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The behaviourist differs from his older brethren chiefly on the question of method. He applies to psychology which he calls the study of human nature or human behaviour the quantitative methods of science. Only from the objective facts of human behaviour does he deduce conclusions about the nature of the mind. The laboratory rather than the library is the work-room of the behaviourist. He uses a mechanical equipment comparable to that of a physicist, he maintains elaborate systems of record, and he has developed a highly specialized technique. Whether the psychologist labels himself a behaviourist or not, i.e. whether he considers mind merely a hypothesis which psychology may or may not establish, it is this method which is revolutionizing the science, has indeed made it a science rather than a subdivision of philosophy.
All this is a far cry from the relatively simple psychology of John Stuart Mill and his group. At least the lesser minds of the group summed up human activities as pleasure-seeking or pain-avoiding. The greater the intelligence, the more pleasure was a rational aim and the less the choice of feeling. Men's actions were and ought to be calculated according to the interest of the individual or 'the greatest good of the greatest number.' Though James Mill was a historian, the group which surrounded himself and his son had no sense of history or of evolution, and their methods were purely analytical and logical. Though they had left behind the 'nonsense on stilts' of the natural rights school, they had no more idea of social growth and development than had Tom Paine and very much less than had Adam Smith. Roscher said with justice of J. S. Mill, 'He is not ein historischer Kopf. Free choice and reason played a part in Mill's view of human nature much larger than is allowed it to-day by psychologists who teach us that the basis of our nature is inherited and that circumstances build upon that a personality which controls our actions though we be for the most part unconscious of it.
All social science is based on assumptions about human nature. The beginning of Aristotle's Politics is to be found in the Nicomachean Ethics which sets forth the none too flattering Aristotelian view of human nature. The Machiavellian assumptions of the frailty of mankind are notorious and the solid
fame of this author rests on the substantial reality of that view. The Political Economy of John Stuart Mill is just as closely related to his pleasure and pain psychology. It is well to note, however, that in the writings of Mill himself a sound knowledge of human nature constantly broke into the habitual Benthamite psychology, like nature into Whistler's pictures. To lesser men of the school, man became 'the economic man' who always fathomed his own interest, a rational calculating creature, at the worst seeking his own interest and at the best finding his interest in that of the group. On this basis it was easy to lay down economic 'laws' because in a given situation the dictates of interest were clear.
Such was the basis of classical economics. Now the 'new' psychologist tells us like Molière's doctor, 'we have changed all that.' The basis of economic science has been changed. To what extent has the advent of the 'new' psychology discredited the progress of economics on the basis of the old? This is the problem which has been set out at length in Dickinson's Economic Motives and it is a problem in which all economists are vitally interested.
The psychologist has not infrequently complained that social scientists were inadequately trained in psychology, which was the basis of their study, and it is quite true that few economists have more than an elementary knowledge of psychology. To some extent this has been their salvation. Great changes have taken place in economics in the past generation, but they were not occasioned by changes in psychology. This was true because economists had made their own analysis of human nature and were behaviourists before psychologists had parted company with the older introspective method. As Drever notes, Marshall had defined economics as a study of man's actions in the ordinary business of life', just as any behaviourist might have defined his science years before Watson and others had formulated their methods. Even in the days of Mill the economist has based his science on the facts of human actions rather than on analysis of motives arrived at by introspection. On the whole the self-interest posited by the economist still holds good. No economist of repute ever set it forth as a guide to individual action, not
even the half-bred and half-witted Scotchman who taught the deliberate blasphemy, "Thou shalt hate the Lord thy God, damn his laws and covet thy neighbour's goods'. It was put forward as a working generalization covering large numbers of people. Common observation resulted in the conclusion that high wages do attract more labour. That did not shut out the possibility that a thousand and one reasons might influence one John Smith to sell his labour at less than the market rate. It merely provided a fairly reliable basis upon which to shape policy.
Later, instead of depending on deceptive common observations of human conduct the economist began to employ statistical records which set forth the behaviour of groups of people in certain circumstances. It is significant that the theory of international trade, where statistics were first available, reached a high state of perfection before other branches of theory. The economist as such does not assume an 'economic man' nor does he assume that individual men will act according to his theory. The insurance agent who tells you that the life expectancy of your profession is ten years less than that of some other does not suggest that your days are necessarily so numbered. He is merely generalizing for the group and his generalization is sound enough to base his policy on. So when the economist says that self-interest will lead retailers to shift a receipts tax to the consumer he merely makes a generalization, which will not fit each individual and does not impugn the altruism of any retailer, but which is a sound guide to policy. As such the development of the 'new' psychology has affected the broad structure of economic theory very little. Indeed psychology has borrowed somewhat from economics, which explored the field of behaviourism in terms of large numbers before the psychologist entered it to deal with individual cases and those of groups.
When we turn, however, to industry, to business rather than to economics, great changes are likely to result from the revelations of the 'new' psychology. This field has recently been enriched by the addition of Drever's Psychology of Industry, and Watt's Introduction to the Psychological Problems of Industry, which set forth similar points of view. Psy
chology is here brought to bear on specific problems which have confronted the business man and has applied quantitative methods to their solution. Along with a good deal of mediocre work and expressing of commonplaces in severely technical terms, much excellent work has been done. The best of it falls into the fields of the selection of workers, efficiency and fatigue, advertising and selling, the psychological basis for industrial unrest, and the study of the creative impulse in industry.
In regard to the selection of the workers, definitive results are few. Intelligence tests of ingenious character have been evolved which do reduce the chances of employing incompetent help. In a few cases trade tests have been adopted, but success with them has been less frequent. There is every hope that something substantial will be gained but there is a very great deal to be done before workers can be ticketed according to the results of such tests. Army Mental Tests bear little relation to the employment of mechanics or salesmen and only with years of experimentation can such tests be accurately adjusted so as really to test the essential kinds of intelligence required in certain types of work, and to allow for emotional disturbances which invalidate much of the results of intelligence tests. No wise firm trusts indiscriminately to such tests but many are earnestly endeavouring to formulate a test which will yield useful results. This is work for the psychologist, but the psychologist who undertakes it must be prepared to learn much of the technique of industry.
Perhaps the greatest service which psychology can offer at present is in the study of fatigue. It has been successfully shown that accidents increase with fatigue, that the quality of work deteriorates and that excessive fatigue may produce serious individual and social problems. The whole case for the six hour day rests on the effect which the shortening of the working day will have upon fatigue and the efficiency of work. As in the oft-cited case of the Gilbreth frame for bricklayers, fatigue may be cut down by careful planning and the elimination of useless movements. Up to the present the industrial engineer has done most in this field, but the stage has now been reached, according to the British Report
on Industrial Fatigue, when it is necessary to consider whether movements which are mechanically wasteful are not actually efficient in that they assist recovery from fatigue. This can only be decided when the psychologist has set himself to the experimental task of measuring fatigue and analysing specific causes. In this field we are as yet in the dark.
It is perhaps in questions relating to labour that the older psychology has led us furthest astray. The wage system is based on the assumption of a calculating self-interested workman whose aims are not of a very high order. If a very large number is taken this view is substantially correct but it is of little value for dealing with a relatively small working force. Modern management finds constant necessity to satisfy varying human nature. It is this which calls forth books inaccurately named The Human Side of Labour, and so forth. The plea is for a wider and truer psychology which admits the facts of an inherited basis of human nature which must find expression if mental health is to be retained. The essential fact is that if industry is to occupy most of the waking hours of men it must satisfy the impulses of their nature and if industry cannot satisfy these it must grant sufficient leisure in which the worker can find compensation for the restricted mental environment of the factory. The psychologist who has also a grounding in economics may well apply himself to the problem of whether a system of organization such as is put forward by the exponents of scientific management which has certain material results to justify its efficiency, is not inefficient when a longer view is taken and the development of the people engaged in the industry is considered. Without the psychologist or some one who may take his place the dispute between the Taylor system and the Trade Union can never be satisfactorily settled.
Though the phrase is vague, the place of the creative impulse in industry is the most interesting point at which psychology and economics touch. It is generally accepted that whether it be termed the creative impulse, or, with Taussig, the instinct of contrivance, or with Veblen the instinct of workmanship, there is a basic tendency for our natures to express themselves in some creative art. The best work is