The two main types of behaviourism, only one of which – logical
behaviourism – is a philosophical theory. The other theory
– psychological behaviourism – grew out of the theories
of American psychologists J. B. Watson and B. F. Skinner. Psychological
behaviourism attempts to predict and control human behaviour by
studying the stimuli needed to produce certain responses.
Perhaps the most famous example of a behaviourist experiment is
the one conducted by the Russian scientist I. P. Pavlov (1849 -
1936). In the experiment, Pavlov fed some dogs whilst simultaneously
ringing a bell. Eventually, Pavlov discovered, the dogs came to
associate the bell ringing with being fed and began to salivate.
In this way, one stimulus (the food) could be replaced with another
which otherwise had no connection with it (the bell) in order to
produce the same reaction (salivation).
Psychological behaviourism is therefore mainly concerned with accounting
for human behaviour in terms of stimulus and response. However,
it is also interested in the methods involved in conditioning and
predicting the outcome of stimuli. From this point of view, although
it has something to say about the relation of mind and body, it
is not really its main concern.
behaviourism, on the other hand, is not really interested in conditioning
or the methods of stimulus and response, but in explaining mental
concepts in terms of physical descriptions. So, although there is
a similarity of approach, the distinction between the two is basically
that the one is a philosophical description whilst the other is
a psychological one. Hopefully, this distinction will become clearer
as we continue.