John B. Watson

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John Broadus Watson (January 9, 1878 – September 25, 1958) was an American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism, after doing research on animal behavior. He also conducted the controversial "Little Albert" experiment.

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Early life

Watson grew up in Travelers Rest, South Carolina and attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. A precocious student, he entered college at the age of 16 (he became a member of the Kappa Alpha Order) and left with a masters degree aged 21. He spent a year as a principal for grade school, then entered the University of Chicago to study philosophy with John Dewey on the recommendation of Furman professor, Gordon Moore, who was a major proponent of the view that life and the behavior of living organisms could be explained entirely by chemistry and physics without recourse to a supposed "vital force". Accordingly, Loeb taught that all behavior was dictated by instinct and learned responses to stimuli.

The combined influence of Dewey, Angell, Donaldson and Jacques Loeb led Watson to develop a highly descriptive, objective approach to the analysis of behavior that he would later call "behaviorism." Watson's behaviorism is typically considered[by whom?] a historical descendent of British empiricism, and particularly of the views of John Locke. However, Watson said nothing substantive about these things. Rather, his philosophy of science stems from[citation needed] the history of experimental physiology through the influence of Loeb. The reflex studies of Ivan Mikhailovich Sechenov (1829–1905) and Vladimir Bekhterev (1857–1927) were particularly influential. Later, Watson became interested in the work of Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936), and eventually included a highly simplified version of Pavlov's principles in his popular works.

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