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History of Behaviorism

Behavior of an individual is greatly determined by the foundation he or she acquired during the early years of foundation. During this stage the child needs maximum guidance and protection to ensure they acquire the best practices. Parent, teachers and other stakeholder who in the course of their work handle children, have no option but to ensure they give them best. All the stake holders are encouraged to listen to the children to know what they want in life.

From history, behaviorism started very early and various psychologists have studied its transition to the present. According to experts, most antisocial behavior found in the adult can be traced to their early childhood. Thus it’s paramount that parents take no chance in bringing up their children well. There are various methods that can be used to instill discipline to a child without necessarily using physical methods. One of the proven methods is time out; this is among the best method to instill discipline to small children. It helps in motivation and encouragement of children and that at the same time helps them to safeguard their good manners.

Behaviors of a child do not only determine his future character but also affect their development process. One of the most important things to understand while bringing up kids is how they develop and come to know the world around them. Children get to learn the environment around them through accommodation and assimilation i.e. understanding by copying the superior members of the society around the kid. This ability is different in many kids but its nature at any level is determined by a number of factors which among others includes; the age of a child, the sex of the kid, environment itself, etc. In understanding all these, we need to know the history of behaviorism and culture in relation to behavior and also evolution. In this paper we shall try to analyze the works of a few personalities that have tried to expound on this subject over the years. Amongst the personality that shall be studied includes; Franklin Henry Giddling, James Angell, James Watson, BF Skinner.

History of Behaviorism

Behaviorism can be traced back in early 1880s. The transition of behaviorism has faced numerous challenges as different groups as they to proof their prowess. Its success presently can be attributed to the dedication of a few individuals that dedicated their time on learning about the behaviorism concept. It’s believed that behaviorism originated from the growth of the dogma of American Progressive movement which took place between the year 1880 and 1920. The movement was greatly associated with the political movement even though it effect were felt broadly to a great extent in the evolution of the liberal philosophy. The movement was started by John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. They believed that the society is vault together by an embedded social contract permitting political independence and the right of the individuals in exchange for commitment of stewardship of social needs.

Progressive movement aimed at bringing the settlement of the science to the test of social needs. This was done in trying to offer material gain to those who were disadvantaged by the industrial revolution. American social science was started in the year 1863 to accommodate the increasing number of academics coming out from the up-coming American university. The group did publish the first social science journal. From the time of commencement of the association i.e. the American Social Science up to the last part of 19th century, psychology still had not come out as a discipline in its own. It was still observed as a moral philosophy. Pressure was on the professors of philosophy to engage themselves on research and come out with the practical application of the concept.

There is another group that believed that the behaviorism started as early as 1897 and could be found in Franklin Henry Giddling laboratory. Giddling created a sympathy scale which he used to measure the level of sympathy between different races. The scale was known to be racist but this did not block Giddling from proofing his point. He concentrated on those behaviors he believed represented sympathy. Giddlings sympathy scale did contain all the essentials that the behaviorism required. The sympathy was expressed on how it was observed and the measurable behavior.

Giddling updated his theory of sympathy scale in the year 1907, by then the psychology was actively undergoing a transition phase. John dewey and William James who were both American philosophers advanced in the issues of functionalism and structuralism the issue they had started with their German counterpart. The two working together also advanced in the concept of the “law of effect”. It was not far before they break their rank with their German counterpart the two integrated the concept of functionalism and structuralisms into a single concept. But it was not clear which concept would result after integrating the two.

James Angell who did great study under Dewey and James contributed to a greater extent in moving the American psychology in the course of behaviorism and therefore completely breaking with German functionalism and structuralism. At the time Angell was the president of America psychological association and also the adviser of James Watson in his dissertation. Angell gave Watson an opportunity in redefining the concept.

In the year 1903 Watson earned the PhD, after which he wrote a book on behaviorism, the book is considered the first one of the kind. The book was a great achievement in the concept of behaviorism. First behaviorism was specified in definitive goals, methods and parameters established. Watson illustrated behaviorism in structure and rationalist thought, and on the principle that learning do influence the development and behavior. He detached any connection with philosophy; he did so by leaving philosophical terms and thought, and used the language that reflected expediency and closeness of behaviorism.

Another person who is considered to have contributed greatly in the concept of behaviorism is BF Skinner, he concentrated his work in performing experiments, and he did so and recorded the behaviors amid the experiments. Skinner did believe that behavior is proscribed mechanistically, and swayed him the importance of well proscribed experiments. These were the key foundation to his work in the rest of life. Skinner behaviorism concept became very popular and was used in specific needs; it was mostly applied in teaching technique in difficult situation in a population, autistic children learning.

Skinner committed most of his time in the laboratory performing some tests, collecting and analyzing data on the behavior of rat. His influence in discipline of psychology was as a result of his writing and publication of the concept. He came in the lime light following the article he wrote in 1934, in the article he responded to the story of a lady who had kept her minds on recording of stories, while at the same time she was writing using her hand. It was alleged as away to entrance Freud’s subconscious. Unsurprisingly, skinner did not attempt to veil his contempt for the experiment or of the idea of a subconscious.

Behaviorism concept brought about the impartiality and science technique to psychology, apart from that it presented a glimpse into what would happen if the psychologist loses views of human traits that cannot be observed or calculated. Specialists on mental health should observe the story of behaviorism as away to remind them on how to keep balanced views of both the assessment of objectivity and the doubt of human dignity.

By Mak Muva

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