A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833-1933

By J. C. Flugel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
BEHAVIOURISM AND ANIMAL PSYCHOLOGY--BECHTEREV, PAVLOV, WATSON

CONFIGURATIONISM was a revolt against the excessive appeal to the classical principle of association and the elementarism to which this had given rise. Behaviourism was also a protest--this time against an exaggerated dependence on the classical method of introspection and the consequent tendency to look upon psychology as the science of consciousness. It is true that observation of behaviour had always found a place in psychological literature and had for long been growing increasingly important. But the general view that psychology was concerned primarily with the mind had made it appear as though the objective study of behaviour was rather in the nature of an auxiliary method of but secondary importance, and had led to a tendency to interpret objective observations in terms of consciousness, as though such observations were insufficient in themselves. We have seen how in America there had been from the first a certain distrust of introspection, and a corresponding desire for objective measurement, particularly in connection with the study of individual differences. Behaviourism was the extreme development of this tendency. Its coming was heralded, not only by the general characteristics of American psychology, but also by a tendency to lay more stress on behaviour even in the definition of psychology and in the statement of its aims. Thus in 1905 McDougall (later the most important opponent of behaviourism) had defined psychology as "the positive science of the conduct of living

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