“Behave” is the story of Rosalie Rayner Watson, the wife of John B. Watson, the founder of behaviorist psychology. Written by Andromeda Romano-Lax, the story begins with Rosalie’s graduation from Vassar College in 1920 and follows her life and career until her death in 1935.
Upon graduation from Vassar the young and ambitious Rosalie was chosen by John Watson for the coveted research assistant position at Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Rosalie worked with John Watson and performed experiments on hundreds of babies to prove Watson’s behaviorist principals.
Rosalie helped John write his 1928 parenting guide. During this time at Johns Hopkins, the two began an affair that cost them both their jobs at Johns Hopkins, his marriage to his wife Mary, and the Rayner family their reputation. John and Rosalie left the academic life, were married, moved to New York City. John went to work for J. Walter Thompson, an ad agency.
Rosalie continued to support her husband’s work. She was not only a scientist, but also Mrs. John Watson. With the birth of their two sons, Rosalie “the mother” often conflicted with Rosalie “the behavioral psychology scientist.” Rosalie often had to hide her affection towards her sons from her husband, because he believed kissing and hugging children destroyed them. She was often conflicted in her beliefs on child rearing.
Although this book is a fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, readers can learn what a brilliant, complex woman Rosalie was, how influential her work with John Watson was, and how her contributions have been lost in her famous husband’s shadow.
“Behave” is a story of science, ambition, fear, love and marriage. It will keep you reading and wondering.