Key Perspectives of Psychology

5 May 2017

Psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion and behaviour through scientific investigation. It studies both humans and animals. It relates to who we are as human beings, our capacity to think, reason and understand how life really works, it even throws light on the stresses we face. As infants we are unable to survive without others, we learn to adapt socially from the moment we are born. As a result of this social interaction we develop a sense of self.

We learn to communicate, verbally and non verbally, and develop shared beliefs to create a sense of society and e rely on mutual understanding to co exist. There are 3 key perspectives, Behaviourism, Psychodynamics and Humanism. Each has its own assumptions and explanations and each investigates/researches using different techniques eg Surveys, Questionnaires, Lab Experiments and Counselling. Behaviourism Behaviourists focus on understanding how and why behaviour happens. Either a theory seeks confirmation through experimentation or a general law is derived by a variety of data.

Key Perspectives of Psychology Essay Example

It uses scientific experiments that are observable and measurable, no speculation about mental processes is made. Main concepts: Classical conditioning Learning comes from association and experience. Reflexes and instincts can be conditioned to respond to neutral stimuli eg sound, sight, smell. Operant conditioning From reactions (consequences) to experiences, humans and animals learn to avoid or embrace those experiences. The responses are voluntary not reflex. Operants can be Reinforcers, positive and negative and Punishers.

Social learning theory Learning is developed by observing peoples behaviours and attitudes and how they are received by others. It attempts to understand the exchange and interaction between behavioural and environmental effects and tries to explain moral evelopment. Pavlov’s dogs – (Mcleod, S. A. 2007) (Source http://science. howstuffworks. com/environmental/life/zoology/mammals/dog- trainingl . ntm) Pavlov used classical conditioning to create a conditioned retlex response (salivation in expectation of food) from a neutral stimulus (bell). The bell was associated with the food by introducing them together.

He found that a higher order of conditioning was possible, and a second neutral stimulus could be associated with the first conditioned stimulus Eg A buzzer which buzz’s at the same time as the bell. Stimulus discrimination occurred with sounds similar to the bell. Extinction may happen and dogs may lose the association with the bell after a time without food being introduced, and spontaneous recovery can develop later. Humans can be classically conditioned to a higher degree and therefore it can be used to desensitise and treat phobias – conditioning them by associating them with posititve stimuli.

Advertisers use conditioning to sell products. Unethically, Nestle, whose baby milk ads associated better health and well being of babies with bottle milk, conditioned 3rd world mothers to use their costly products instead of healthier and free breast-milk. Skinners – (Mcleod, S. A. 2007) (Source http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/operant_conditioning_chamber) Skinner discovered operant conditioning using rats in a box. He used a positive stimulus (food) to encourage the rats to push a lever to get more food by positive reinforcement which strengthened their behaviour.

The rat had learned that its behaviour had consequences. Negative reinforcement meant that they learned to push the lever to stop an electric current, this reward also strengthened its behaviour. Punishment, either giving an electric shock or removing food, weakened behaviour and rats stopped pushing the lever. Operant conditioning is often used to modify the behaviour of children at home or in schools using rewards eg if the child behaves well they receive sweets; or punishment eg if the child misbehaves they are told to go to their room.

Students also learn new skills at college using suitable positive and negative reinforcement eg distinction grades (positive) or less homework (negative) for work well done. Businesses need sales to maintain growth, however a stimulus of high commissions on sales may positively reinforce the behaviour of selling unsuitable or overpriced products. Both case studies used good scientific methods, with observable behaviour and objective measurements giving reliable results. Additionally, the experiments can be repeated for experimental validity.

The theory is easily applied to use in therapy in humans. However, animals used human complexities (like freewill, memory, of genes and hormones)were not taken into account. The lab conditions were unnatural compared with a real life environment and lacked ecological validity. Indeed, Pavlov needed to operate on the dogs to insert tubes into the salivary glands. Both case studies raise issues with ethics: cages/boxes hich restrict movement, causing pain with electric currents. Animal experimentation is considered unethical now.

Psychodynamic perspective Psychodynamics encompasses the work of Freud and his followers eg Carl Jung, Erikson. It studies the relationship between conscious and unconscious motivations and the dynamics ot personality. It assumes that we are unaware ot most ot what controls our behaviour (unconscious mind) but that all behaviour has a cause/reason (deterministic). Freud (1865-1939) posed that different parts of the unconscious mind are in constant struggle, that our defence mechanisms (eg repression, regression, enial, projection) allow us to distort/deny reality, and that we all have sexual energy (libido).

Freud’s work revolved around the importance of cognitive behaviour in the first few years of life and its influence on normal or abnormal development of personality. He conceived mind as composed of 3 major systems, the ‘d, the ego and the superego: which develop as we grew over 5 psychosexual stages. The ld innate and fully unconscious. Driven by the pleasure principal, striving for instant gratification or avoidance of pain, it takes no account other’s desires or societys customs. The Ego develops in the conscious, preconscious and unconscious.

Awareness of ourselves and improper desires develop. Ego reasons with the id to ensure impulses are controlled. The Superego functions mainly in the unconscious. Consisting of the ego-ideal, telling us the rules of good behaviour, what we should be or do, and the conscience, telling us what is bad according to society, and what not to do or be. The 5 psychosexual stages: Oral, Anal , Phallic ,Latency, Genital. development-theory#) (Source: http://knol. google. com/k/human- Adult sexuality does not develop in everyone.

Freud believed that to develop a healthy personality, the id, the ego, and the superego must be balanced, and all emotional issues must be resolved at each stage. Psychopathology results if an individual does not pass through the stages and becomes fixated. For example, a person fixated at the oral stage could, among other things, exhibit symptoms of obsessive eating or smoking in adult life, anal fixation, which may be caused by too much punishment during toilet training, has two possible outcomes: the anal retentive or anal expulsive personality.

Little Hans (Mcleod, S. A. 2008) Freud suggested that the cause of his phobia was that his early experiences with his father developed into emotional conflicts, and these conflicts were unresolved (stuck in the phallic stage) and showing signs of displacement – redirecting emotions to a substitute target (the horse was a symbol for his father). Freud concluded that the boy focused his libido (sexual energy) on his mother and was afraid that his father would castrate him for desiring her – Oedipus complex.

This case study was particularly useful in revealing and treating the origins of abnormal behaviour. It provided a very in-depth picture producing lots of qualitative ata. In fact Freud argued that it was the special relationship between Hans and his father that allowed the discussions with the boy to be so detailed and so intimate. This aided in the understanding and the helping and treatment of Little Hans. Rat-Man dames Strachey Freud diagnosed Ernst as having an obsessional neurosis and he traced it back to childhood and discovered he had unresolved issues from the Genital stage.

When Ernst was young he had taken part in sexual foreplay with his nanny, according to Freud this resulted in associating of sexual pleasure with fear of punishment. It was a face to face analysis and Freud was able to observe any anxieties, there was dialogue where he could immediately probe more deeply at the appropriate times. However, it can be intimidating and difficult discussing embarrassing or frightening issues, and may lead to fabrications or omissions. Generally, Psychodynamic approach is unscientific. Psychodynamic concepts are highly subjective and cannot be verified.

It is impossible to see inside the mind so the theories cannot be proved wrong. These case studies are based on studying one person in detail and even when analysis is done on more than one, his patients have very narrow age and society range, it is difficult to make generalisations about a wider population. It is also too deterministic and doesnt give enough credence to free will. Humanism This approach studies the whole person, not only through the eyes of the observer but also through the person doing the behaviour. It believes that behaviour is connected to inner feeling and self.

It is the “third force” of psychology developed by Maslow (19430 and Rogers (1946 ) (Mcleod, S. A. (2007). Humanism focuses more on the personality and human potential and depicts an optimistic view of life; only positives (eg happiness, love) hould be considered. It assumes that all humans are born with healthy functional minds (opposite to Freud’s dysfunctional beliefs) and questions what people think is important, or what motivates them. It emphasises that we have freewill to choose our destiny and that we are all individuals. The world is perceived in a unique phenomenological way.

Our growth, achievement of potential, and resilience to survive drives us forward. Humanists view the objective, scientific method and study of animals as inappropriate since it regards humans as too complex to be studied this way, no two perceive the world the same way. It believes psychology should study the individual case rather than the average of a group. Maslow He created what is known as the ‘hierarchy of needs pyramid’ (Source nttp://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Maslow’s_nierarcny_ot_needs) Each stage snows the needs and wants a person should have.

Maslow argued you must go through each one in turn to reach the top and therefore self-actualise, and have a healthy personality. He categorised them into 2 areas: 1. Basic needs physiological safety love/belonging 2. Higher needs esteem self-actualisation. The basic needs contain what Maslow called “deficiency needs”. When these deficiency needs” are not met, the body will exhibit a physical indication eg anxiousness or hunger. Maslow’s theory suggests the basic needs must be satisfied before an individual can begin to reach their higher needs.

Higher needs (Metamotivation) describes the motivation that people have after they have gratified their basic needs so we strive to reach our full potential. He believed if we met all of these needs we would be perfectly content and happy. Carl Rogers Rogers agreed with most of what Maslow believed, but added that in order to grow and achieve our potential, our environment will influence us. To self-actualise, we eek for our environment to provide the right experiences, and the acceptance and understanding of others.

He developed the client-centered theory which places more emphasis on how individuals move toward positive growth when the proper conditions (experiences) are in place. Clients who are provided with the right conditions ‘e acceptance and understanding from others, realise their actualising tendencies and explore what difficulties they may have, giving them a clearer picture of themselves and their potential, thus moving them toward self-actualization. The clients were able to act in ways appropriate to their “true self” (congruence). This in turn leads to self-confidence, ability to make better choices and even more understanding of self.

One of the methods is Q-Sort assessment: (Source http:// allpsych. com/personalitysynopsis/humanistic_research. html) Using Q-Sort, a therapist can tell how a person is progressing throughout the treatment, it compares where a person is relative to where he wants to be. A healthy person is one who’s ideal of self and true self are similar There are applications of Q-Sort methods : Insurance companies, supermarkets often ask you to fill out a questionaire to rank a eries of statements, how much would you would like to buy X, what was your experience of Y eg your treatment by the customer service department.

A holiday company who want to find out the places you like to go and why. An incentive can be offered to get you to spend the time filling out the questionnaire. Humanist methods (qualitative research) can be used by political parties to find out what policies a voter wants. It is also used for motivational course’s in companies. However, these methods only reflect an individualistic, selfish outlook and do not take in to account the views of others or social motivations. Moreover, humanistic’ optimistic approach can not explain the horrors people intlict on each other.

It’s rejection ot scientific methodology brings significant criticism. It was developed specifically within western cultures and therefore the findings cannot be extrapolated to other cultures. Do basic needs have to be satisfied before higher needs? No, there many examples of people putting their higher needs first eg in concentration camps people still helped others despite their own need for food not being satisfied, homeless may prefer to spend benefits on alcohol or gambling. We operate on different levels at the same ime and not all that motivates us is conscious.

Therefore, in conclusion, no one perspective explains all the complexities of the human psyche. They contradict, over lap, and even corroborate one another. They criticise each others approaches eg Behaviourists on Humanist’s lack of scientific methods. In present day Psychology, a combination of all three is needed to achieve the most conclusive results.

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