Behaviorism: A Conceptual Reconstruction

By G. E. Zuriff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Complex Processes

Behaviorists interpret thinking in a variety of ways. Under one interpretation, thought is construed as an intervening variable. As such it is not to be identified with specific episodes such as verbal responses. Under a second interpretation, thinking is a hypothetical construct consisting of mediational processes such as implicit trial and error or covert verbal behavior. Under a third interpretation, thinking consists of precurrent behavior which changes environmental variables so that subsequent problem solving behavior is more likely to occur.

Cognitivism argues that these behaviorist attempts to account for thinking are inadequate. It claims that an adequate theory must postulate internal representations and transformations. However, a consideration of three kinds of findings held as evidence for these internal events shows their postulation is not necessary. In each case behavior can be explained as a function of the environment, given that complex functions are permitted and that a history of interaction with an organism is accepted as a property of an environment.

Cognitivism's insistence on information-processing constructs stems from its internalism which requires temporal contiguity and identity functions in causality and reference to changes in the organism in an explanation. Behaviorism's rejection of in formation-processing constructs stems from its claim that these constructs divert attention away from behavior, the environment, and the long conditioning history responsible for the construct. Behaviorists also object to the intensionality of information- processing constructs.

The conceptual framework of S-R psychology described in the preceding chapters is associated with a research program concerned primarily with the relatively simple behavior of lower organisms. It is assumed either that the elementary principles discovered at the simple level can be synthesized to explain complex behavior, or that the elementary principles will serve a heuristic function in the eventual study of complex human behavior, which may require a different set of principles. 1 I shall examine various behaviorist at-

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Behaviorism: A Conceptual Reconstruction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 General Overview 1
  • Part I the Science 11
  • Chapter 2 Observation: the Case Against Introspection 13
  • Conclusion 28
  • Chapter 3: The Behavioral Data Language 29
  • Chapter 4 Theoretical Concepts 55
  • Chapter 5: Theorizing 81
  • Part II Behavior 97
  • Chapter 6 S-R 99
  • Conclusion 117
  • Chapter 7: The Organization of Behavior 119
  • Chapter 8: Complex Processes 150
  • Part III Mind 173
  • Conclusion 199
  • Chapter 10: Behavioral Interpretation 201
  • Chapter 11 First-Person Reports 225
  • Conclusion 248
  • Chapter 12: Behavioral Epistemology 250
  • Notes 279
  • References Cited 317
  • Index 363
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