentation, its findings are always true.
Scientific theories are summaries of the empirical findings. Therefore, they are always true as well.
Because scientific knowledge is infallible, it should be the motor of all progress.
Philosophy of science = Branch of philosophy that studies the foundations of scientific research, to better understand the position of scientific research relative to other forms of information acquisition and generation
• Mathematical laws to describe reality caught everyone’s attention. A true science was a science that had its knowledge described in mathematical equations.
• A few attempts were made to translate psychology into mathematical equations, but failed.
Behaviorists distilled three ideas:
You had to be able to represent the elements of a mathematical law as numbers.
Gave way to operational definitions –
definition of a variable in terms of how the variable has been measured, allows description of the variable in quantitative form
distinction had to be made between independent variables and dependent variables.
Necessity for verification in science. Statements were only useful if they could be verified by empirical observation
Verification = principle that up to the 1950’s formed the core of the scientific method: a proposition was meaningful (scientific) if its truth could be empirically verified
This ruled out religious statements, and also introspective statements.
Further developments in behaviourism: Skinner vs Tolman
• Watson’s legacy was continued by three heavyweight successors (in addition to hundreds of lesser-known researchers all over the world)
Burrhus Frederic Skinner (operant conditioning & radical behaviourism)
Radical behaviorism= strong version of behaviourism; defended by Skinner, which denies the relevance of information processing in the mind and holds that all human behavior can be understood on the basis of S-R associations
Tolman and purposive behaviorism:
He doubted Skinner’s interpretation of operant conditioning, according to Tolman, operant conditioning could not be understood in simple S-R terms and he devised several experiments to show this.
• In Skinner’s view, animals acquired behaviors because the association between an environment cue and a particular behavior was strengthened by subsequent reinforcement.
• Tolman argued that animals who were not reinforced should not learn.
: Three conditions
A condition in which hungry rats were placed in a maze that contained food at the end of the maze.
Rats in this condition showed a fast learning curve. They made fewer errors running towards the food.
A condition in which hungry rats were placed in the same maze, but the food was only introduced on day 3.
Rats in this condition did not run towards the end of the maze on the first two days, but showed a very different behavior on day 4.
A condition in which food was introduced on day 7.
Showed the same massive and instantaneous learning on day 8
• According to Tolman, this showed that the rat’s learning was not due to the fact that presence of food had reinforce taking the correct turns, but that the rats had learned the layout of the maze and were able to use this knowledge when they had a reason to do so – he called this latent learning – the acquisition of knowledge that is not demonstrated in observable behavior.
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Purposive behaviourism = version o fbehaviourism defended by Tolman, wich saw behavior as goal-related (means to an end) agreed with other behavirourists that psychology should be based on bservable behaviour
Psychology as the Behaviorist View it
Watson argued that research with introspection has failed, which is the reason why psychology has not been a real science for a long time
Further he said that humans and animals must be understood as equal essential for understanding behavior and that this is only possible with observation
Psychology/behaviorism: Changes in What Students Do
• Three key ideas about respondent condition
• Four point about operant condition
process is widespread
Learning by operant conditioning is not confined to any particular
Teachers are not the only persons controlling reinforcements
Multiple examples of operant conditioning often happen at the same time