John Broadus Watson (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
American psychologist and founder of behaviorism.
John Broadus Watson is best known as the founder of behaviorism, which he defined as an experimental branch of natural science aimed at the prediction and control of behavior. Its model was based on Ivan Pavlov's studies of conditioned reflex: every conduct is a response to a stimulus or to a complex set of stimulus situations. From birth, a few stimuli elicit definite reactions. But most behaviors are conditioned; they result from the association of unconditioned stimuli to other stimuli.
Watson was born in 1878 to a poor, rural South Carolina family. His mother was a pious Baptist; his father left the family in 1891. After taking a traditional classical curriculum at Furman University, he studied philosophy at the University of Chicago. Disappointed with John Dewey's teaching, he began work in animal psychology, and received his Ph.D. in 1903. Watson was a professor at Johns Hopkins University from 1908 to 1920, when he was dismissed because of his relationship with a graduate student, Rosalie Rayner. He divorced his wife, married Rosalie, and had a successful career in advertising. In 1957, he was awarded a gold medal by the American Psychological Association (of which he had been the youngest president, in 1915). Watson died in...
(The entire section is 805 words.)
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