The influence of behaviorism on American speech pedagogy during the early twentieth century

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

The purpose of this study was to discover how one prevalent psychological school of thought, behaviorism, influenced speech pedagogy during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Selected principles of speech as found in the professional literature of Charles H. Woolbert and James M. O'Neill were analyzed in the light of John Watson's tenets of behaviorism to discover how behaviorism affected the teaching of speech. The background leading to this behavioristic influence was studied in two areas. First, the development of scientific psychology from philosophy which culminated in behaviorism was discussed. Second, the trends of speech pedagogy in the nineteenth century which led to Woolbert's and O'Neill's endeavors to place speech on a behavioristic foundation were considered. The thesis revealed that behaviorism gave impetus to the finding of a new foundation for the speech discipline that was neither classical nor elocutionary. This accomplishment came about through Woolbert's and O'Neill's incorporation of behavioristic concepts into their major principles of speech pedagogy and through their use of behavioristic terminology to explain some of the major existing speech pedagogical theories and practices.