Behaviorism: Limited But Exacting, Or Comprehensive But Empty

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date


Published In

Contemporary Psychology


Barry Schwartz and Hugh Lacey comments on Steven Hayes's review (see record 2006-06410-004) of Schwartz and Lacey's book, Behaviorism, Science, and Human Nature (1982). Schwartz and Lacey say that in his curious review of their book, Hayes objects that they have constructed a straw behaviorist, one that is commonly portrayed by behaviorism's critics but is virtually unrecognizable to any contemporary behaviorist. He also objects that they have obliterated the distinction between behavior theory as science and behaviorism as-a philosophical worldview. Finally, he accuses them of presenting the principles of behavior theory in such a way as to make behavior theory an object of ridicule. In summary, contrary to what Hayes says in his review, behaviorism is not empty, and there is much to be learned from a careful study of it. It offers a perspective that is different from cognitive psychology or ethology, it offers many substantive empirical claims that are true at least under some circumstances, and there are many lessons to be drawn from its limitations and inadequacies.

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