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The History of Psychology

4. Behaviourism

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This fourth lecture begins by outlining some of the criticisms of psychology in its early days (some of which still stand up today). This includes that the mind and consciousness could not be objectively studied, and that introspection yielded subjective and variable results. Both outcomes meant that psychological study could not be consistent, suggesting it to be a weak science. Mr Fairholm then introduces John Watson’s behaviourism, designed to tackle the criticisms of psychology by making its research more objective. Behaviourism utilises controlled laboratory experiments to measure behavioural responses to stimuli, to ensure this desired objectivity. John Watson’s second objective was to develop the degree to which it is applied, by educating the public on behaviourism. A problem highlighted with behaviourism is its exclusive focus on behaviour, resulting in an improper ability to study phenomena like dreaming and language.


In this course, Mr Ian Fairholm (University of Bath) walks through the history of psychology and its evolution from philosophical beginnings to modern science. The first lecture describes the evolution of psychology as a philosophical entity, as it develops prior to Wundt opening the first psychology laboratory in 1879. The second lecture explores the scientific practices enabled by the technological developments of the 19th century, which provided the basis for the early psychological theory of structuralism. Lecture three introduces functionalism, a key development in psychology supported by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Lecture four brings to light early psychology as we know it today, in the form of behaviourism. The fifth and final lecture works through three key perspectives which developed on from or responded to behaviourism: humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology, and social learning theory.


Mr Ian Fairholm is a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. One of his research areas of interest is the history of psychology and the issues, debates and approaches that surround the subject. Mr Fairholm’s recent publications have included investigations into the female autistic profile, treating anxiety and depression with and without addiction, adults grieving the death of a pet, and Sigmund Freud’s research on religion. He has also published papers in the fields of parapsychology, neuropsychoanalysis, perception and neuropsychology.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Fairholm, I. (2022, January 05). The History of Psychology - Behaviourism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Fairholm, Ian. "The History of Psychology – Behaviourism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Jan 2022,

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