PSYU 351 – Understanding of Psychology Letters

An analysis of a text is crucial in helping us understanding any psychology text.This paper will analyze a letter that was written by John Watson to Robert M. Yerkes by on April 7, 1913. It will also look into the similarities and differences between Yerkes and Watson as well as those between Titchener and Watson.

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Similarities and difference between Yerkes and Watson


Robert Mearns Yerkes is among the individuals who played a significant role in developing American Psychology. He led the study on infrahuman animals’ behavior, which helped emphasize on the American Psychology’s strong biological cast (Benjamin, 2006). His work, comparative psychobiology, preceded the development of behaviorism and transformed Gestalt psychology.Yerkes also discovered that psychology also dealt with people and he used his position as the American psychologist chairperson to prepare programs, which used the army personnel for experimental purposes. Robert Yerkes is renown for his contribution in comparative psychology that involves Chimpanzees and Apes (Cohen, 1979). His work was highly influenced by Darwinism and most of it emphasized that the disparity between the infrahuman and human beings was insignificant. Yerkes did not accept Watson’s behaviorism view and he also believed that consciousness was also an important part of psychology(Yerkes & Dodson, 1908).


John Watson was also a psychologist, just like Yerkes, but he believed that a physiologist was the observable behavior. This behaviorist point of view made him consider psychology as an objective experimental part of natural science. He believed that consciousness was not a part of experimental psychology and that only observation was required (McKeachie, 1976). He is renown for his ‘little Albert’ contentious experiment. In the experiment, he trained a boy child to dread a white mouse and whenever he would get in contact with the mice, he would get afraid (Cohen, 1979). Individuals who claimed that it was unethical largely criticized the experiment. Although both Yerkes and Watson used animals in their experiments, their objectives and findings were different; Watson believed that animals and brute were similar.

What does Watson mean by “I am not willing to turn psychology over to Titchener and his school”?

Watson meant that his point of view when it comes to psychology is different from that of Thitchener. He considers psychology to be a science while Thitchener considers it to be a technology. In the phrase, Watson was explaining that he was not willing to join Thitchener in taking psychology as a technology but he would instead prove that it is a science (Cohen, 1979). Watson, unlike Titchener did not believe in that consciousness was a part of psychology and he is using the phrase to explain to Yerkes that he was unwilling to change this belief.

How similar and different are Titchener and Watson in theory?


As discussed above, John Watson was a behaviorist psychologist who believed that introspection is a poor psychological method. He considered psychology to be the objective experimental part of natural science and he believed that consciousness did not have a place in such form of science, experimental psychology. He used both animals and human beings in his experiments and he concluded that animals and brutes were similar. According to him, psychology involve denvisaging and controlling behavior.

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Thitchener was also a psychologist but unlike Watson who dismisses the importance of consciousness in psychology, he believed that consciousness is an important part of psychology. He also did not conclude that introspection was poor for psychology since he believed that it was an act of observation and the concept was new and it was still in its development stages although its development was equivocal. Thitcher also believed that psychology required more mind than it did behavior, which is centrally to Watson’s belief that behavior was the only data required for psychology. The final difference between Watson and Thitchener was that while Watson believed that behavior is a science, Thitchener believed that behavior control is not a science but a technology.

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What does Watson mean by “I believe that it can be made a desirable field for work”?

Watson means that he believed that he is has too much attachment to psychology and he is determined to make studying psychology suitable for all psychiatrists. He is seen to suggest that psychology should be unified but he does not specify how this should be done. Watson is using the phrase to convince Yerkes that he should ignore consciousness of how psychology should be done and follow his school of thought based on his belief. He believes that although leaving psychology to introspectionists might be the most sensible thing to do, it is not the right thing to do.

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