Freudian hypotheses Essay
Experimental research carried out on Freudian hypotheses has failed to support his theory and ideas. This is agreeable with the view taken by psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychologists, as holistic explanations tend to get more hypothetical and separated from physical reality. The aforementioned unpredictability of the theories means they lack the power of the physical sciences, which is another argument against holism.
The strength of ideas concocted by Freud, Tavris and Wade et al on the other hand was that they have a large amount of explanatory power and have something to say on a huge variety of topics. Again taking the holism view, the psychodynamic approach does not ignore the complexity of the individuals problem instead it is assumed that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Consequently I can conclude that although psychoanalysis/dynamic may fail on scientific and validity grounds, the ideas have provided research, discussion and reference for the last hundred years therefore the must be some reality in the theory.
Behaviourism is a movement in psychology that advocates the use of strict experimental measures to study observable behaviour (or responses) in relation to the environment (or stimuli). The American psychologist John B Watson first developed behaviourism in early in the early 20th century. The dominant view during this period was that psychology is the study of inner experiences or feelings by subjective, introspective methods. Watson did not deny the existence of inner experiences, but he insisted that these could not be studied because they were not observable.
Watson proposed to make study of psychology scientific by using only objective procedures such as laboratory experiments designed to establish statistically significant results. This led him to formulate a stimulus-response theory of psychology, this claims that all complex forms of behaviour-emotions, habits, and such like- are seen as composed of simple muscular and glandular elements that can be observed and measured. He claimed that emotional reactions are learned in much the same way as other skills. Watson’s stimulus-response resulted in a tremendous increase in research activity on learning in animals and in humans, from infancy to early adulthood.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949) investigated how animals learn. In one series of observations he placed a cat in a ‘puzzle box’ and measured the time it took to escape. Over a number of trials, the time taken to escape decreased. From his observations he developed the Law of (positive) Effect, this states that any behaviour leading to a positive outcome will tend to be repeated in similar circumstances.
Thorndike’s work was developed by the behaviourists including B.F. Skinner (1904-90). Skinner believed it was unnecessary to look for any underlying causes of behaviour. He explained all behaviour with reference to the reinforcement contingencies that could be used to change it. Reinforcement is a key concept in behaviourism; it increases the likelihood that an action will be repeated in the future.
Punishment on the other hand, reduces the likelihood that an action will be repeated. For example, shouting at the child who is behaving in an irritating way, might in fact lead to the behaviour appearing more frequently. The shouting, therefore, has seen as reinforcing (e.g. by providing attention) rather punishing. One of the main moral issues surrounding behaviourism relates to its ideas about control.
A primary belief in behavioural theory is the belief that human behaviour is the belief that human behaviour does not just happen, but rather it is caused by environmental events that we cannot control. In other words, behaviourism is strongly deterministic. This means it is unfalsifiable since it always assumes a cause exists, even if one has not been found yet. The behavioural model has been criticised by other approaches for ignoring innate learning due to evolution. Taking the reductionism view, this is where others feel perhaps there is oversimplification and ‘the whole maybe greater than the sum of its parts’.
The behaviourists’ value of explanation is very simple; a great variety of phenomena is explanation is very simple, a great variety of phenomena is explained using only a few (classical and operant) principles. The meaning of an action, such as a hand wave, is gained from its situation (greeting or drowning) not its underlying physiological description. Behaviourists carry out their investigation by studying large groups; this takes the nomothetic argument. The disadvantage of this argument is that we develop a superficial understanding of any one person. Basically, nomothetic generalisations may be too inaccurate to understand an individual fully.
On the other hand, behaviourism has produced many practical applications some of which have been very effective. This could be associated with reductionism view the theory has taken; breaking the whole down into smaller parts enables it to be easily tested. Although first presented as a disadvantage, explaining phenomena in terms of their physical basis can ideally gain the support and credibility of science. As mentioned before behaviourism is strongly deterministic, this means that the theories are easily explained, predicted and controlled behaviour above the levels achieved by unaided commonsense.
The nomothetic approach presents the ability to generalise laws from limited instances and is very useful in predicting and controlling behaviour. Consequently, I can conclude that although behaviourism may fail a complete understanding of any individual, the ideas have produced many practical applications, which has dominated experimental psychology. This approach emphasizes the importance of environment (as opposed to genetics0in shaping how people behave. Cognition is the act or process of knowing; it includes attention, perception, memory, reasoning, judgement, imaging, thinking, and speech. The entire field-cognitive psychology-has arisen since the 1950s. It studies cognition mainly from the viewpoint of information handling.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 September 2017
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