[From English behavior: the manner in which a person, animal, or thing acts, either characteristically or in particular circumstances.]
(psychology) The doctrine that only a person's or animal's externally observed ways of acting provide legitimate data for the study of psychology. As originally formulated by John D. Watson in 1913, behaviorism was a methodological principle defined in order to pursue scientific objectivity in psychology. However, the behaviorist movement (pushed forward by prominent psychologists such as B.F. Skinner and influenced by scientific operationalism) soon came to dismiss any internal states, mental phenomena, or higher-order emergent properties of living beings. The result was a kind of reductionism, materialism, or even automatism applied to animal and human activity, which in its more radical forms did not even seek to reduce consciousness to stimulus-response interactions, but simply ignored mental phenomena altogether. From the 1960s onwards, behaviorism has been supplanted by psychological cognitivism and more recently by evolutionary psychology.
The Ism Book by Peter Saint-Andre
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