Comparison of Behaviorism and the Humanistic Approach

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It is said that humanistic psychology was developed upon the limitations of behaviourism. The humanistic approach is often referred to as the “third force” in psychology coming after psychoanalysis and behaviourism; it is an alternative approach to psychology (Maslow, 1968). It offered a more wholesome approach to psychology at the time in comparison to behaviourism and psychoanalysis. This essay will compare and contrast behaviourism and humanistic psychology; it will focus on their contributions to psychological theory and their applications in the real world. “Why don’t we make what can be observed the real field of psychology” (Watson, 1929). Watson (1878-1958) was born into a poor family in South Carolina. His mother was a religious woman, and his father drank a lot and had multiple affairs (Watson, 1999). Watson himself married twice, having two children in each marriage. He didn’t seem to have good relationships with his children – it is said that one of the main reasons for this may be because he used his children throughout his research. He studied in the University of Chicago where he later became known as the founder of Behaviourism. He wrote an essay in 1914 titled “Psychology as the Behaviourist views it” where he stated that behaviourism is an objective experimental branch of natural science (Watson, 1914). Behaviourism is a theory of learning that argues that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning (Carver & Scheier, 2012). Behaviourists believe
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