E. C. Tolman and the intervening variable: A study in the epistemological history of psychology

Philosophy of Science 50 (2):268-282 (1983)
E. C. Tolman's 'purposive behaviorism' is commonly interpreted as an attempt to operationalize a cognitivist theory of learning by the use of the 'Intervening Variable' (IV). Tolman would thus be a counterinstance to an otherwise reliable correlation of cognitivism with realism, and S-R behaviorism with operationalism. A study of Tolman's epistemological background, with a careful reading of his methodological writings, shows the common interpretation to be false. Tolman was a cognitivist and a realist. His 'IV' has been systematically misinterpreted by both behaviorists and antibehaviorists. For this reason, Tolman's alliance with modern cognitivism and his influence on its development have been underestimated
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