Behaviorism, Criminology

Essay by RiverpigCollege, Undergraduate February 2006

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Behaviorism originated from the work of an American psychologist John B. Watson. He claimed that psychology wasn't concerned with the mind or with human consciousness. Rather, psychology would be concerned solely with behaviour. Therefore humans could be studied objectively, just like rats and apes.

There are two events that stand out as foundations for behavioural therapy. The first is the rise of behavioural therapy in the early 1900's:

J.B Watson critisised the subjectivity and mentalism of the psychology of the time and advocated behaviourism as the basis for the objective study of behaviour Watson's emphasis on the importance of environmental events, his rejection of covert aspects of the individual, and his claim that all behaviour could be understood as a result of learning became the formal basis of behaviourism. Watson's view has been widely rejected by other behaviour therapists and more refined versions of behaviourism have been developed by theorists such as B.F Skinner, whose radical behaviourism has had a huge impact not only on behaviour therapy but also on psychology in general.

Skinner, like Watson insisted that overt behaviour is the only acceptable subject of scientific investigation.

The second was the experimental research on the psychology of learning:

In Russia, around the turn of the 20th century, Ivan Pavlov established the foundations of classical conditioning. Research on conditioning and learning principles, conducted largely in the animal laboratory, became a dominant part of experimental psychology in the United States following World War 2. Workers in this area, in the traditions of Pavlov and Skinner, were committed to the scientific analysis of behaviour using the laboratory rat and pigeon as their subjects. Among the early applications of conditioning principles to the treatment of clinical problems were two particularly notable studies.

Types Of Conditioning

Experiments by behaviorists identify conditioning as...