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The behaviourist believes that thinking in the narrow sense where new adjustments are made corresponds to the trial-and-error process in manual learning. The process as a whole consists in the organized interplay of laryngeal and related muscular activity used in word responses and substitutive word responses; that is, the motor stage is not always necessarily situated in or even near the larynx. I would write up the process as I infer that it goes on somewhat as follows, drawing my analogy from the wealth of facts we have collected about manual activity. If I hand a subject a mechanical problem box rather large in size and ask him to solve it, I note the movements of the hand, the wrist and even the large muscles of the shoulder as he turns the mechanism from side to side. If, before he finishes solving it, I hand him the same apparatus only reduced to one-tenth of its size he continues his manipulations in approximately the same way, but the amplitude of the muscular response is greatly reduced and many of the movements of the large muscles drop out. The two types of activity are, however, in essence essentially the same. When it comes to thinking we have the following facts: children in large measure think aloud and many adults either think aloud or, if not quite aloud, at least overtly. In others thinking is reduced to such an extent that the bystander can observe only the response of the lips, the jaws and occasionally tongue movements. But the great majority of subjects pass beyond this stage and all observable explicit activity directly connected with the process of thinking disappears (there may still be explicit factors remaining such as walking, wrinkling the brow, sweating, etc.). Having watched in genetic psychology the growth of such processes, having made numerous individuals think aloud in solving their problem, what right have I to assume that the process entirely changes its character when it becomes implicit? Here I call attention to Mr. Pear's analysis. He says that the behaviourist catches only the perchings of thought, 'When we recall Professor James's description of thought as a series of flights and perchings, it seems that the behaviourist has given us an account of some kinds of perchings, and, fascinating as it is, it reads like a description of flying by an aerodrome mechanic, who sees only the last stages of the aviator's descent.' But surely Mr. Pear here is hoisted by his own petard. It would be unkind to rob his remarks of their sting by saying that only a well trained aerodrome mechanic can give, after watching a descent, a scientific description of it. The question [p. 99] I would ask Mr. Pear is, what logical right has he to assume that the flight goes on in any different way when it is not under the observation of the mechanic? Surely if we have enough mechanics stationed along the course to watch the entire flight, their combined report would be a faithful account of the flight as a whole. William James's account of transitional states and perchings illustrates very well a fallacy into which Mr. Pear and nearly all other psychologists fall, viz., if any part of the process is beyond the range of the bystander's immediate observation he, the bystander, has the right to assume that something unusually interesting and mysterious may go on at the unobserved points. But since the mysterious never happens when the process is under direct observation, the logical fallacy of assuming that something different does go on is obvious. The motive behind James's classical illustration is not difficult to find. It is the motive behind the resistance to the behaviourist's view of thought and its roots lie in mysticism and early religious trends.

Another similar fallacy runs through both Mr. Pear's paper and that of Mr. Bartlett and Miss Smith, namely that the expression of a thought in some kind of implicit or explicit verbal action or in general bodily movement is not necessarily thought. Mr. Pear uses the illustration of a skater making the figure eight, whereas Mr. Bartlett and Miss Smith show dissatisfaction with my simple illustration of a golf player. The figure eight, Mr. Pear tells us, is not skating, but is the result of an act of skating. The roots of these objections lie in the fact that these authors are discussing behaviourism not from the behaviourist's own premises but from those of a structural psychologist. Why should a scientific observer of skating stop, upon beholding the figure eight made by some particular performer? He might wonder at its regularity, its smoothness and the like, but he would say, 'My quest is the goose that laid this golden egg.' In studying skating, he would take up the whole system of responses of the skater from and including the moment of fastening on the skates until they were removed. His observation would concern itself with arm and leg movements, the way the ankles function, the compensatory movements of the trunk, with the effort put forth by the skater as shown by the ease and grace of the movements, with the fact as to whether he was perspiring or whether he showed only signs of exhilaration or other emotional changes, etc. Nor would he neglect the tracings made on the ice by the skater's various movements. He would go further and take up the question of the type of training required for such adeptness, of the length of the training period and the age at which [p. 100] such training should begin. In other words, his final data would be sufficient for answering all questions which might be asked about the whole process of fancy figure-skating. After he had made a complete and searching analysis, what would be lacking? The individual's own account, of course. For the sake of completeness we will take it down. Our claim is that, in the great majority of cases, a report by the subject throws very little light upon the act he is engaged in. Let us ask him the question, however, 'What were you thinking about while you were skating?' Holt has brought out in his Freudian Wish the reply one usually gets to such a question. I shall take the liberty of rephrasing Holt's example so that it will fit the present case. 'What was I thinking about? I was wondering whether that 'queen' over there in the red sweater was watching me'!

In a similar vein Mr. Bartlett and Miss Smith object to the following statement of mine: 'When we study implicitly bodily processes we are studying thought; just as when we study the way a golfer stands in addressing his ball and swinging his club we are studying golf.' Their objection appears in the following words: 'But to say that we are studying 'golf' in the second case is to assume that 'golf' -- the structure and character of the game itself -- is identical with how a given player plays golf.' I fail to see any special force in this objection. What I want to know when I have a given individual under observation is how he thinks or how he plays golf. Perhaps I should have worded it differently: When we study an individual's implicit bodily processes we are studying his thinking; and when we study the way a golfer stands in addressing his ball, in swinging his clubs, etc., we are studying the way he plays golf. But let us study many other individuals, both their implicit bodily processes (thought) and their golf playing. Let us write down what we see, and record movements in motion pictures and use all possible methods and instrumentation in our quest. In the end we shall arrive at a monograph on thinking and at another on golf playing. Destroy all books on golf and a man from Mars in a month's time, never having seen the game, could, by watching individuals play, write a decent manual on the rules, structure and technique of golf. After having made as searching an analysis as we like upon several players' playing of golf, what will be left out? The individuals' own accounts. Again suppose we take down their overt responses to any questions we may ask and incorporate them into our record. They are of relatively little value. No one since objective studies upon golf have been made trusts the verbal report of a golf player. He will tell you that he never takes his eyes off the ball when [p. 101] making a stroke. The cinema shows that he is a prevaricator. I have never been able to get one valuable scientific statement from a golf player. He does not know how he holds his hands, he cannot tell how he stands, nor the arc he makes with his club, nor whether the arc can vary within wide limits and not affect his stroke. He knows practically nothing about the condition his body is in. To verify this, one needs only to play with a man whose driving has gone off a bit and who has to resort again to trial and error for correction. He asks after every failure, 'What did I do that time? Did I bend my body? Did I move my foot?' and so on. A most interesting illustration of the failure of a tennis player to be able to give any worth-while verbal report came to my hands while preparing this paper. A took up tennis again after a ten-year period of non-practice. He played against B. On the first day his form was pitiful to behold. He stooped at every stroke and twisted his body in every conceivable way. He played five sets and failed to get a game in any set. The score was deuce on only two occasions. On the second day the score was deuce several times and he won one game. He put over several good serves and his form showed great improvement. On the third day there was again steady improvement in form. The returns were swift, and fully fifty per cent. of his first serves were good. On the fourth day he won three games in succession but he was still unable to win a set. All the way through he was terribly discouraged. He had formerly been a fair player with a good serve. He kept saying to his opponent, 'I play worse than I did the first day, my wrist is not flexible, I can't get the knack of serving the ball the way I used to, I have forgotten how and when to play the net and to place my balls.' It was not until B pointed out the objective facts indicated above that A was convinced that his playing had improved.

It would be folly to say that in no case is a verbal report wholly without service. To enumerate the places where it is of service is not particularly pertinent to our present discussion.

Politica de confidentialitate



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