Also referred to as the stimulus-response model, this term was coined by the American psychologist John Broadus Watson (1878-1958) in his paper, ‘Psychology as the Behaviorist Sees It’.
It is a theory of animal and human behavior holding that actions can be explained entirely as responses to stimuli; and asserting that observable and measurable behavior is the only suitable material for scientific psychological investigation.
Behaviorism rejects genetically based explanations and (subjective, therefore unreliable) mentalistic concepts such as introspection.
One objection to it is that it is not always clear what counts as behavior, and how far one can give a pure description of behavior without bringing in interpretation.
However, while much of the theory has fallen out of popularity, it continues to have a profound influence in a variety of effectiveness programs in clinical and educational psychology.
Compare with: ETHOLOGY
Also see: BEHAVIOR THERAPY, LAW OF EFFECT, epiphenomenalism, LEARNING THEORY
J B Watson, Behaviorism (1925); D Dewsbury, Comparative Animal Behavior (New York, 1978);
B F Skinner, About Behaviorism (New York, 1974)