TB3 Lecture 1; American Behaviourist Tradition Notes

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  • Created on: 07-05-15 20:07

William James (1842-1910); Empiricist Tradition

  • WJ created foundations of the 'Empiricist Traditon', the view that the mind is a 'blank state' that future events act upon.
  • Also known for the foundations of Associationism, the theory of how events become cognitively associated. The main concepts of Associationism are;
    • Contingency; A occurs with B both spatially and temporally; A and B become associated (e.g pillows and bed are seen together, the objects become associated with each other).
    • Frequency; B following A occurs frequently, the two events become associated. (e.g rain following storm clouds)
    • Reinforcement; The type of response a SR bond receives governs whether this behaviour will be repeated.
  • Associationism dictates that learning occurs by these core processes.
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Thorndike (1864-1949); Stimulus Response/Effect

  • Offered a mechanical explanation as to the adaptability of animal behaviour.
  • Stated that there are two 'laws' crucial to learning.
    • The Law of Effect, a basic principle of behaviourism stating that if responding B to A yields pleasurable consequences, the animal will be likely to repeat this behaviour. In this way the animal learns responses to things that are rewarding and in a similar way, 'loses' responses to responses that bring punishment.
    • The Law of Exercise, the more often a given situation is followed by a particular response, the stronger the associative bond will be between them
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Watson (1913); Radical Behaviourism

  • Stated that all facets of mental functioning yield to behavioural analysis.
  • Behaviourism, in it's original conception revolves around testing observable behaviour. Therefore, when referring to psychology as a science of testing observable behaviour, it should be limited to the discussion of stimuli, responses and physiological data. This would ensure that psychology only deals with observable and testable material.
    • However with this view, there can be no discussion of mental causation...
    • Similarly this view would posit that if anything produces testable/observeable data, it can be studied 'scientifically'.
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Skinner (1930-1945); Operant conditioning

  • Skinner stated that all explanations of behaviour are descriptions of environmental histories.
    • With complete control of environmental events, you could accurately predict and control behaviour.
    • Based on the view that very simple behavioural techniques 'create' comparatively complex behaviours.
  • Operant conditioning states lawful correlations between stimuli and their responses.
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