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Psychology and Biology Essay

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The essay will begin with an introduction to each approach, giving main assumptions and supporting evidence. Following this, the two theories will be compared and contrasted, looking at strengths and weaknesses. In conclusion there will be a short explanation of the main areas of similarity, and differences Psychology and its many definitions has changed radically and frequently over time, as an independent area of study. There are many different theoretical views, some conflicting, regarding the most appropriate methods for investigating human nature. The approaches chosen to discuss in this essay are biology psychology and comparative psychology.

Biopsychology is the scientific study of the biology of behaviour.Some refer to this field as psychobiology,behavioural biology,behavioural neuroscience.It is an integrative discipline. The study of the biology of behaviour has a long history,but biopsychology did not coalesce into a major neuroscientific discipline until this century.Biopsychologists draw together knowledge from the other neuroscientific disciplines and apply it to the study of behaviour. Biopsychologists are neuroscientists who brings to their research a knowledge of behaviour and the methods of behavioural research. They uses animals because their methods of study can not be used with humans.

Comparative psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the study of animal behaviour. Modern research on animal behaviour began with the work of Charles Darwin and Georges Romanes and has continued to grow into a multidisciplinary subject. Today, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, ecologists, geneticists and many others contribute to the study of animal behaviour.Comparative psychologists compare the behaviour of different species and focus on the genetics,evolution and adaptivness of behaviour.Historically,comparative psychologists have focused on the experimental investigation of animal behaviour in controlled laboratory environments.Modern comparative psychology also encompasses the study of animal behaviour in its natural environment.

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For Biopsychology,biological bases have been found for a range of psychological disorders. Schizophrenics, for example, have been found to have different brain structures to other people, with smaller brains and higher-than-normal levels of dopamine.Looking at the chemical make-up of the brain has lead to the successful production of a range of drug treatments in recent decades that have helped in the treatment of a variety of issues, including Prozac (for depression), schizophrenia.

However,The biological approach in psychology is highly reductionist in its approach to the complexity of human behavior and emotion. Reducing our feelings and reactions to robot-like behavior is not only unethical, it also ignores the factors in our every day environment – our childhood experiences and the influence and behavior of friends and media – that have been found to affect us.Many drug treatments have unwanted side-effects.

Claims, for example, that Prozac can cause violent behavior after taking it, are not uncommon, so the claim that the biological approach can produce effective treatment.Drugs only treat the biologically-visible effects, not the causes of problems. Childhood experiences that cause trauma and depression during adulthood may be better treated by confronting our past than by using anti-depressants.

Different with biopsychology,Comparative psychology often utilizes the comparative method to study animal behavior. The comparative method involves comparing the similarities and differences among species to gain and understanding of evolutionary relationships. The comparative method can also be used to compare modern species of animals to ancient species. The study of animal behavior can lead to a deeper and broader understanding of human psychology. Research on animal behavior has led to numerous discoveries about human behavior, such as Ivan Pavlov’s research on classical conditioning or Harry Harlow’s work with rhesus monkeys. Students of biological sciences and social sciences can benefit from studying comparative psychology.

The strengths of the comparative psychology is that it is easy to find out and analyse the statistics of human psychology and the results are always believable.In addition,it is also clear to show the relationships between different variable quantities.However,there is a weakness that it is hard to find out the conclusion of the cause and effect and the experiments are always inflexible.Also,most of the experiments require a lot of manpower and material resources. If the approaches are compared in terms of the nature – nurture debate, common ground is found, both believe an individual’s personality develops as they grow, therefore, they are on the nurture side of the argument as opposed to nature, which suggests people are born with genetic dispositions and only possess innate, inherited personality. (Carlson 1990)

In conclusion both have fundamental differences and share many attributes, comparative psychologists believe the unconscious has no bearing on behaviour, opposed to biology psychologists’ belief that unconscious drives are the reason we behave as we do, one is scientific, the other isn’t and they both use very different therapies to treat patients. The similarities between the approaches begin as far back as evolution and Darwin’s theory, they share determinism and both fall into the nurture side of the great debate. However, it is fair to say, that even with their many differences and similarities, these approaches have made the biggest contribution to this ‘science of the mind’ and made history with different therapeutic techniques.

Reference lists

Simmon Green(1994) Principles of Biopsychology. Lawrence erlbaum associates ltd. John P.J Pinel(1999) Biopsychology . A Pearson Education Company.

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