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Glossary

Behaviourism

A school of PSYCHOLOGY founded in the United States by J.B.WATSON in 1913 as a reaction against a prevailing (European) emphasis on the CONSCIOUS examination of the contents of the MIND (see WUNDT). Watson believed that the work of PAVLOV on CONDITIONING represented the future of psychology. He believed that the interest in the mind and CONSCIOUSNESS should be pushed aside, and psychology deal solely with the OBJECTIVE study and manipulation of human and animal behaviour. Watson is now generally regarded by psychologists as much too extreme and simple-minded, having been superseded by B.F. SKINNER and other more subtle theorists.

Nevertheless, the crucial emphasis on observable behaviour remains and flourishes. In a sense, every psychologist who performs an EXPERIMENTcan be called a behaviourist in fact, if not in theory. For cultural and historical reasons, Behaviourism has continued to flourish more in the United States than elsewhere.

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