10 - The concept of behaviour Flashcards Preview

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1

What was John B. Watson's magnum opus and when was it published?

"Psychology as the Behaviourist Sees It". Published in 1913.

2

How did Watson define psychology?

As the science of the behaviour of living organisms.

3

Why should mental states not be part of psychology, according to Watson?

Because they're not observable. If you exclude consciousness from psychology, nothing is lost.

4

What does Watson's behaviourism have in common with Logical Positivism?

Watson believed that mental states are unobservable and thus cannot be part of the science of psychology. Logical Positivists believed that any concept which cannot be tested empirically, i.e. via observation, is metaphysical nonsense and should be excluded from science.

In both cases, anything that cannot be observed and measured is excluded from science. (Unless it's axiomatic).

5

What did Watson mean by 'behaviour'?

What animals do – sequences of bodily movements or reflexes, which he called habits.

"A complex system of reflexes which function in a serial order when the organism is confronted by certain stimuli".

6

Why is Watson's idea of behaviour inconsistent with the way behaviour is usually referred to?

We don't describe behaviour in terms of bodily movements, but in terms of environmental effects – e.g. eating food, taking a photo.

Many different movements can bring about the same environmental effect.

7

How did Skinner address the problem of Watson's equating behaviour with bodily movements?

The whole class of bodily movements involved in "doing X" (e.g. eating dinner) can be defined as "any set of movements that bring X about"

8

What is the problem with Skinner's definition of behaviour as "any set of movements that brings X about"?

In describing a behaviour, reference is made to something that the bodily movements bring about. The reference is usually to the consequence that the organism intended. Imagine a frightened rat trying to escape the Skinner box but falls on the bar. Was it involved in bar-pressing? Or was it trying to escape?
OR Taking a photograph accidentally on a cell phone.

So... doing X usually refers to the intended outcomes as a consequence of the bodily movements. The movements themselves are ambiguous.

9

Given that bodily movements are ambiguous, what must we know in order to define behaviour?

The intended outcome as a result of bodily movement. In order to know what someone is doing, you need to know the belief that is guiding their bodily movements.

10

Why is behaviour a cognitive concept?

In order to know what someone is doing, you need to know the belief that is guiding their bodily movements. Otherwise you're describing movement, not behaviour.

11

Behaviour can be defined as "_______ causing ________ effects via ________ movements."

Behaviour can be defined as "beliefs causing environmental effects via bodily movements."

12

In describing a behaviour, reference is usually made to the ___________ that the organism intended.

In describing a behaviour, reference is usually made to the consequence that the organism intended.

13

In order to know what someone is doing, you need to know ___________ _____ ________ _________.

In order to know what someone is doing, you need to know the beliefs guiding their movements.

14

What might be the form of the thought that guides bodily movements?

Bodily movements of kind M in context C bring about an effect of kind X.

15

Without a belief about the consequences of its movements, what would an organism be doing?

Nothing in particular.

16

Any item of behaviour involves three components, each of which is necessary...

1. Sequence of bodily movements; 2. Environmental effect; 3. Guiding thought or belief.

17

In the new definition of behaviour as belief-mediated action, are reflexes behaviour?

No, reflexes are not something we do, they are something that happens TO US as a response to a stimulus. Reflexes are not mediated by belief, so are not behaviour.

18

Is driving home on autopilot not behaviour because we have no awareness of the beliefs guiding the behaviour?

Yes, it's behaviour. There is a distinction between having a belief and being aware of having a belief. Guiding thoughts may be unconscious. You may be unaware that you're aware.

19

Why is being aware that you're aware of something not logically necessary for being aware of it?

If it WERE necessary, an infinite regress would follow. If in being aware, you have to be aware that we are aware, you have to be aware of being aware of being aware. This would imply that each act of knowing involved an indefinite number of such acts.

20

Why is behaviour not only cognitive, but also environmental?

Because not everyone behaves the same in the same environment. Behaviour is a human-environment interaction.

21

What is the environment in a human-environment system?

Never just the immediate physical environment – it also involves the person's past, their culture and elements in the history of that culture. THIS SOUNDS DODGY TO ME. THE CULTURE ETC. ARE JUST PART OF THE HUMAN

22

How is it possible to argue that the cognitive aspects of behaviour ARE observable?

Because the cognitive component is what allows us to make sense of the behaviour qua behaviour – without it we are just observing movement. We may be wrong about the belief underlying the behaviour – e.g. someone may be stretching neck, rather than looking for a lost coin –  but if we ARE right, then we are observing a cognitive act.

23

To what extent is behaviour a causal process?

It is the process of cognition bringing about environmental effects via bodily movements.

24

Why could it be argued that behaviour cannot be directly observed?

Because to observe a behaviour, you must observe the cognition underlying the movement.

25

How did Lashley's (1929) experiments with rats in a T-maze prove that animals' complex bodily movements are not built up out of reflexes?

He trained rats to reach food in a T-maze by turning right. Following brain surgery the animals were no longer able to turn right because parts of the brain controlling right-hand turns were destroyed. However, the rats still reached food but now they did so by turning 270° left at the T-junction. This shows that the rats had learned, not a sequence of movements, but a fact about the T-maze, viz., where food was.

What is learned (i.e., beliefs) brings about environmental changes via bodily movements.