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Black Box - Theory of Behaviorism

Name: Kartika Sari Dewi (743183)

Docent: Stefan Gammel
Seminar: Philosophie des Geistes
Wintersemester 2015/16
Commentary written in englisch

Black Box
Theory of Behaviourism
A brief overview of Behaviorism
Behaviorism is the belief that mental states can be explained by
reference to the objective and observable components of behavior.
Behaviorism is more concerned with behavior, what can be directly seen,
like the law-like relationship between stimulis and responses. To
behaviorists, the human mind is unobservable and it can never be
measured. In Behaviorism, the mind could be assumed and treated as the
Black Box, whose inner workings of the sytem is impossible to know
because there is no access into it. This view can be called the black
box theory of mind.
Black Box Theory
Black Box Theory is where the mind could be fully understood once the
inputs and outputs are well described without knowledge of the inner
workings of system or how the output is obtained from the input. This
theory is applied to any field, like philosophy, psychology, science or
in other ways where the relations between the event coming into sight.
How does the mind work? Behaviorists made a simple set of steps for how
the mind works. First, we know that 'mind', is inaccessible and what's
going on inside of mind is also irrelevant, sealed and closed but the
only way we know what is going on in the mind is to look at observable
behavior, which is primarily determined by environmental contingencies
(input) that are coming in as stimulus. This influence behavior which
happens in response to some environmental event and after it goes across
the black box. Lastly is the response as the consequences, which could be
good or bad, are going to be added to the black box and affect as in the
response to future stimuli.
Examples of Black Box
The behaviorists postulated that the organism could be studied by
selectively presenting stimuli to the black box. Then something happens
in the person, which we can't observe, what we could see is responses
given off by the organism. For example, a person is giving a stimuli,
like she/he is given a raise after doing good performance at work. The
response could be, that she/he would be working harder in the future.
This example could be called 'reinforcement'. Another example is putting
an orange in on one side, the response would be the orange fall out the
other side. What happens in the box could be explained by for example

'conveyor belt', meaning is, the box is full with oranges. Another
explanation is 'alternate universe', where the orange goes through.
What if the response is another fruit that falls out on the other side?
Therefore the explanation theories like the box full with oranges and
conveyor belt should be change, because no longer work. Another Problem
would be, if stimulus is given to two different people and the responses
are the same. The question is, what happened in the minds (black box)?
Did the same thing go through 'black box' (the minds) of both people?
Watson said that it doesn't matter if the same thing goes through their
minds or not. He believes that consciousness can't be studied, therefore
he claimed that what's in the 'black box' of people's minds is
Skinner thought that it's irrelevant, what goes through people's minds.
He thought that the important thing is to understand the relationships
between input (stimulus) and output (response) through the 'black box'.
Cognitive psychologists would answer, what may be going on in the 'black
box', which is very different cognitions or thoughts. These could be
studied, for example a) by experiment, b) by examining in contrast
between patients, that have brain-damaged, c) by establishing
computational models and d) by scanning the brain
Uses of the Black Box
The Black Box Theory could be adopted in humanity such as in marketing
field to analyse consumer behaviour. For Example, the advertiser pairs
good music and attractive people with their products in advertisement. It
could make the consumers buying the product.
Critcs of the Black Box
The 'Black Box' of behaviorism is the most usual target of criticism by
non-behaviorists. It deprives any chance to develop a causal relationship
within the mind and it makes behaviorism simply just as a functional
input-output modell like input enters and output exits. Behaviorists are
also simplified the mental process by considering it as unobservable,
because to explain the mental process would be irrelevant. They deny that
specific motivation could affect behavior. For them, just environment
that could be the key of influencing behavior.