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Psychological Approaches – The History of Psychology

4. Behaviourism

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In this lecture, we think about some of the criticisms of psychology in its early days, some of which still stand up today, focusing in particular on: (i) the mind and consciousness not being able to be objectively studied, and that introspection yielded subjective and variable results; (ii) those outcomes meaning that psychological study could not be consistent, suggesting it to be a weak science; (iii) John Watson’s behaviourism, designed to tackle the criticisms of psychology by making research more objective; (iv) behaviourism’s utilisation of controlled laboratory experiments to measure behavioural responses to stimuli, to ensure this desired objectivity; (v) John Watson’s second objective being to enhance the application of behaviourism by educating the public on it; (vi) a problem with behaviourism being 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) explores the history of psychology and its evolution from philosophical beginnings to modern science. In the first lecture, we think about the evolution of psychology as a philosophical entity, as it develops prior to Wundt opening the first psychology laboratory in 1879. In the second lecture, we explore the scientific practices enabled by the technological developments of the 19th century, which provided the basis for the early psychological theory of structuralism. In the third lecture, we think about functionalism, a key development in psychology supported by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Next, we bring to light early psychology as we know it today, in the form of behaviourism. In the fifth and final lecture, we work through three key perspectives which developed on from 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. Some of Mr Fairholm’s recent publications include 'Looking back: Freud, the libido and oxytocin' (2014) and 'Issues, debates and approaches in psychology' (2012).

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APA style

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

MLA style

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

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