Your assignment is to prepare and submit a paper on history of psychology. Over the years, numerous psychologists have made contributions to the field. This paper will seek to identify two psychologists and analyze their contribution to the field. The paper will also examine an issue affecting today’s society and how this issue can be tackled using a psychological theory.
Watson and the Concept of Behaviorism in Psychology
Whereas a number of different psychological concepts and theories were proposed during the 1800s and early 1900s such as structuralism and functionalism, one of the most influential schools of thought in the field of psychology is that of behaviorism. When a functionalism-trained John B. Watson first described a totally new approach to psychology in the form of behaviorism, he is noted to have literally declared war on the establishment. The goals of this new school of thought were to study only the processes and behaviors that were fully observable and totally objective. In the new system described by Watson, there would be no discussion of mental concepts, no introspection, no mentions of consciousness and no study of the mind. In what was a pure scientific approach, Watson only sought to try and study behavior and wanted to make no assumptions beyond what was actually available to the senses. Although behaviorism is noted to have initially had a somewhat slow beginning, it eventually took off in the 1920s and alongside neo-behaviorism, it eventually became the dominant system of psychology for four decades (O’Donohue & Kitchener, 1999).
The concept of behaviorism as proposed by Watson defined what was a relatively narrow field of interest. While proposing the existence of continuity between animals and man such that at various appropriate avenues, the study of animals could be used to understand humans, Watson also dictated that all mentalistic concepts were essentially useless. In this regard, he argued that reasoning, thinking, and cognitive problem solving should not be regarded as psychology’s subject matter because it is not possible to directly observe them. Watson did not deny the existence of these processes, he only stressed that it was not possible to study them under a system of psychology that primarily stressed only the study of directly observable behaviors (O’Donohue & Kitchener, 1999).