Biography John b Watson

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Dr. John B. Watson was born on January 9, 1878 and died on September 25, 1958.  This famous scientist and pioneer in the field of Psychology grew up in South Carolina.   He started Furman University when he was sixteen years old.  Five years later he graduated with a Master’s of Science in Psychology and began to study for his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Chicago.  John B. Watson earned the degree in 1903.

By 1908, John Watson began teaching courses related to the field of Psychology at John Hopkins University.  During his career, he pioneered a number of famous studies, including a number of ethically questionable experiments in conditioning and behavior modification.  In 1913, John B. Watson presented a lecture at Columbia University titled Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.  This lecture was based on much of his research conducted over the previous years.  Today, this lecture is widely considered to be the basis of the behaviorist position.

Dr. Watson continued to teach at John Hopkins University until 1920, when he was asked to leave due to personal reasons.  After leaving this position, John B. Watson worked at an advertising agency until his retirement in 1945.

On a personal level, he had an affair with a woman named Raynor, which resulted in a divorce from his first wife.  It was reported at the time that he was asked to resign from his teaching position by the university because of this divorce.  Later on, Watson married Raynor.  The couple remained together until Raynor’s death in 1935.  Throughout his life, Watson reportedly had very poor relationships with his children, causing him to live in seclusion on a Connecticut farm.  

Professionally, John B. Watson is widely considered to be the founding father of behaviorism. While this theory began to lose its popularity after 1950, many of its theories, concepts, and principles are still taught and practiced today. Techniques such as conditioning and behavior modification are commonly used in therapies such as behavioral training.  These techniques have been credited with helping millions of patients to change bad behaviors and develop new communication and social skills.

According to the tenants of behaviorist theory, Psychology should only be based around observable behavior.  This makes the entire field of Psychology an experimental, objective branch of natural science with the goal of predicting and eventually controlling behavior. According to Dr. Watson, the field of Psychology should not include guesswork.

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