Behaviorism Today

Radical behaviorism is the only behaviorism exerting serious influence today. It has its own division within the American Psychological Association and its own journals, The

Experimental Analysis of Behavior and Applied Behavior Analysis. The other behaviorisms have passed into history, their founders' intellectual descendents having altered them beyond recognition.

But behaviorism as a philosophy and an historical movement remains an object of interest to psychologists, philosophers, and historians. An important unresolved question is the current status of behaviorism. Although formal and informal behaviorism are clearly gone and radical behaviorism's importance is waning, it is clear that there has been no return to prebehavioristic mentalism. Cognitive psychologists still aim for the prediction and control of behavior, reject introspection for objective methods, have relatively little to say about consciousness, and study both humans and animals (as well as computers). In other words, they still could subscribe to Watson's basic creed, while rejecting his "muscle-twitchism" as did Tolman and the informal behaviorists. It is possible, then, that cognitive psychology is a new form of behaviorism with historical roots in Tolman's purposive behaviorism and Hull's fascination with learning machines. Or, if one insists that cognitive science's willingness to postulate real inner processes sets it off sharply from behaviorism, perhaps a new term is needed that encompasses both behaviorism and cognitive science, distinguishing both from traditional mentalism. Edmund Ions has coined a possible name: behavioralism.

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