Thursday, October 06, 2011

Founded In Behaviorism: Celebrating 50 Years of Psychology At Wesleyan University

From the very beginning, Illinois Wesleyan’s department was aligned firmly in the field of science. “We feel our methodology fits in with the natural sciences, focusing on the principles of scientific research design,” said Williams, who teaches courses in neuroscience. That belief stems directly from the founding members of the Psychology Department and its first chair, Roger Ulrich. “Ulrich was a Skinnerian,” said Schnaitter, referring to the work of B.F. Skinner, a famed behavioral psychologist. “He believed psychology is the science of the behavior of organisms...Schnaitter came to Illinois Wesleyan in 1969. By that time, all three of the original members of the Psychology Department had left for other schools, but the concept of Skinnerianism prevailed, he said. “The roots set by Ulrich and his behaviorist colleagues ran very deep, and the curriculum in psychology was all behavior analysis,” he said. “It was not your typical psychology program with theories of personality, abnormal psychology and counseling psych – none of those things were taught here.” more

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