Monday, August 12, 2013

How Little We Understand Our Own Behaviour

An intriguing article in the June 2013 issue of the Psychologist journal got me thinking of BF Skinner, an old hero of mine. Skinner is one of the most famous psychologists of the 20th century and was a man who stirred much controversy, both among his peers and within society generally. Skinner was often referred to as the father of behaviourism. In his attempts to understand, predict and control behaviour, he emphasised the role of environmental factors above internal factors such as feelings, states of mind, innate personality and so on, seeing these, in essence, as emergent consequences of our learning environment. He did recognise the importance of physiology and genetics, but argued that in gaining psychologically relevant knowledge we should attend to the environment in which a person lives, their learned behavioural repertoire and the consequences that follow their actions. In other words, if you really want to understand me, pay attention to what I do, not what I say – or what you think I think. more

No comments: