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Radical Behaviorism

  1. Alexandra Rutherford

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0769

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Rutherford, A. 2010. Radical Behaviorism. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. York University, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Radical behaviorism is the philosophy of the science of behavior articulated by American psychologist B. F. Skinner (1904–1990). Radical behaviorism is often contrasted with the methodological behaviorism of Skinner's predecessor, John B. Watson (1878–1958). Watson insisted that observable behavior replace consciousness as psychology's subject matter, and that the prediction and control of behavior be adopted as psychology's ultimate theoretical goals. Watson formulated his position in direct response to what he saw as the limitations of the introspective study of consciousness that had dominated psychology during its first 30 years. Skinner was influenced by Watson's position, which he read in an account by Bertrand Russell just prior to undertaking graduate studies in psychology at Harvard University. Skinner was also influenced by the work of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov.


  • behaviorism;
  • empiricism;
  • logical positivism;
  • radical behaviorism