Behaviouralism is something clear and distinct from ‘behaviourism’, which is a concept of a school of psychology originating with J.B. Watson, later vigorously revived by B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) in his Beyond Freedom and Dignity, 1971. Early behaviourists aimed at eliminating all subjective data, such as values, intentions, desires, etc.; from research on human behaviour, and studied on the patterns of Physics and Biology.
They analysed relationship between Stimulus (S) and Response (R) in human organism, which was regarded as a black box. Nothing was known about the black box. Later on, psychologists realised the role of subjective entities and experiences, and included Organism (man – O), reforming their paradigm as S-O-R. Skinner reiterates behaviouristic position that all psychological functions can be explained in terms of muscular reactions and glandular secretions, and nothing more.
It is, therefore, the objective study of the stimulus and response aspects of behaviour. Man can ensure a safe future by controlling his behaviour redesigning the environment, for the environment controls man. Skinner has rejected the theory of ‘inner man’ or ‘autonomous’ man who, in fact, man is a creature of environment, and behaves accordingly. ‘Choice’, ‘dignity’, ‘freedom’, etc., should be considered from the view of controlling environment.
Man can design or control his environment, and develop desirable patterns of behaviour. But Political Science can never neglect the importance of feelings, motivation, reason, choice, etc., and rather gives them the central place. Environment is important, but secondary to ‘essentials’ or essence of human personality. Therefore, behaviouralism, despite some methodological resemblance, remains totally different from behaviourism.
Behaviouralism should also not be equated with empiricism. Empiricism is wider than behaviouralism, and includes evidence of history, prevailing culture and personal inner experience. It is partly scientific, whereas behaviouralism emphasises on per cent, direct or indirect sensory experience, and subjects it to scientific method, and inter-subjective communicability.