What Is Neobehaviorism?

Neobehaviorism is a school of thought that posits that the study of learning and a focus on rigorous objective observational methods form the key to scientific psychology. Neobehaviorism is the second phase of behaviorism, which was closely associated with B.F. Skinner, Clark Hull and Edward C. Tolman.

In contrast to behaviorists, neobehaviorists tried to formalize behavioral laws and drew influence from positivists including Herbert Feigl, Otto Neurath and Rudolf Carnap. These logical positivists believed that anything that could not be proven through science via physical observations was nonsense or metaphysics. Knowledge must be built by observations and verified by observations.

Hull is considered the most ambitious of the neobehaviorists, and he is largely credited with constructing the formal theory of behavior. He founded the law of stimulus generalization that stated that a response could be received by unconventional stimulus if the stimulus was associated with a stimulus that caused a response.

Skinner, who published his ideas in several works, argued that science was based entirely in observation and that hypotheses and theories had little to do with it. He believed that behavior could be controlled and shape through reinforcements or rewards. Skinner’s philosophies were used during the mid-20th century in psychiatric institutions and penal facilities.