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Behavior Analysis and a Modern Psychology

Programs of Direct Action
  • Edward K. Morris

Abstract

Psychology has purportedly undergone two revolutions since becoming a science—one in the first decades of the 20th century, the other a half-century later. These were the behavioral and the cognitive revolutions, respectively. Although behaviorism is now presumably dead and cognitivism ascendant, cognitivism is not today modern in psychology. It is not modern because (a) it is not naturalistic, placing behavior and mind in different ontological categories—material and immaterial; (b) it adheres to a world view better fitted to the physical than the life sciences—mechanism; and (c) it is, ironically, little more than a standard form of behaviorism—methodological behaviorism. Not even behaviorism, though, naturalized psychology, for two reasons. First, where behaviorism was a stimulus-response (S->R) psychology, it was unable to account for purposive or intentional action, especially in language and cognition. Second, although objective, behaviorism has vacillated between being metaphysical and methodological. In metaphysical behaviorism, behavior is what psychology studies, as well as its subject matter, whereas in methodological behaviorism, behavior is what psychology studies, but it is not its subject matter—its subject matter is generically the mind. In the end, mainstream behaviorism became a methodological behaviorism, whose dominant form was, by mid-century, mediational behaviorism (e.g., Hull, Spence, Tolman) where hypothetical constructs (e.g., expectancies, drives) mediated the relation of stimuli to responses in an S->O->R psychology.

Keywords

Natural Science Direct Action American Psychologist Behavior Analysis Ecological Approach 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward K. Morris
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human DevelopmentUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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