A Behaviorist Looks at Form Recognition
Psychology Press – 2002 – 286 pages
For many years behaviorism was criticized because it rejected the study of perception. This rejection was based on the extreme view that percepts were internal subjective experiences and thus not subject to examination. This book argues that this logic is incorrect and shows how visual perception, particularized in the study of form recognition, can be carried out from the behavioral point of view if certain constraints and limitations are understood and accepted. The book discusses the idea of representation of forms, considers the major historical neural, psychological, and computational theories of form recognition, and then concludes by presenting a modern approach to the problem.
In this book, William Uttal continues his critical analysis of the foundations of modern psychology. He is particularly concerned with the logical and conceptual foundations of visual perception and uses form recognition as a vehicle to rationalize the discrepancies between classic behaviorism and what we now appreciate are legitimate research areas.
"…the book is thoughtful, scholarly, and well written. He presents the case against cognitive and psychological reductionism. For those in psychology who are operating within the current cognitive science Zeitgeist, this book should be read and carefully considered. Uttal is presenting one side of a debate-a debate, once enjoined, that has the potential for sharpening the scientific research in form perception".
"…Uttal's book offers the reader not only a profound review of the research literature on form recognition (theoretical approaches, models, and findings), but more particularly an evaluative and critical discussion from both methodological and philosophical viewpoints. He does not hesitate to describe the many weaknesses of the cognitive-computational and neurophysiological approaches to this research, and as an attractive alternative suggests modern behaviorism. Every researcher who studies form recognition will benefit greatly from reading this book, and will get a critical perspective of where the field is heading."
—Contemporary Psychology APA REVIEW OF BOOKS
Contents: Preface. The Form Recognition Problem: Introduction and Preview. On the Specification of Form or How to Represent a Face That It May Be Recognized. The Psychophysical Data. Theories of Form Recognition. Summary and Conclusions.