Behaviorism and Its Brief History

Behaviorism_WordleBehaviorism or behavrioal psychology is the school of thought in psychology that sought to measure only observable behaviors of individuals in an effort to find out its relationship with behavioral and learning processes. It was founded by John B. Watson who then believed that behaviors can be measured, trained, and changed.


Now let’s take a quick glance on some of the important milestones of the solid foundation of Behaviorism.

  • 1863

Ivan Sechenov‘s “Reflexes of the Brain” was published

-Sechenov introduced the concept of inhibitory responses in the central nervous system

-According to his published written works, our mind has the innate capacity to react “automatically” in response to several stimuli that for the most part serve as protective mechanisms of our body


  • 1900

Ivan Pavlov began studying the salivary response and other reflexes

-More importantly, Pavlov was able to devise and enrich the so-called Classical Conditioning which provided the public indispensable information about the role of unconditioned and conditioned stimuli in eliciting different behaioral responses amongtypes-of-behav the learners


  • 1913

John Watson‘s “Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It” was published

-The said article outlined many of the main points of behaviourism that made behaviorists’ stand in their proposed theoretical concepts more solid and understandable


  • 1920

littlealbertexp001-Watson and assistant Rosalie Rayner conducted the famous “Little Albert” experimentwhereby conditioning of stimulus is also demonstrated like what Pavlov has done in his classical conditioning experiment.

-Basically, Watson and Rayner used a little boy at around 9 months of age where a white rat was presented in association with a loud tone. Because a sudden loud noise usually makes an infant cry, then after a period of time of pairing, the rat alone could produce same response when originally not capable of producing such.

  • 1943

Clark Hull’s Principles of Behavior was published

-In addition to the early works of other proponents of behaviourism, Hull added some of the most important principles that better served as guide in understanding more of human behavior 16502496-abstract-word-cloud-for-behaviorism-with-related-tags-and-terms

  • 1948

B.F. Skinner published Walden II in which he described a utopian society founded upon behaviorist principles

-Likewise, Skinner was then noted for developing Operant Conditioning (actually first proposed by Thorndike) which emphasized the importance and role of reinforcements and punishments in the development of several behavior

-He then proposed that those acts that were rewarded tend to be developed faster and those that were punished tend to fade away and disappear


  • 1959

Noam Chomsky published his criticism of Skinner’s behaviorism, “Review of Verbal Behavior”

-Since behaviourism pointed out the importance of observable behaviors only, critics of the theory mentioned its superficiality in the studying of complex and diverse human behavior


  • 1971

Behaviorism_2-B.F. Skinner published his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, in which he argued that free will, is an illusion

-In this particular book, he argued that much of the motivation or desire to do something comes from the external environment that encourages one to do so, in contrast to free will which is something that comes from within. According to him, employing observable and concrete reinforcements (tokens) is far better than relying on one’s innate desire to do a course of action


As we can see, behaviourism like all other theories had tremendous era of development and criticisms that made it more succinct and powerful. Every theorist who contributed in this school of thought has exerted much dedication and intelligence to produce a more convincing body of knowledge. And in today’s world, their significance and influences remain indispensable most especially inbehaviorism the fields of psychology and education.



Kendra, Cherry . The Little Albert Experiment. Retrieved June 30, 2013 from


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