Chapter 13-Neobehaviorism Flashcards Preview

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The philosophy of science according to which theoretical concepts are inadmissible if they are tied to the observable world through operational definitions

Logical positivism


According to logical positivism, terms that refer to empirical events

Observational terms


According to logical positivism, those terms that are employed to explain empirical observations

Theoretical terms


Describe logical positivism and its historical origins, including the positions of Comte, Mach, and the Vienna Circle

Logical positivism was proposed as a solution to finding a way for science to use theory without encountering the dangers inherent in metaphysical speculation to describe such concepts that were being discovered as gravity, magnetism, atom, force, electron, and mass indispensable which could not be observed directly

The ultimate authority for the logical positivist was empirical observation, and theories were considered useful only if they helped explain what was observed

Comte- individual and group behavior can and should be studied scientifically and he coined the the term sociology to describe such a study

Mach- argued that all we can be certain of is our sensations which form the ultimate subject matter for all sciences. Introspection was essential

Vienna circle- came up with the view of science called logical positivism and took the older positivism of Conte and Mach and combined it with the rigors of formal logic. For them, abstract theoretical terms were allowed only if such terms could be logically tied to empirical observations


A definition that relates an abstract concept to the procedures used to measure it

Operational definition


The belief that all abstract scientific concepts should be operationally defined



A belief growing out of logical positivism that all sciences should share common assumptions, principles, and methodologies and should model themselves after physics



Agreed with older forms of behaviorism that overt behavior should be psychology's subject matter but disagreed that theoretical speculation concerning abstract entities must be avoided. Such speculation was accepted providing that the theoretical terms employed are operationally defined and lead to testable predictions about overt behavior



Describe neobehaviorism and it's historical origins

Resulted when behaviorism was combined with logical positivism.

Tend to believe the following:
- if theory is used, it must be used in ways demanded by logical positivism
- all theoretical terms must be operationally defined
- nonhuman animals should be used as research subjects for two reasons: relevant variables are easier to control than they are for human subjects, and perceptual and learning process is occurring in nonhuman animals differ only in degree from those processes in humans; therefore, the information gained from nonhuman animals can be generalized to humans
- The learning process is of prime importance because it is the primary mechanism by which organisms adjust to changing environments


Created a brand of behaviorism that used mental constructs and emphasized purposive behavior. Although he employed many intervening variables, his most important was the cognitive map

Edward Chace Tolman


According to Tolman, a small segment of behavior such as a reflex or a habit that is isolated for study

Molecular behavior


According to Tolman, behavior that is directed toward some goal and that terminates when the goal is attained

Purposive behavior. He called purposive behavior molar behavior to contrast it with molecular behavior.


The type of behaviorism Tolman pursued, which emphasizes molar rather than molecular behavior

Purposive behaviorism


Describe Tolman's use of rats in his research

Well teaching comparative psychology, his interest was stimulated in the rat as an experimental subject. He saw the use of rats as a way of guarding against even the possibility of indirect introspection that could occur if humans were used as experimental subjects. He dedicated his book purposive behavior to the white rat


According to Tolman, events believed to occur between environmental and behavioral events. Although they cannot be observed directly, they are thought to be causally related to behavior. Hull's habit strength and Tolman's cognitive map are examples

Intervening variables

By introducing the use of intervening variables, Tolman brought abstract scientific theory into psychology.
To account fully for the behavior, one has to know both the environmental events and the internal or intervening events that they initiate. The most important intervening variables he postulated are cognitive are mental in nature


According to Tolman, an expectancy that occurs during the early stages of learning



According to Tolman, the apparent pondering of behavioral choices in a learning situation

Vicarious trial and error


According to Tolman, a hypothesis that has been tentatively confirmed



According to Tolman, an expectation that experience has consistently confirmed



According to Tolman, the mental representation of the environment

Cognitive map

An awareness of all possibilities in a situation

For Tolman, hypotheses, expectations, beliefs, and finally a cognitive map intervene between experience and behavior. Rather than just describing an organisms behavior, these intervening variables were thought to explain it


According to Tolman, the verification of a hypothesis, expectancy, or belief



Describe Tolman's position on reinforcement

He rejected Watsons and Thorndike's explanations of learning, he did not believe that learning is an automatic process based on contiguity and frequency nor that it results from reinforcement. He believed that learning occurs constantly, with or without reinforcement and with or without motivation. The closest he came to reinforcement was confirmation. Through the confirmation of a hypothesis, expectancy, or belief, A cognitive map develops or is maintained. The animal learns what leads to what in the environment

His position is often called a S-S theory rather than an S-R theory


According to Tolman, the translation of learning into behavior



Describe Tolman's learning-performance distinction

According to Tolman, an organism learns constantly as it observes its environment. But whether the organism uses what it learned-and if so, how-is determined by the organisms motivational state. For example, a food-satiated rack might not leave the start box of a maze or might wander casually through the maze even though it had previously learned what had to be done to obtain food

Therefore, motivation influences performance but not learning


According to Tolman, learning that has occurred but is not translated into behavior

Latent learning


According to Tolman, the finding that animals who passively experience a goal box no longer containing reinforcement extinguish a previously learned response to that goal box significantly faster than animals without such experience

Latent extinction


Summarize Tolman's influence on psychology

Help to preserve and shape the tradition of cognitive psychology during a time when it was nearly eclipsed by the ascendancy of classical behaviorism

He did not get rid of mentalistic concepts but gave them objective, operational definitions


Accepted the law of contiguity but not the law of frequency. For him, learning occurs at full strength after just one association between a pattern of stimuli and a response

Edwin Ray Guthrie


Guthrie's one law of learning, which states that when a pattern of stimuli is experienced along with a response, the two become associated. In 1959 Guthrie revised the law contiguity to read, "what is being noticed becomes a signal for what is being done"

Law of contiguity


Guthrie's contention that the association between a pattern of stimuli and a response develops at full strength after just one pairing of the two

One-trial learning