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n. an approach to psychology, formulated in 1913 by John B. Watson, based on the study of objective, observable facts rather than subjective, qualitative processes, such as feelings, motives, and consciousness. To make psychology a naturalistic science, Watson proposed to limit it to quantitative events, such as stimulus–response relationships, effects of conditioning, physiological processes, and a study of human and animal behavior, all of which can best be investigated through laboratory experiments that yield objective measures under controlled conditions. Historically, behaviorists held that mind was not a proper topic for scientific study since mental events are subjective and not independently verifiable. With its emphasis on activity as an adaptive function, behaviorism is seen as an outgrowth of functionalism. See descriptive behaviorism; methodological behaviorism; neobehaviorism; radical behaviorism.

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Psychology term of the day

May 21st 2024

attachment theory

attachment theory

a theory that (a) postulates an evolutionarily advantageous need, especially in primates, to form close emotional bonds with significant others: specifically, a need for the young to maintain close proximity to and form bonds with their caregivers; and (b) characterizes the different types of relationships between human infants and caregivers. These relationships have been shown to affect the individual’s later emotional development and emotional stability. See also insecure attachment; secure attachment; Strange Situation. [originally developed by John Bowlby and later expanded by Mary D. Salter Ainsworth]