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The Rise and Fall of Behaviorism: The Narrative and the Numbers

Braat, Michiel and Engelen, Jan and van Gemert, Ties and Verhaegh, Sander (2020) The Rise and Fall of Behaviorism: The Narrative and the Numbers. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The history of twentieth-century American psychology is often depicted as a history of the rise and fall of behaviorism. Although historians disagree about the theoretical and social factors that have contributed to the development of experimental psychology, there is widespread consensus about the growing and (later) declining influence of behaviorism between approximately 1920 and 1970. Since such wide-scope claims about the development of American psychology are typically based on small and unrepresentative samples of historical data, however, the question rises to what extent the received view is justified. This paper aims to answer this question in two ways. First, we use advanced scientometric tools (e.g. bibliometric mapping, co-citation analysis, and term co-occurrence analysis) to quantitatively analyze the metadata of 119.278 papers published in American journals between 1920 and 1970. We reconstruct the development and structure of American psychology using co-citation and co-occurrence networks and argue that the standard story needs reappraising. Second, we argue that the question whether behaviorism was the ‘dominant’ school of American psychology is historically misleading to begin with. Using the results of our bibliometric analyses, we argue that questions about the development of American psychology deserve more fine-grained answers.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Braat, Michielmichiel_braat@hotmail.com
Engelen, Janj.a.a.engelen@uvt.nl
van Gemert, Tiestiesvangemert@gmail.com
Verhaegh, Sandera.a.verhaegh@uvt.nl
Keywords: Behaviorism; history of psychology; bibliometrics; Behavior analysis; Cognitive turn; Skinner; Watson; Hull; Tolman; scientometrics
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr Sander Verhaegh
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 23:59
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2020 23:59
Item ID: 16865
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1037/hop0000146
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 29 January 2020
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16865

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