Prior to behaviorism, experimental psychologists studied the mind, which they defined as conscious experience, and their research tool was one or another form of introspection. Among themselves they disagreed over what counted as scientific introspection: Wundt insisted on a highly controlled form of self-report, whereas Titchener and the Wurzburg group allowed retrospective analyses of mental processes, and William James advocated ordinary armchair introspection. They also disagreed about how to explain conscious experience. Some advocated a reductionist approach, in which experience was to be explained by reference to underlying physiological processes. Others preferred to cite unconscious mental processes as the cause of experience. Still others advocated pure phenomenology, in which experience was described but not causally explained. In any case, all were mentalists in taking mind as the subject matter of psychology to be investigated by introspection. Behaviorism rejects the mentalistic definition of psychology and, therefore, mentalism's research method of introspection. Behaviorists define psychology as the science of behavior, and they study behavior, eschewing attempts to enter their subjects' minds.
Was this article helpful?