J. B. Watson


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Watson, John Broadus

He would earn every penny. He was about to revolutionise the advertising industry.

Stimulus-Response Theory: Controlling and Molding Desired Behavior Patterns

What was important was provoking an emotional response — fear, anger though not too much anger , love. The campaign was specifically targeted at middle-class white mothers, and the language used was carefully selected. The idea was to make the women afraid for their children, and afraid to be seen as bad mothers if they failed to use the powder. Naturally the campaign was a huge success. He had noted hero worship as a genuine phenomenon — people reacted emotionally to people they admired. By having those heroes associate with his products, he ensured that the same positive emotions were transferred to it.

Soon the face cream was once again a big seller. For example, in the mid s many women were taking up smoking as part of a way to show themselves to be thoroughly modern and sophisticated. Watson designed a series of adverts that revolved around a woman seductively smoking a cigarette, with the copy implying that she could do so without fear of harming her attractiveness because she used Pebeco Toothpaste.

Thus the toothpaste was directly linked to sexuality and sexual need, a big step up in effectiveness from the usual health-based advertising. By the s Watson was recognised as one of the foremost commercial psychologists in America. He applied his expertise not just to marketing, but also to management. His belief was that the ideal employee was one who was self-motivating, one to whom his job became an integral part of his identity.


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The poisonous consequences of this type of approach, and the havoc it can wreak on unfortunate employees, lingers in the workplace to this day. Watson may have moved out of academia, but he had not finished preaching the gospel of behaviourism. McDougall preached a form of Lamarckian-style psychology, where children inherited drives that their parents had developed in life. He was abhorred by the psychological establishment, who felt that his views and high profile imperilled a quarter-century of work that had been done to establish psychology as a science.

The article seems to be an expansion on ideas he had previously stated in his book Psychological Care of Infant and Child. He spoke admiringly of the practice of child labour, and placed the blame for all modern ills on the affection parents showed to their children. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap.

If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night.

John B Watson Biography and Books: The Father of Behaviorism

Shake hands with them in the morning. Give them a pat on the head if they have made an extraordinarily good job of a difficult task. To prevent this, Watson suggested that breast feeding be prohibited, that mothers be prevented from knowing the identity of their children, and that children be rotated among parents at four week intervals until they reached the age of twenty. In Rosalie died suddenly of pneumonia. Over the previous fifteen years she had become the only one capable of drawing him out of his shell and into social engagements.

With her gone, a mixture of grief and natural disposition caused the year old Watson to become more and more reclusive. He had had two sons with Rosie, but his beliefs had led him to deliberately keep an emotional distance from them that would lead to complete estrangement as they grew up. In he retired from advertising, and moved to Connecticut where he lived a hermit-like existence. Revealingly the one-time country boy had bought a farm, and his old age mirrored the patterns of his youth — falling into the rhythm of feeding and caring for animals and growing fruit trees.

In the American Psychological Association wished to make him the guest of honour at their annual meeting, but Watson turned them down at the last minute. He sent his son in his stead, as he was worried he might break down and cry. A year later, aged eighty years old, he died on his farm. The advertising revolution he spawned, based on emotional resonance over facts, continues unabated to this day.

Images via wikimedia , Furman University and Alchetron except where stated. This article was inspired by Psycomedia and the book Mechanical Man. Ciaran lives in Belfast, where he programs professionally and writes compulsively. See more of his writing and blogging at www.


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  7. Rosalie died in agony the next day, June 19, Hartley, Mariette. Kindle Edition. Cookies are yum so we use them to make your HeadStuff experience more yummy. If you want to know more about our chocolate chips, please visit our Privacy Policy page. Powered By Square1. Subscribe to our newsletter. Terrible People from History Psychology. By Ciaran Conliffe Last updated Apr 23, His poor relationship with her was a big influence on his life. Watson at Furman University Psychology as a discipline was still in its infancy at the time, and it was a good place for an ambitious man to make his mark.

    Continue Reading. You might also like More from author Terrible People from History. Terrible People from History. Prev Next. Lots and lots of interesting stuff here. Do you have a version of this with your sources listed? Couple of things you might update: Most sources say that Rosalie died in , and from severe diarrhea, not pneumonia. Thanks for the info! She hoped the move would afford Watson with more opportunities in life. In many ways, the move did. Through living in a more populated area, Watson saw a newer and more diverse group of people. It can be said these experiences helped him gain the insights he would later draw on in his later work in behaviorist psychology.

    Unlike many other influential figures in psychology, John B. Watson was not known for his early academic successes.

    Books by John B. Watson

    In fact, Watson was a very poor performer in school. He also had quite a number of disciplinary issues. Prior to enrolling in the university, few gave Watson much of a chance for success. Teachers deemed him lazy and insubordinate. On the university level, Watson showed an incredible turnaround. What truly plagued him during this time was the fact he knew he utterly lacked social skills. Watson had very few friends and he never truly understood how to overcome his social foibles and connect with others.

    Watson was able to enroll in the University of Chicago. During this time he made strong connections with a great many people on the faculty. His relationships with these people influenced his interest and study of psychology and aided in his own trailblazing ventures into the research of behaviorism. His Ph.


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    The roots of his insights into behaviorism are present in this dissertation. Soon after earning his Ph.

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    A disastrous scandal emerged when he was caught having an affair with a graduate assistant. This led to his dismissal from the faculty and also a divorce. The complex article would go on and explain that human beings should be observed in a manner not much removed from how animals are studied.

    In essence, human beings should be examined from a natural science perspective. Most importantly, he rejected the notion psychology should be based on the study of consciousness.

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