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Behavior and Mind: The Roots of Modern Psychology Essay

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Updated: May 5th, 2021

Article Summary

The article “Behavior and Mind: The Roots of Modern Psychology” by Dennis Delprato is a book review that analyses the ideas of Rachlin on contemporary psychology. Delprato states that Rachlin placed the modern psychological sciences into two categories i.e. cognitive or physiological psychology and teleological behaviorism or behavior analysis (Delprato, 1995). The aim of cognitive psychology is to unravel internal mental mechanisms, while teleological behaviorism seeks to explain, predict, and control visible behavior. Delprato states that the main argument made by Rachlin in his book is that these two branches of psychology are compatible, contrary to the popular opinion that these two branches are different (Delprato, 1995).

Rachlin argues that teleological behaviorism or behavioral analysis studies mental life, while cognitive psychology and other non-behavioral branches of psychology study mental mechanisms. Hence, behavior analysis that studies mental life is linked to cognitive psychology, a science that studies mental mechanisms. Rachlin’s argument is derived from the way Aristotle differentiated efficient and final causes. He also based his argument on the premise that each category of cause explains different aspects of an organism’s behavior (Delprato, 1995). Rachlin strongly objects the views of B.F Skinner, a proponent of cognitive psychology, and he proceeds to argue that cognitive psychology can only make sense if it is viewed as a science investigating efficient causes. In this statement, Rachlin meant that physiological and cognitive psychology tries to understand why an organism behaves, feels and thinks in certain ways (Delprato, 1995).

When Rachlin talks about efficient causes, he is making reference to cause-effect relations among psychological concepts such as cognitive maps, internal impulses and neural activity. Rachlin seems to propose that psychology should be considered a science of final causes. Both behavior analysis and cognitive psychology are needed in explaining behavior (Delprato, 1995). Rachlin uses different explanations to demonstrate that behavioral and cognitive psychology may be reconciled. Rachlin also considers mentality to be just abstractions obtained from temporally overt behavior patterns, and not internal thinking. He disagrees with the views held by dual psychologists like B.F Skinner, who differentiates between observed behavior (overt) and hidden behavior (covert). The main idea that Rachlin strongly objects is that of private or covert psychological events (Delprato, 1995).

To demonstrate the limitation of covert psychological events in explaining behavior, Rachlin uses the example of pain. He argues that pain is considered an overt behavior, but in real sense, there are certain types of pain that can only be felt by an individual experiencing them (Delprato, 1995). In summary, Delprato supports Rachlin’s idea that behavioral and cognitive psychology should not be viewed as different entities. Instead, these two branches of psychology should be integrated to make psychology a science that investigates cause-effect relationships.

Article Critique

The article by Dennis Delprato is a book review and a secondary research. The research method used by the author is analysis, whereby he analyzes Rachlin’s ideas on behavioral and cognitive psychology. The article does not have elaborate research methods or designs like the ones used in primary research. It also does not have subjects/participants, materials or procedure. The main conclusion Delprato makes after reviewing and analyzing Rachlin’s ideas is that behavioral and cognitive psychology may be integrated or merged to better explain human behavior. Cognitive and behavioral psychologists disagreed on the best way of explaining behavior.

Cognitive psychologists argue that behavior is best explained through covert mental processes, whereby human behavior is believed to be entirely determined by mental processes i.e. our thoughts determines our actions. On the contrary, behavioral psychologists argue that human behavior can be best explained by observable characteristics. Behaviorists believe that the environment is the most influential element that determines the way humans behave. According to this approach, human behavior is a result of responding to certain stimuli emanating from the environment. In his conclusion, Delprato argues that none of these psychological approaches offers the best explanation of human behavior. However, if cognitive and behavioral psychologies are integrated, the two can offer the best explanation of human behavior.

The independent variables in this study are cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology; dependent variable is behavior as human behavior depends on the psychological approach adopted. Hence, behavior is a variable that depends on either cognitive or behavioral psychology. The variables were measured by outlining the characteristics that define them. For example, the reliance on overt traits by behavioral psychologists in explaining behavior was distinguished from the covert approach used by cognitive psychologists that emphasize on internal mental processes. The study was more of a correlation secondary research because it sought to establish the relationship between cognitive and behavioral psychology.

The study cannot be experimental because experimental research seeks to establish cause-effect relationship among variables. Moreover, experimental studies take the form of primary research with participants/subject placed in a controlled environment where certain variables are manipulated. This study was a book review and a secondary research. In secondary studies, there are few ethical considerations that a researcher needs to take into account. In some cases, secondary research has no ethical consideration. Sometimes a researcher is required to obtain consent or permission before conducting an analysis of another person’s work. The ethical consideration in secondary research also depends on the kind of data that one will be analyzing. For example, consent is required when conducting secondary analysis of documents such as court reports, hospital records, school reports, and archival documents.

The document analyzed by Delprato was a book, and there were no significant ethical considerations involved because any reader is allowed to conduct a book review. Delprato’s conclusions matched his findings because he agreed with Rachlin’s idea that cognitive and behavioral psychology should be integrated to provide the best explanation of human behavior. The limitation of this study is that it only used secondary data without conducting any primary research. Moreover, in his analysis Delprato considered only the views of a single author.

To make this research more credible, Delprato may have consulted the works of different scholars on how cognitive and behavioral psychology may be integrated. He may have also included views from scholars who strongly oppose the idea that cognitive and behavioral psychology that appears to contrast each other in methods of investigation may be integrated. This study may also have been more credible if it was conducted in form of a primary research, as this may have enabled the researcher to collect and analyze data, and determine whether behavioral and cognitive psychology are really compatible. Another study that may be done on the topic “Behavior and Mind: The Roots of Modern Psychology” is identifying the ways in which behavioral and cognitive psychology compliment each other.

Reference

Delprato, D.J. (1995). Behavior and Mind: The Roots of Modern Psychology. The Psychological Record, 45(2), 325+.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Behavior and Mind: The Roots of Modern Psychology'. 5 May.

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