History Of Modern Psychology
The history of psychology and its four fathers, Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, and Skinner. What did they do, how did they do it, and what doesn't the public know about them?
There are four main people who were instrumental in making psychology a science: Ivan Pavlov, Edward Thorndike, John Watson, and Fred Skinner.
Pavlov born in 1849, has always been famous for making dogs salivate at command, however there is a deeper meaning to his research. Pavlov was the father of respondent conditioning. Respondent conditioning involves making a neutral stimulus into an unconditioned stimulus that elicits an unconditioned response. Pavlov showed this process by using dogs as subjects, he would sound a metronome, then immediately put meat powder in their mouths. After enough pairings, the dogs would salivate at the sound of a metronome.
Thorndike was born in 1874, shortly after Pavlov, and created the "law of effect." Basically what this law says is that the consequences of a behavior will govern the frequency of the behavior in the future. He demonstrated this by putting a cat in a barred cage, with food right outside the cage. There was a lever inside of the cage, when the cat hit the lever the door to the cage opened, and the cat could have his food. The cat then started hitting the lever all the time, showing that since it had previously resulted in favorable consequences, the cat learned to do the behavior repetitively. This kind of behavioral process is called operant behavior.
Watson was born in 1878, and stated that only observable behavior could be studied. Basically Watson founded behaviorism. What people don’t know about Watson, is the most influential thing he did in his life. Watson was a full professor at a prestigious university, however one day he was caught having sex with his secretary in his office at the university. He was then kicked off of the staff. Watson took a job with an advertising firm and was the person who made it acceptable for women to smoke cigarettes. He shaped the public, first he showed advertisements with a pack of cigarettes close to a lady, he then slowly, over time moved them closer to her. Eventually people were so used to seeing women near and with cigarettes, that they didn’t consider it taboo for them to smoke it.
Skinner distinguished between operant behavior and respondent behavior. Skinner also showed the general public how to use psychology to better their lives and manage their children. Skinner elaborated on the science until it was a concept that could be taught, understood, and made into a profession.