chapter  8
69 Pages

Behaviorism

ByBrian D. Cox

Behaviorism seems, like functionalism, to be a quintessentially American school of psychology. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was the son of a Russian Orthodox priest in the small town of Ryazan, Russia. Before leaving Germany, Pavlov studied briefly in the laboratory of gastric researcher R. P. H. Heidenhain, himself a student of Emil du Bois-Reymond. The concept of tropism explains why a moth goes toward a flame. Reducing such goal-directed behavior to physiochemical terms is the first step in getting rid of mentalistic concepts like “the will,” and a step in the direction of behaviorism. Behaviorism is an optimistic credo, and John B. Watson’s emphasis on environment as a determining factor would likely resonate to his class of striving, self-improving New Yorkers and Americans at large. Pavlov came to behaviorism from the positivistic stance of physiology, and Watson came to behaviorism as a reaction against consciousness per se.