Behaviorism Is a Preferable Philosophy of Science Than Is Cognitivism - Essay Sample

Published: 2021-08-18
1740 words
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Boston College
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Argumentative essay
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Behaviorism and cognitivism are the two movements in psychology that impact learning and education. While behaviorism studies behavior so as to identify its determinants, cognitivism advances behaviorism (Buell, 2017). The former is dependent on a set of physical laws whereas the latter studies mental processes through interventions of behavior. Both remain to be similar in various aspects such as the use of basic assumptions of human or mental actions as regulated by physical laws. However, various contradictions make behaviorism a preferable philosophy of science than cognitivism.

Cognitivism, whose research subjects are mostly humans, perceives behavior as an area from which to find the mental process that causes the particular behavior. On the other hand, while behaviorism focuses on animals as its subject, the behavior is viewed as an irreducible consequence of stimuli due to the environment. Stimuli and responses are non-existent but are dependents or abstractions that the human being have just applied to attempt to bring sense. Stimuli are termed as an indication of the assumption of a reductionism and nihilistic philosophy of science from which meaning and behavior are reducible to their following elements, and that behavior is an outcome of a certain process that was pushed by an external force (Watson, 1997). With its research subjects based on animals, behaviorism is, therefore, more preferred by researchers.

Science is rarely objective. The application of methodology and practice of science requires scientists' decisions, and hence, the philosophical assumptions in play will always lead to collection, interpretation, and concluding existing data. In that case, scientists would not rather hold on to objectivity since much of their reasoning encompassed is based on abstraction. This is what makes behavioral movement unique and more preferred than cognitive movement. Many behaviorists explain objectivity in their philosophies (Goldsmith et al., 1991) and hence, no big impact for cognitivists as subjective seems to outweigh the physical brains.

Although the two philosophies of science are distinct in some captive ways, the behavioral movement is just as criticized as the cognitive movement. However, cognitive science overcomes the main limitations of behavioral science especially where reflexing and reinforcing is not leading factors to all human behavior (Nawy, 1996). Cognitive science, however, does not explain human behavior hence, does not sufficiently predict human behavior. Even though the behavioral approach is limited to animals, behaviorism is more preferred as it provides sufficient information regarding its subjects.

Behaviorism also outweighs cognitivism in various perspective methods. While cognitivism deeply explains the reasoning of humans, behaviorism strongly explains the animal reason, how animals draw their conclusions especially form stimuli, why they are subject to error and their unique abilities. Cognitivism is subject to the irreducible minimum, leaving no room for proper human action whereas behaviorism leaves space for other possible actions.

Cognitivism is rooted in a mechanism (Buell, 2017). For mechanism, there are no default meanings or sentience, and with the absence of the metaphor that assumes that no action exists until an external influence is made, it successfully defines the human behavior of getting, creating and developing sense. The only advantage with cognitivism is that it relies on the fact that humans are no more than complex machines that just adjust to their external influences and have no meaning of performing certain actions (Barell, 2010). On the other hand, behaviorism has its core on the metaphor and hence stronger in explaining animal behaviors and their mental processes. A metaphor is known to exaggerate or underscore various characteristics of the observed behavior and obfuscate other behaviors. Scientists and theorists may prefer behaviorism due to its core grounds of metaphors.

Both cognitivism and behaviorism deal in semantics and have information to back them up. Just as cognitivism and behaviorism are important structures in psychology, they exhibit weaknesses. The only weakness with behaviorism is an attitude of dogmatic superiority (Watson, 1997). If behaviorism cannot explain a certain behavior, then that behavior does not exist, and an assumption cannot be drawn that behaviorism is wrong and hence, behaviorism is treated as a wrong dissent. On the other hand, cognitivism, with its ability to explain the history behind a behavior is weak in the fact that it does not have a framework for operating within. However, behaviorisms tough explanations outweigh cognitive science by having stronger data that backs it up as compared to cognitivism.

The behaviorist approach to philosophy and language learning is known to stand out from the fact that students could contemplate another language through teaching the response to the effective environment (stimulus). Such reception is performed either instantly positively or negatively as soon as the subjects accept correction or praise from their tutors. The approach tends to explain that inquiry of new behavior is based on the conditions of the environment where the new behavior is linked to a stimulus through the provision of reinforcement after production of the correct behavior (Nawy, 1996). The cognitive approach perceives the learning of a second language as a gradual and detailed thinking process where the application of new methods of learning are involved (Christenson & Menzel, 1998). Although learning strategies are ways to influence real comprehension, assumptions should be made, and the behaviorist theory outweighs it in that the latter solely depends on the unconscious and automatic process.

Cognitivism assumes that insights and intentional patterning are the causes of response (Buell, 2017). These mental representations and associations are believed to be brought in through an experience. Behaviorism sees changes in behavior as a result of experience and which can be measured (Bandura, 1977). Measuring of experience is what makes the behaviorist theory unique in its ways hence, making it more preferred over the cognitivist theory.

Through behaviorism, scientists can determine the cues that elicit the targeted responses. Cues can be used to enhance the learning that is required to lead to the desired response. Ironically, some of these can be shown where the correct answer or a way of doing something, reinforcement, and repetition can cause an aimed response without the necessity of cues (Nawy, 1996). However, the ability to not rely on is important in making behaviorism superior to cognitivism.

Both cognitivism and behaviorism hold the same contradiction. They may use subjective metaphors as the ground on which science is based. Cognitive science has been advanced regarding its response to the world's perception although is a metaphor depending on input-output influences to successfully explain how humans think. For behaviorism, response metaphor is used to interpret a behavior, and the inquiries in the same context are set as interpreted for as long as the metaphor can hold on. On the same note, cognitivism is grounded on information processing for an explanation of how humans capture, store and contemplate the world around them. Cognitive science, however, seems inferior as it bases is inquiry within the knowledge processing metaphor and its derivations regarding mental processes are just as subjective as they can be to the level at which the metaphor is subjective (Goldsmith et al., 1991). It is said that arguments that are not based on subjectivity to explain their intention are just weak. If unaccounted for, subjectivism may lead to poor science, a reason behaviorism is preferred to cognitivism.

Although in cognitivism exposure is plenty, it may not be necessary just as it is in behaviorism. The behaviorist theory aims at exposure although in a linguistically controlled technique. Besides being plenty, the cognitivist theory also bases its exposures on innate capacities of a learner. However, without such much information, the cognitivist theory ceases to exist. Provided with little but necessary exposure, behaviorists, would be more advantaged than cognitivist theorists, a reason why it is a preferable philosophy of science.

Practice is important for both approaches of philosophy. However, the behaviorist theory views practice as necessary, and that constant repetition should be made to achieve the targets (Watson, 1997). On the other hand, the cognitivist theory terms practice as important but do not stress on repetition, and neither does it do on repetition. The behaviorist theory, through its constant stresses on repetition, therefore is more effective as compared to the cognitivist theory, making it the best preferable movement.

In the cognitivist theory, it is the teacher who creates opportunities regarding learning and the necessary environment with the assistance of the learners data processing abilities (Andersen et al., 1981). However, the behaviorist theory encompasses teachers who teach, plan and present language exercise and items, making students repeat drills and provide the most effective forms of language. Through its repetition ability, the behaviorist theory outweighs the cognitivist theory since the creation of opportunities for learning is not just as important as keeping it in practice (Christenson & Menzel, 1998), a reason it is the most preferred.

Stimulus is an important aspect of the learning process. In cognitivism, the audience may process, store and get all necessary information for future use and make up a knowledge that is important in life but not stress on stimuli. Through their ability to process information, learners are known to transfer and contemplate new information. However, through the cognitive process, response to stimuli makes them gain positive attitude to learning. Scientists would prefer the behaviorist theory because of its unique characteristic of depending on stimuli.

Behaviorists believe that learning is sequential and hierarchical. Although both appreciate previous knowledge to determine what should be taught, their difference comes in when cognitive psychologists believe in the rearrangement of existing knowledge (Schoenfeld & Herrmann, 1982). The behavioral approach can, therefore, be easy to use than the cognitive approach. Most scientists would prefer a hierarchical model of teaching as it outweighs rearrangement of information as it would take long to rearrange information and which may not be accurate.

Development of cognitivism was aimed at making the behaviorist theory complex and focus more on thinking, problem-solving, concept, language and information formation, and processing (Karagiorgi & Symeou, 2005). Behaviorism was too simple as it could focus on a stimulus-response view in explaining behaviors such as communication and language. With its reliance on the mind and the computer, cognitivism usually seems too complex for most scientists (Reyes and Sison, 2002) making them prefer behaviorism to cognitivism.

Behaviorism precedes the cognitivist worldview. Behaviorism aims to reject structuralism and just extend the common logical positivism. Although replaced in the 1960s, behaviorisms assumption of a passive learner shapes the subjects either positively or negatively. Trough punishment, a certain behavior will not likely happen again and hence learning becomes the change of behavior of the learner. With the view of the human as an information processor, sufficient evidence cannot precede cognitivism, making theorists prefer behaviorism to cog...

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