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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


Describe Guthrie's distinctions between movements, acts, and skills, and his explanation of why practice improves performance

A movement is a specific response made to a specific configuration of stimuli. It is this association that is learned at full strength after one exposure

An act is a response made to varying stimulus configurations

It is because learning an act involves learning a specific response under varying conditions that practice improves performance

Just as an act consists of many movements, a skill consists of many acts. Thus, a skills such as typing, playing golf, or driving a car consists of many acts that, in turn, consist of thousands of movements


Describe Guthrie's concept of the nature of reinforcement

Explained the effects of reinforcement in terms of the recency principal.

Reinforcement changes the stimulating conditions thereby preventing unlearning. In other words, reinforcement preserves the association that preceded it

Performed research on 800 escape responses of cats who learned to move a pool to escape an apparatus each in its own unique way. This stereotyped behavior would be repeated by each cat when it was replaced into the apparatus which supported Guthrie's claim that whatever enamel does last in a situation will be repeated with the situation recurs-the recency principal


Describe Guthrie's view of the forgetting process

Like learning, forgetting occurs in one trial. Occurs when an old S-R association is displaced by a new one. All forgetting involved new learning


Describe Guthrie's notion of habit and how to break habits

A habit is an act that has become associated with a large number of stimuli. The more stimuli that elicit the act, the stronger is the habit.

There is one general rule for breaking undesirable habits: observe the stimuli that elicit the undesirable act and perform another act in the presence of those stimuli. Once this is done, the new, desirable act will be elicited by those stimuli instead of the old, undesirable act


Describe Guthrie's concept of punishment

The effectiveness of punishment is determined not by the pain it causes but by it what causes the organism to do in the presence of stimuli that elicit undesirable behavior

If punishment elicits behavior incompatible with the undesirable behavior in the presence of the stimuli, it will be effective. If not, it will be ineffective. For example, in attempting to discourage a dog from chasing cars, hitting it on the nose while it is chasing is likely to be effective. On the other hand, hitting it on its rear is likely to be ineffective, or perhaps even strengthen The tendency to chase


According to Guthrie, the internal or external stimuli that keep an organism active until a goal is reached

Maintaining stimuli


Describe Guthrie's concepts of drives and intentions

Drives provide maintaining stimuli that keep an organism active until a goal is reached. Maintaining stimuli can be internal, for example, hunger, or external, for example a loud noise.

When an organism performs an act that terminates the maintaining stimuli, that act becomes associated with the maintaining stimuli and will tend to be performed when those stimuli recur. Such acts are referred to as intentions because they appear to have as their goal the removal of maintaining stimuli or drives. Intentional behavior is explained by Guthrie as any other kind of behavior, by the law of contiguity


Describe the attempts of Vorks and Estes to formalize Guthrie's theory

Because Guthrie often presented his theory in terms to General to be tested experimentally, Voeks attempted to make his theory more scientifically rigorous. Her formalization of his theory consisted of four basic postulates, eight definitions, and eight theorems or testable deductions. She tested a number of her deductions and found considerable support for his theory

Estes perform significant research on the effects of punishment. It is for his development of stimulus sampling theory that he is best known for, and the cornerstone of this theory was Guthrie's law of contiguity with this assumption of one-trial learning. Showed that Guthrie's theory, well appearing to be simple, was actually very complex.


A behaviorist who believed that psychology should study the functional relationship between environmental events, such as reinforcement contingencies, and behavior. His work exemplified positivism



Describe Skinners version of positivism

Was influenced by Bacons work who said that science should stay very close to what was empirically observable and to avoid theorizing about it.

Skinner followed Mach's positivism explicitly and avoided the problem of establishing causation in human behavior


Skinners approach to research that involves studying the systematic relationship between behavioral and environmental events. Such study focuses on the relationship between reinforcement contingencies and response rate or response probability

Functional analysis


According to skinner, behavior that is elicited by a known stimulus

Respondent behavior


The type of psychology insisting that environmental stimuli elicit most, if not all, behavior. The Russian physiologists and Watson were this type of psychologists

S-R psychology


The type of conditioning studied by Thorndike, wherein an organism learns to make a response that is instrumental in producing reinforcement

Instrumental conditioning


Behavior that is emitted by an organism rather than elicited by a known stimulus

Operant behavior

What Thorndike called instrumental behavior, skinner called operant behavior because it operates on the environment in such a way as to produce consequences


Describe Skinner's view on the nature of reinforcement

If an operant response leads to reinforcement, the rate of that response increases.

Thus, those responses an organism makes that result in reinforcement are most likely to occur when the organism is next in that situation


Describe Skinners beliefs about the role of the environment

The environment was important for Skinner because it selected behavior. The reinforcement contingencies the environment provides determine which behaviors are strengthened and which are not


Describe Skinner's views on the positive control of behavior

Like Thorndike, skinner found that the effects of reinforcement and punishment are not symmetrical; reinforcement strengthens behavior, but punishment does not weaken behavior

Why is punishment so widely used?Skinner said because it reinforces the punisher


Behaviorism that is positivistic in that it describes relationships between environmental events and behavior rather than attempting to explain those relationships. Skinners approach to psychology exemplified this.

Descriptive behaviorism


Describe the applications of Skinnerian principles

Skinner and his followers sock to apply their principles to the solution of practical problems. In all applications of his principles, the general rule is always the same: change reinforcement contingencies, and you change behavior. This principal has been used to teach pigeons to play games like table tennis and basketball, and many animals trained through the use of his principles have performed at tourist attractions throughout the United States

In the realm of education, skinner develop a teaching technique called programmed learning where materials presented to students in small steps and then students are then tested on the material, give an immediate feedback on the accuracy of their answers, and allowed to proceed through the material at their own pace

Behavior modification therapy to help individuals with problems ranging from psychosis to smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental retardation, juvenile delinquency, speech disorders etc.

Skinnerian principles have also been used to create token economies in a number of institutions. When participants in such economies behave in desirable Waze, they are reinforced with tokens that can be exchanged for such items as candy, cigarettes, coffee, or the exclusive use of a radio or television set


The use of learning principles to treat emotional or behavioral disorders

Behavior therapy


And arrangement within institutions whereby desirable behavior is strengthened using valuable tokens as reinforcers

Token economy


Describe the contemporary state of behaviorism

Remains influential in contemporary psychology. Skinners influence remain strong.

Despite the current manifestations of behaviorism in contemporary psychology, the influence has diminished. The overwhelming interest in cognitive psychology today runs counter to all brands of behaviorism

Legacy: psychologists generally agree now that the subject matter of psychology is overt behavior


The belief that science should study only those objects or events that can be experienced directly. That is, all speculation about abstract entities should be avoided