Behaviorism & Gestalt Psychology in America

The Rise of Behaviorism

Inroads from Functionalism and Neo-realism (MTC)
Inroads from Comparative psychology: Neo-Darwinism

Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949): Connectionism  

1911 - Animal Intelligence: Escape Puzzle boxes for food

Learning by "trial and error" not by "reason"

Statistical measures of behavior are useful


Russian Physiology and biological psychology

Ivan Michailovich Sechenov (1829-1905)  
Studied under Helmholtz: 
  All action and thought is based on reflexes

Ivan P. Pavlov (1849-1936): Classical Conditioning

 Psychical secretions (conditional responses) occur as a result of the association of stimuli and reflexive responses 

UCS -> UCR  
(CS) -> (CR)

    Tower of Silence: Ultimate control over vibration, noise, temperature & odors


Vladimir Michailovitch Bechterev (1867-1927)
Studied under Wundt  
Reflexology: Extended Pavlov's conditioning to striated muscles (motor responses) including speech


John Broadus Watson (1878-1958): Behaviorist Manifesto!  

Didn't understand Dewey and was not skilled at introspection

1913 - Psychology as a Behaviorist views it

Criticized introspection: Empirically, philosophically, practically

Natural Science techniques require reproducible results
Cannot define and answer clear questions
Introspection has no "practical applications"

 Proposed a psychology build upon animal studies which never uses "mentalistic" terms

 Peripheralism : Thinking is "implicit behavior" or "sub-vocal speech"

 Emotional reactions are the result of the conditioning of only three basic types of response: fear, rage, or love.

Child-Rearing should be done with care "Given me a dozen healthy infants..."

Scandal: - Replaced and copied J.M.Baldwin at John Hopkins 1908-1920   Letter

 1921 - Joined J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and worked his way up from Mail Room. Also observed salemen to learn their methods.

Later joined other advertising firms and used classical conditioning to connect emotions to various products into the 1950s.

 1924 - Mary Cover Jones pioneered the reconditioning of emotional responses, a precursor to systematic desensitization

 1929 - Watson debated with William McDougall over instincts


Karl Lashley (1890-1958): No localization!

Law of Mass Action:The efficiency of learning is a function of the total mass of brain. Discovered through extirpation studies.

 Equipotentiality:A principle that suggests all parts of the cortex are involved in any type of learning

  Defined two types of behaviorism: Methodological and Strict  
        Methodological behaviorism: Consciousness may or does exist but is not suitable for scientific study

Radical (Strict) behaviorism: Consciousness does not exist, there is only behavior

Critical history: Politics and social action ? 

Gestalt Psychology: The Challenge of Holism

Kant, Ehrenfels, & Meinong: Unity and holism of perception
Mach: Sensationism of space-forms and time-forms
Stumpf: phenomenology of tones

Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) father of Gestalt Psychology

From toy stroboscope to tachistoscope
The phi phenomenon(1912): Perception of apparent motion

Gestalt qualitaten: Form qualities of melodic transposition, and shape constancy; figure and ground

Principles of perceptual organization: Holism

1921 - Psychologische Forschung: Journal for gestalt until 1938

1945 - Productive thinking: "Top-Down" understanding (E=MC2)
  Apprehension of relations - Meaningful insight & understanding VS. "senseless" conditioning

 Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) Brought Gestalt to the forefront in USA

Studied in Edinburgh then under Stumpf at Berlin

WWI worked with brain damaged aphasics  

1921 - The growth of the mind: Developmental psychology

1922 - Psychological Bulletin: Perception: An introduction to gestalt theory

1935 - Principles of Gestalt psychology: What is psychology? Science, Critique of the behavioral environment Thinking, Philosophy, Learning

Developed Wertheimer's concept of
 Isomorphism: The principle of similarity in functional or structural relationships. Brain involves isomorphic
representations of external reality - Physical Gestalten - .... 'neural nets'

A Molar approach to the brain and physiology, using field theory from physics


Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967)
 New Insights into Gestalt 

Studied physics under Max Plank

WWI - Tenerife, Canary Islands: Studied chimpanzees

1917 - Mentality of Apes
: Spontaneous apprehension of relationships into a whole situation
Problem solving is a matter of reorganizing the perceptual field (paradigm)

1935 - Fled from Nazi's to USA: Swarthmore college

1938 - The place of value in a world of facts


Kurt Lewin (1890-1947): Field theory & Social Dynamics

Studied at Berlin with Stumpf then fled to USA in 1932

Life Space: Entire field of personal experience; including past, present & future self and objects
-impact if conscious awareness or not (unconscious)

Hodological Space: Representation of life space using vectors and valences
- contains regions & barriers, has a 'permeable membrane is the totality of life (B=f(p,e)

Model has impact on the development of Cultural Psychology by Michael Cole (1996).

  1944 - Research Center for Group Dynamics at MIT

Sensitivity training: T-groups later became encounter groups

Many big names in 1960's social psychology: Festinger, Likert, Schacter Resolving Social Conflcits: Selected Papers (1948)

 Action Research - not just collect data but contribute to social change

Gestalts of Group involve: persons ---whole groups--individual change