In the article Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It, Watson
asserts that behaviorists take psychology as a natural science and thus are obliged
to be purely objective. However, the way experiments are carried out in psychology
does not support the view that it is purely objective. For instance, people and
animals are treated the same during psychological experiments regardless of the
understanding that they are different. Similarly, their responses to different stimulus
are taken as the means to an end. Watson states that “that end is the
production of mental states that may be inspected or observed” (p.158). The problem
of this view, as Watson argues, is that it creates problems when determining the
elementary constituents if the object under observation is complex such as mental
state. This is true because it is difficult to classify the state of mind in
terms of its appearance, loci, and intensity among other classification parameters.
As such, he suggests that behavioral psychologists should have a compromise either
to change their perspective on behavioral psychology or let behavior become an
independent branch of science.
He continues to warn that
if psychologists do not institute a compromise, human beings are at the risk of
being treated the same way as animals when they become subjects of investigation.
Further, he argues that after applying objectivity in studying the subject and determining
the responses to stimuli and other aspects, the study is not complete until the
results are interpreted with an analogy that reflects consciousness. This is evident
from the statement that “the time seems to have come when psychology must
discard all reference to consciousness; when it need no longer delude itself
into thinking that it is making mental states the object of observation” (p.163).
The absence of compromise has resulted to different meanings when psychologists
assert that they are studying behavior of either human beings or animals. This
is so because the understanding of behavioral psychology is different among different
psychologists because it has been rendered subjective.
This article is
significant to modern psychology in several ways. First, it helps psychology students
in forming the best view of behavior psychology towards a successful career or practice.
This assertion is true because Watson informs them on what behavior psychology entails
and how to become objective when investigating behaviors in both animals and humans.
Second, it helps in restoring human dignity in behavioral psychology study. This
is true because the readers are informed on how to treat human subjects different
from animal subjects. Third, it acts as a guide to behavior psychologists on
how to study their subjects objectively in a way that obtained results may be generalized
or replicated to explain behaviors in human beings and animals. As such, uniformity
in behavior study results is enhanced. Fourth, it acts as a call to action for psychologists
to make better the behavioral psychology branch of psychology towards understanding
human and animal behaviors better.
In conclusion, Watson in
his article Psychology as the Behaviorist
Views It asserts that behavioral psychology should be a purely objective branch
of psychology. However, he is for the view that psychologists do not treat it
as such because of several reasons such as similar treatment of human beings and
animals subjects. As such, obtained results are flawed and thus subjective. He
thus suggests that psychologists should embrace objectivity by establishing a
clear-cut line between human and animal subjects in an experiment and explaining
the consciousness of the two after establishing their responses to stimulus. This
article is important in making behavioral psychology objective and in restoring
human dignity when used as subjects of study.