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… John Broadus Watson, 1930 J. B. Watson accepted the proclamation of John Locke “which presented the mind as a blank slate upon which experience writes.

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Presentation on theme: "… John Broadus Watson, 1930 J. B. Watson accepted the proclamation of John Locke “which presented the mind as a blank slate upon which experience writes."— Presentation transcript:

1 … John Broadus Watson, 1930 J. B. Watson accepted the proclamation of John Locke “which presented the mind as a blank slate upon which experience writes its message” (LeFrancois,2000). In what many have said was his most widely quoted and longest sentence,Watson stated: Give me a dozen healthy infants well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors (Watson, 1930, p. 104, as cited in LeFrancois, 2000).

2 John B. Watson “Father of Behaviorism” (LeFrancois, 2000) Other titles & roles: Rat caretaker Professor Department Head Editor of Psychological Review President – American Psychological Association Father Husband, Ex-husband, and husband again Advertising Executive Vice President – J. Walter Thompson Company Writer, Author Gold Medal Recipient from APA for outstanding contributions to Psychology

3 Watson’s Life & Accomplishments Born in South Carolina in 1878, his father left when John was 13. He was an unruly child and a poor student, but he had ambition. He was admitted to Furman University when he was only 16. While at Furman, he worked as an assistant in the chemistry department. Even though considered unsociable, he joined the Kappa Alpha fraternity. Ben Geer, a professor at Furman, said that Watson was “a non-conformist in college and in later life and explored theories and ideas for their sensationalism”. Watson graduated in 1899 and received his Masters after 5 years. Going to University of Chicago in 1900 to pursue a doctorate in Psychology and Philosophy, he arrived in Chicago with $50 and nothing else. He was the youngest person to receive a PhD at the age of 25. In 1904, Watson married Mary Amelia Ickes, one of his students at Chicago. They had two children, Mary (Polly) and John. In 1908, Watson joined the faculty at John Hopkins University, where he became the Director of Psychology and editor of the Psychological Review. In 1913, Watson published “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It”, in which he “reviewed failings of introspective study, and offered a different definition of psychology, calling it the ‘science of behavior’”. Watson also proposed the “conditioned reflex as an objective methodology that could be used to investigate sensory problems that were previously thought to be accessible only through introspection.” In 1916, Watson worked with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and served as a consultant for a life insurance firm. He was also elected president of the American Psychological Association.

4 From , Watson served as a Major in World War I, among a group of scientists and engineers on the National Research Council (which was designed to coordinate research in all branches of science). Watson designed a number of tests for future pilots, studying their reaction to the deprivation of oxygen at high altitudes and gathering data for the development of tests for flight officers. Watson was seen as a key figure to mobilize psychology for the purposes of war and was given a $6,600 grant by the US Interdepartmental Social Hygiene Board regarding venereal diseases among servicemen. In 1920, (back at John Hopkins University) after embarking on his famous and controversial study of Little Albert, Watson (42) had an affair with his student/assistant, Rosaline Rayner, (21) which resulted in his divorce from first wife, Mary. Forced to resign from John Hopkins, Watson married Rayner immediately and had two more children, William and James. In 1921, Watson went to work for J. Walter Thompson Company, an advertising company, making four times what he made as a professor (LeFrancois, 2000), and in 1924, was promoted to vice president of the company. Watson continued to write psychology articles for Harper’s, McCall’s, Liberty, Collier’s and Cosmopolitan (LeFrancois, 2000). In 1935, Rosaline died at the age of 35 and according to Watson’s son, Jim, …”never completely recovered from Rosaline’s death. After she died, Watson lot his panache. He sold his Westport estate in the early 1950’s and moved to a small farm in Woodbury, Connecticut, where he spent his last years.” In 1945, Watson retired. He never returned to academic life (LeFrancois, 2000), but wrote a book on infant and child care with his wife, Rosaline, entitled ”Psychological Care of Infant and Child”. All of his books and articles were criticized by his former colleagues (LeFrancois, 2000). In 1958, Watson died in New York City on September 25 at the age of 80. Just before he died, the American Psychological Association honored him with a gold medal for his outstanding contributions to psychology (LeFrancois, 2000). Watson’s Life & Accomplishments – Cont. Bullet information not otherwise designated was retrieved October 7, 2003 from

5 Jim Watson, son of J.B. Watson, said this about his father… “Dad was a handsome fellow. His hair turned white when he was a young man. His voice was very quiet, rather deep, and touched with a southern accent. Although he talked quietly, he did not speak in a monotone. He never raised his voice. If he were angry, which was not very often, you would never know by the way he talked. He had an enormous vocabulary-scholarly but practical. He had a large number of four-letter swear expletives. I don’t think many people felt he was vulgar when he used them. He much preferred the quiet country life, but it was mother who always pushed him to go to parties, take trips to Europe, invite company in and all other social activities. Later on, after we sold the farm in Westport and he moved up to the country at Woodbury, Connecticut, he much preferred to use the outhouse rather than the inside plumbing. He often said that he’d prefer to use kerosene lamps than electricity and the fireplace than central heat. He was just tired of complexity in his life” (Brewer, 1991, as cited in Diclemente, 2000).

6 Mariette Hartley, daughter of Watson and his first wife, Mary Ickes, wrote the book, “Breaking the Silence”. She called Watson ‘Big John’. “My mother’s upbringing was purely intellectual. The only time my mother was ‘kissed on the forehead’ was when she was about twelve and Big John went to war. Although she was reading the newspaper by the time she was two, there was never any touching, not any at all” (Hartley, 1990, as cited in “Lecture Notes on John B. Watson”). “We couldn’t talk about feelings, we couldn’t talk about affection, we couldn’t talk about touching, but we could talk about sex. Years later, when I was crossing a congested boulevard in Los Angeles, I took Mom’s hand, but she pulled it away, saying, ‘Don’t. People will think we’re lesbians.’ Went through therapy and appears from her biography to be living a reasonably successful, healthy life. I was twenty-six before I knew what anger was. Like Dad, I kept turning it on myself. I did everything not to get angry, including marrying a husband who beat me up. There are various kinds of suicide” (Hartley, 1990, as cited in “Lecture Notes on John B. Watson”).

7 “By the time Billy was born, Watson had started to believe that scientific evidence showed that children should get very little hugging and kissing. Freud had shown that many infants were hopelessly fixated on either mother or father. Rosalie thought there was some danger that their sons were not enough a part of their lives. Treated their children as young adults. Watson above all wanted his children to be independent. Rosalie was always a little guilty because she was ‘not the perfect behaviorist wife’. Was ‘still too much on the side of the children.’ Could not resist hugging and kissing them sometimes. By age 3, Jimmy was having recurrent stomach pains. Rosalie got diahhrea and died. Big John drank more and harder and died in 1958 of cirrhosis of the liver. Billy, the first son, became a respected successful psychiatrist in New York. Became Freudian and turned against his father’s behaviorism. His first suicide attempt was stopped by younger brother, Jimmy. Second attempt in mid-30s was successful. Watson’s and Mary’s son, Little John, was ‘a rather rootless person who often sponged on his father’. Plagued throughout life with stomach trouble and intolerable headaches, he died in his early 50s of bleeding ulcers. Jimmy also had chronic stomach problems for years but after intensive analysis is alive and doing well. John and Mary’s daughter, Polly, attempted suicide over and over and over and over”. (Information retrieved October 7, 2003 from

8 David Cohen wrote about the two boys born to Watson in his second marriage, “…had two boys, Billy in 1921 and Jimmy in At 3 months, Watson tried to condition his son’s bowel movements. Despondently, Rosaline wrote in February: ‘I thought I had succeeded in conditioning bowels to move but it was a false observation.’ Billy was constipated and had to have laxatives, but still was made to ‘try every morning at the same time’ “(Cohen, 1979, as cited in “Lecture Notes on John B. Watson”).

9 Watson’s Theories of Psychology… “Considered the ‘Father of Behaviorism’ due to his opposition to the mainstream psychological view of the unconscious and psychoanalytic thought. To the behaviorist, the outward expression of the self is all that can be measured and therefore, the only variable worthy of exploration. His lecture at Columbia University entitled ‘Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It’ has become the manifesto for behavioral psychologists such as B.F. Skinner. His (Watson’s) opposition to psychoanalytic theory split the field of psychology into two distinct and almost always oppositional schools of thought.” (AllPsych Online)

10 John B. Watson Poem by Rachel Craig Born in 1878, Unruly and wild was his state. He was misbehaved as some could see, In a classroom, he’d be labeled ADD. John was ambitious, prideful and quite keen, He graduated from a university at age 16. He pushed forward, way past his fears, And received his Masters after five years. By the age of 25, he earned a PhD, From the University of Chicago, a chore that was no cup of tea. He married a student, Mary was his first love, Two children they created, a gift from up above.

11 Later in his life, he became editor of Psychological Review, In 1916, he was elected president of APA, and his popularity grew. From , he served as a major in World War One, Then came his controversial study of Little Albert, and remorse for this was none. John had an affair with a student and divorced his wife, When Rosaline died, he moved to Connecticut to move on with his life. He retired in ’45 and then he wrote a book, He died in ’58 and we all took a second look. APA gave him a gold medal for his contributions to psychology, An intelligent but different man, a psychologist was he. John B. Watson teaches us still today, We now learn from the past and we have grown in a new way. …Rachel Craig 10/03

12 References AllPsych On Line. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from Brewer, C. L. (1991). Perspectives on John B. Watson. In G. A. Kimble, M. Wertheimer, & C. L. White (Eds.) Portraits of pioneers in psychology. (pp ). Hillsdale, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from Buckley, K.W. (1989). Mechanical Man. John Broadus Watson and the Beginnings of Behaviorism. New York: The Guilford Press. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from Cohen, D. (1979)..J. B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviorism. London, Boston & Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from http//siop.org/tip/backissues/TipApril00/7Diclemente.htm. Diclemente, D. F., & Hantula, D. A. (2000). John Broadus Watson, I-O psychologists. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from Hartley, M., & Commire, A. (1990). Breaking the Silence. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Retrieved October 7, 2003 from Lecture Notes on John B. Watson. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2003, from LeFrancois, G. R. (2000). Theories of Human Learning: What the Old Man Said (4 th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. Watson, J. B. (1930). Behaviorism (2 nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

13 Slide Show on John B. Watson researched and prepared by: Cheryl Glover Rachel Craig Pam Warren October 13, 2003


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