Behaviorism separates into three groups: psychological, philosophical and methodological behaviorism. The psychological behaviorism movement arose in 1913 with the work of John Watson, who wanted a psychology that studies observable behavior. In his book, Psychology from the Standpoint of a Behaviorist, Watson advocated for using reinforcement and conditioning. Watson explained that humans and animals are similar because both their behaviors can be explained without appealing to mental states. His work was influenced by Ivan Pavlov. Watson created the famous experiment Little Albert where he conditioned baby Albert to be afraid of animals. 1
Philosophical behaviorism is form of physicalism. It focuses on philosophy of the mind and opposes Cartesian dualism. They believe the mind is not private and a person’s actions can be explained through their external behavior. They wanted to get rid of the belief as a separate entity. This theory proposes that an individual’s beliefs are a set of behavioral acts. For example, if it is raining a man would carry an umbrella, which is observable. His belief that it is raining equates to sets of behavioral acts such as carrying an umbrella. They believe that you can understand a person’s internal state from his physical form. For example, if a person is happy they would smile. This shows how a person’s private thoughts can be seen on the outside from their behavior. Famous philosophical behaviorists Rudolf Carnap and Carl Gustav Hempel explain how language helps this theory.2 These German philosophers explain, in order to truly understand a person’s behavior you need confirm if it is true. A way to confirm is to communicate with the person. This can be
1 George Graham, “Behaviorism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, March 11, 2015, accessed December 9, 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/.
2 George Graham, “Behaviorism,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, March 11, 2015, accessed December 9, 2017, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/behaviorism/.