Highly influential academic school of psychology that dominated psychological theory in the U.S. between World War I and World War II. Classical behaviourism concerned itself exclusively with the objective evidence of behaviour (measured responses to stimuli) and excluded ideas, emotions, and inner mental experience (see conditioning). It emerged in the 1920s from the work of John B. Watson (who borrowed from Ivan Pavlov) and was developed in subsequent decades by Clark L. Hull and B.F. Skinner. Through the work of Edward C. Tolman, strict behaviourist doctrines began to be supplemented or replaced by those admitting such variables as reported mental states and differences in perception. A natural outgrowth of behaviourist theory was behaviour therapy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on behaviourism, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up behaviourism? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.