Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Bill Benzon (
Fri, 11 Sep 1998 08:38:08 -0400

Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 08:38:08 -0400
From: Bill Benzon <>
Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Mario Vaneechoutte wrote:

> Ton Maas wrote:
> > Mario wrote:
> > >Is thinking or talking to myself behaviour? It is my impression that social
> > >psychologists tend to deny that thinking even exists, since it results in no
> > >observable behaviour or artefact. It is an illusion. Am I right? Than I
> > >have to
> > >disagree with this kind of reasoning.
> >
> > Thinking or talking to yourself is not only behavior, it is
> > _communication_. After all, it is entirely possible to discover something
> > "new" (previously unknown to you) by simply talking/thinking to yourself.
> > There really is no fundamental difference. Information can be effectively
> > defined as the difference which makes a difference
> I cited this quote from Bateson in my symposium paper as well (although
> I erroneously ascribed it to be of Shannon)
> > and it doesn't matter
> > how or where that difference is made.
> Well, I would call this behaviour and communication as well. I fully
> agree. But if I understand correctly, then Derek, Bill(?) and Paul (who
> can be considered to be representative for social psychologists) would
> clearly dismiss this as behaviour, because it is not observable. Or at
> least they would say that it cannot be studied since it cannot be
> observed by physical behaviour.

Talking to oneself is certainly observable. And one can use EEG, PET, fMRI, etc.
to get observations about brain activation while a person is thinking. Further, a
good deal of cognitive psychology has been done useing something called protocol
analysis. A person is asked to perform some cognitive task and to do it while
"thinking out loud" as much as possible. They're tape recorded or even video-taped
and their words are transcribed and analyzed for clues about how they go about
solving the problem.

Bill B

William Benzon
Senior Scientist
Meta4 Incorporated
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Hoboken, NJ 07030 USA
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