Control: A History of Behavioral Psychology by John A. Mills

By John A. Mills

Behaviorism has been the dominant strength within the construction of recent American psychology. even though, the unquestioned and unquestioning nature of this dominance has obfuscated the complexity of behaviorism. keep watch over serves as an antidote to this ancient myopia, delivering the main finished background of behaviorism but written. generators effectively balances the research of person theorists and their contributions with research of the constructions of assumption which underlie all behaviorist psychology, and with behaviorism's position as either writer and creature of bigger American highbrow styles, practices, and values. additionally, generators offers a cogent critique of behaviorists' slender attitudes towards human motivation, exploring how their positivism cripples their skill to account for the unobservable, internal elements that keep an eye on habit. Control's combination of historical past and feedback advances our realizing not just of behaviorism, but additionally the improvement of social technology and positivism in twentieth-century the United States.

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And in a letter two years earlier Meyer had said that when he arrived in Amer­ ica, “I was then already a behaviorist, although I did not know the English language had such a word. When a subject said, ‘That noise must be . ”49 In 1900 Meyer was appointed to the University of Missouri and ap­ pears to have developed his behaviorist theories partly in an attempt to acculturate himself shortly after he arrived in America. He wrote, “I had to teach psychology to college students. I conceived of psy­ chology as the science of learning; I conceived of learning as conduc­ tivity change .

In the neo-Galtonian ap­ proach, the individual became the interactive locus of a number of independent variables, each of which could be manipulated in isolation from the others. Control, as I have already said, was effectively removed from the individual subject and assigned to the investigator. The investigator, in his turn, became a manipulator because, given the equation of science with technology current both within and outside psychology at the time, knowledge was assumed to be derived from action rather than understanding or contemplation, and only those manipulations that had some likelihood of producing socially useful consequences were considered worthwhile.

In the case of his theory of value, Skinner’s novel Walden Two is the crucial Introduction | 21 text. It expresses certain fundamental views about human nature that he imbibed as a young man. Skinner’s work is a portrayal, in a seem­ ingly scientific form, of the beliefs about human nature and its place in society held by American intellectuals in the early years of this cen­ tury. In chapter 6 I will assess behaviorism’s role both as creator and creature of intellectual patterns, societal practices and purposes, and values in America.

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