Abstract This paper explores the life and achievements of John Broadus Watson. He was a famous psychologist known as the Father of Behaviorism. Watson was best known for his views and theories known as behaviorism. Watson is also known for comparative and experimental psychology, and perhaps his most famous experiment, the Little Albert Experiment. On February 24, 1913, he delivered a famous lecture that is believed to be the birth of behaviorism. Watson’s experiments and publications made major impacts on the world of psychology, changing the views and ideas of not only psychologist worldwide, but as well as the people of the world.
Many of Watson’s concepts and methods of conditioning and behavioral modification are still used by psychologist today. Throughout the history of psychology, there have been many influential psychologists. Each of these psychologists left their own individual and unique mark in psychology and the world in general. A psychologist is clinically defined as a person who studies the mind and behavior and specializes in diagnosing and using “talk therapy” in treating emotional disturbances, mental illnesses, and behavioral problems. One of the many influential psychologists in American psychology is John B. Watson, Father of Behaviorism.
Watson is best known for his life, behaviorism, career achievements and Little Albert Experiment. John Watson was born January 9, 1878, in South Carolina to Emma and Pickens Watson. His mother, Emma, was a very religious person; however, his father did not share these same general views of life. Pickens was an alcoholic and participated in extra marital affairs. He left in 1891, Watson was 13 years old. Watson was determined to follow in his father’s unruly footsteps, became rebellious and even violent at times. Watson claimed to be a poor and disorderly student; nevertheless he entered Furman University at the age of 16.
Five years later he received his masters and continued to further his education. Watson entered the University of Chicago seeking a doctorate in psychology and philosophy. During his studies here, me met and married his first wife Mary Ikes. The two had two children during their marriage, John and Mary. Watson graduated from the University of Chicago in 1903, receiving his PhD in psychology. Five years later Watson was selected to be the professor of comparative and experimental psychology at John Hopkins University. Just as his father, Watson too participated in extra martial affairs.
While teaching at John Hopkins, he met Rosalie Rayner. It wasn’t long that John and Mary divorced and Rayner and Watson were wed. Together they had two children, William and James. It was also at John Hopkins University where Watson formed his views, ideas and theories that would later become known as branch of psychology known as behaviorism. Watson specifically outlined his view of behaviorism during his lecture on February 24, 1913, at John Hopkins. This is said to be the day behaviorism was born. This lecture also became known as one of psychology’s most famous lectures. Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist’s total scheme of investigation. p. 158]” Rather emphasizing on the internal mental state of a person, Watson put his emphases on the external behavior and reaction to the given situation. Watson believed that evaluating reactions and external behaviors of a person was the only true way to receive insight of human actions. These new ideas became known as the behaviorists theory. Another example of Watsons stand point on behaviorism can be felt through his article in the Psychological Review, Watson stated, Behaviorism … holds that the subject matter of human psychology is the behavior of the human being.
Behaviorism claims that consciousness is neither a definite nor a usable concept. The behaviorist … holds, further, that belief in the existence of consciousness goes back to the ancient days of superstition and magic…. The great mass of people even today has not yet progressed very far away from savagery – it wants to believe in magic…. Almost every era has its new magic, black or white, and its new magician. Moses had his magic: he smote the rock and water gushed out. Christ had his magic: he turned water into wine and raised the dead to life….
The extent to which most of us are shot through with a savage background is almost unbelievable…. One example of such a religious concept is that every individual has a soul which is separate and distinct from the body…. No one has ever touched a soul, or seen one in a test tube, or has in any way come into relationship with it as he has with the other objects of his daily experience …. The behaviorist asks: Why don’t we make what we can observe the real field of psychology? Let us limit ourselves to things that can be observed, and formulate laws concerning only those things.
Now what can we observe? We can observe behavior – what the organism does or says. And let us point out at once: that saying is doing – that is, behaving…. The rule, or measuring rod, which the behaviorist puts in front of him always is: Can I describe this bit of behavior I see in terms of “stimulus and response”? By stimulus we mean any object in the general environment or any change in the tissues themselves due to the physiological condition of the animal, such as the change we get when we keep an animal from sex activity, when we keep it from feeding, when we keep it from building a nest.
By response we mean anything the animal does – such as turning toward or away from a light, jumping at a sound, and more highly organized activities such as building a skyscraper, drawing plans, having babies, writing books, and the like …. The interest of the behaviorist in man’s doings is more than the interest of the spectator – he wants to control man’s reactions as physical scientists want to control and manipulate other natural phenomena. It is the business of behavioristic psychology to be able to predict and to control human activity ….
Why do people behave as they do – how can I, as a behaviorist, working in the interests of science, get individuals to behave differently today from the way they acted yesterday? How far can we modify behavior by training (conditioning)? These are some of the major problems of behavioristic psychology. Watsons early studies were of animal behavior, he later changed to human subjects. Watson wanted to develop a method to “condition and control the emotions of human subjects. This famous study became known as the Little Albert Experiment.
This case study gained information from classical conditioning in humans. Watson, along with his assistant, Rosalie Rayner, observed an eight month old boy, known as “Little Albert,” reactions as he was introduced to different stimuli. Among these stimuli were a white rabbit, a rat, a monkey, burning papers and a mask. In the beginning “Little Albert” showed no behavioral changes. Next time he placed the rat in front of the young boy, Watson produced a loud sound, and naturally “Little Albert” began to cry.
Each time “Little Albert” was exposed to the rat from then on, Watson received the same reaction, crying. Watson (1920) “The instant the rat was shown, the baby began to cry. Almost instantly he turned sharply to the left, fell over on [his] left side, raised himself on all fours and began to crawl away so rapidly that he was caught with difficulty before reaching the edge of the table. [p. 1-14]” Watson and Rayner, discovered that classical conditioning could be used to created phobias. Watson’s focus on the study of children, began in the The Century of the Child, this referred to the 20th century movement. Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select–doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years. ” From the book Watson wrote, Psychological Care of Infant and Child, with the assistance of Rayner.
Watson’s argument was, “not more babies but better brought up babies. ” He argued the nurture side of the nurture versus nature debate. Watson’s second wife, Rosalie Rayner, died in 1935, at the age of 35. The two were married for fourteen years. During their marriage, they gave birth to two children, James and William. After Rayners death, Watson remained on their farm in Connecticut. In 1957, Watson received a Gold Medal from the American Psychological Association, for all his contributions to psychology. One year later, on September 25 1958, Watson passed away at the age of 80.
John Broadus Watson was a renowned psychologist that made many contributions to psychology. Among these contributions were the branch of psychology known has and the Little Albert Experiment, along with many other publications and lectures. After the Little Albert Experiment, behaviorism became widely accepted by psychologist and the general public. Watson’s radical views and theories forever changed psychology. . References Watson, E. (1999). John B. Watson (1878-1958). Retrieved October 20, 2012 from http://www. muskingum. edu/~psych/psycweb/history/watson. htm#Bibliography (1999). Little Albert Experiment.
Retrieved October 20, 2012 from http://www. absoluteastronomy. com/topics/Little_Albert_experiment (1999). Behaviorism in Watson’s Own Words. Retrieved October 18 2012 from http://www. sntp. net/behaviorism. htm Taken from Blumenfeld, S. L. (January 1, 1984) NEA: Trojan horse in American psychology chapter 9 Cherry, K. (2012). The Little Albert Experiment: A closer look at the famous case of Little Albert. Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://psychology. about. com/od/classicpsychologystudies/a/little-albertexperiment. htm Cherry, K. (2012). John Watson Biography (1878-1958). Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://psychology. bout. com/od/profilesofmajorthinkers/p/watson. htm Watson, J. B. ; Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1, pp. 1–14. Retrieved October 14, 2012 from http://psychclassics. yorku. ca/Watson/emotion. htm Watson, J. B. (1913). Psychology as a behaviorist views it. First published in Psychological Review, 20, 158-177. Retrieved October 14, 2012 from http://psychclassics. yorku. ca/Watson/views. htm Wozniak, R. H. (1997) Behaviorism: The early years. Retrieved October 14, 2012 from http://www. brynmawr. edu/psychology/rwozniak/behaviorism. html