A Comparison of the Perspectives of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner on Behavior
Behavioral psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of observable behavior. Theorists in this field seek to explain behavior in terms of environmental factors such as reinforcement and punishment, as well as cognitive factors such as beliefs and expectancies.
John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner are two of the most influential behavioral psychologists in history. Their perspectives on behavior have shaped the way we think about and study human and animal behavior today. In this essay, I will compare and contrast the perspectives of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner on behavior.
2. John B. Watson’s perspective
John B. Watson was one of the earliest and most influential behavioral psychologists. He is best known for his work on conditioning, which he demonstrated using the famous example of Little Albert (Watson & Rayner, 1920).
Watson believed that behavior is determined by its consequences – that is, by what happens immediately after the behavior is performed (Watson, 1930). He believed that all behavior is controlled by external stimuli in the environment, and that there is no such thing as internal mental states such as thoughts, emotions, or intentions.
Watson also believed that all human behavior is learned through classical conditioning – that is, by pairing a neutral stimulus (such as a sound) with an emotionally- charged stimulus (such as a rat) until the neutral stimulus itself elicits an emotional response (Watson & Rayner, 1920). He further believed that all behavior could be explained in terms of conditioning – that there are no innate or inherited behaviors in humans or animals (Watson, 1930).
3. B.F. Skinner’s perspective
B.F. Skinner was another influential behavioral psychologist who made important contributions to the field with his work on operant conditioning – that is, learning through consequences (Skinner, 1938).
Skinner believed that all behavior is determined by its consequences – that is, by what happens immediately after the behavior is performed (Skinner, 1953). He argued that reinforcemeIt should be noted that Tolman also conducted some research into cognitive maps nt (rewarding a desired behavior) increases the likelihood of that behavior being repeated, while punishment (punishing an undesired behavior) decreases the likelihood of it being repeated.
Skinner also believed that all human behavior is learned through operant conditioning – that is, by linking desired behaviors with positive outcomes (reinforcement) and undesired behaviors with negative outcomes (punishment) (Skinner, 1938). He did not believe in innate or inherited behaviors, arguing instead that all behavior is acquired through learning (Skinner, 1953).
4. Comparison and contrast of the perspectives of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner
One major similarity between the perspectives of John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner is their belief that all human behavior is learned through conditioning – either classical conditioning or operant conditioning respectively – and that there are no innate behaviors in humans or animals. Both theorists also believed thatbehavior is determined by its consequences – what happens immediately after thebehavioris performed – and that environmental factors such as reinforcementand punishment play a major role in determining behaviour.
There are also several key differences between Watson’s and Skinner’s perspectives. One major difference is that Watson believed that all behavior is controlled by external stimuli in the environment, while Skinner believed that some behavior is under the control of the individual – that is, it can be self-regulated. Another key difference is that Watson focused on classical conditioning, while Skinner focused on operant conditioning. Finally, Watson believed that thoughts and emotions are not real – that they are simply products of conditioning – while Skinner believed that thoughts and emotions are real but they do not cause behaviour.
In conclusion, John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner were two influential behavioral psychologists who made important contributions to the field with their work on conditioning. Although their perspectives on behavior share some similarities, there are also several key differences between them.