BEHAVIORISM (English, behavior or behaviour)—initially a new direction in psychology created by J. B. Watson (1878–1958) concerned with the behavior of animals and humans without the study of psychological phenomena. At present (especially in Anglo-Saxon countries) behaviorism is psychology based on non-introspective methods.

CLASSICAL BEHAVIORISM. Starting in 1913 (J. B. Watson), a new conception of psychology developed in the context of the ideas of scientism that rejected introspection as a non-scientific method. Only the intersubjectively observed behavior of animals and humans can be an object of psychology, or more precisely, only relations of dependence between stimuli (S) and reactions (R). The symbol of classical behaviorism is the schema S-R. Behaviorism rejected the concept of consciousness as an empty term, and it treated the nervous system as a transmitter of impulses. In the theory, if one knows the stimuli, one may predict the reactions, and vice versa, if one knows the reactions, one may describe the character of the stimuli that elicited them.

The sources from which behaviorism developed were C. Darwin’s evolutionism, zoopsychological studies (C. L. Morgan, J. Loeb, E. L. Thorndike), the physiological studies of W. M. Bekhterev and P. Pavlov, and the positivistic conception of science.

Epistemological principles. Behaviorism in all its forms is based on the thesis of radical empiricism, that only sense perfection (external experience) provides true knowledge whereby one may know directly about psychological phenomena.

Ontological principles. (1) Man is an exclusively biological product of evolution (naturalism); (2) the animal and human organism is a system of which all the functions are reactive, and man here is not the subject of his actions (mechanicism); (3) the behavior of animals and humans is precisely causally determined (determinism); (4) man is only a material being; between man and animal there is no essential difference.

We find such an image of man among the natural philosophers in the sixth century BC (Thales, Empedocles, Anaximines, Democritus, etc.); the world, including man, is an aggregate of uniform particles; it is an atomistic and also a static image of man.

In the 1930s a theory of learning (or more precisely, a theory of behavior) developed based on behaviorism. The main authors and representatives were C. L. Hull, E. C. Tolman, E. R. Guthrie, B. F. Skinner, and others. The behavioristic theories of learning may be divided into two groups: (1) those that consider only simple connections of stimulus and reaction (associationist theories); (2) those that emphasize the role of cognitive elements that are subject to modifications under the influence of stimuli (cognitive theories).

TELEOLOGICAL BEHAVIORISM. (goal-oriented, E. C. Tolman)—in the explanation of behavior the striving for an end is very essential; the teleology of an organism’s behavior consists in this, that the organism always strives to satisfy definite needs; the schema S-O-R (S-stimulus, O-organismus, R-reactio).

LOGICAL BEHAVIORISM—the task of psychology as a science is the study of the logical relations between the assertions of the sciences.

OPERATIONISTIC BEHAVIORISM (B. F. Skinner)—the task of psychology is to state the correlations between observations; the psychologist does not explain, but only describes what he observes, and on this basis he predicts what is the probability of defined creations in the organism in response to the presentation of stimuli.

PHYSIOLOGICAL BEHAVIORISM—between the stimulus and the reaction there occur intermediate variables in the form of neurophysiological processes.

Classical behaviorism, which reduces psychological phenomena to the relation of stimulus-reaction (S-R) is regarded as outdated today. It was replaced by neobehaviorism (especially in the USA and England). In the 1950s in America behavioral psychotherapy developed, but in the 1960s the current of cognitive therapy emerged from it. The object that interests psychotherapists is man’s observable behavior. Therapists of a behaviorist orientation hold that one disorder of behavior is the set of maladaptive bad habits formed in the process of learning. Theory is directed at curing the symptoms by techniques based on the fundamental laws of learning; as a result of the application of behavioral techniques new connections between stimuli and reactions are produced.

T. Tomaszewski, Problemy i kierunki współczesnej psychologii [Problems and directions of contemporary psychology], Wwa 1968; I. Kustrzeba, Znak i znaczenie w psychologii behawiorystycznej [Sign and meaning in behaviorist psychology], RF 21 (1973) n. 4, 131–151; Psychoterapia (szkoły, zjawiska, techniki i specyficzne problemy) [Psychotherapy (schools, phenomena, techniques, and specific problems)], Wwa 1994; A. Maryniarczyk, Filozoficzne “obrazy” człowieka a psychologia, CzK 6–7 (1995), 77–99.

Barbara Kiereś

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