Critically evaluate some of the central themes within psychology Behaviourism VS Cognitive
This assignment will critically analyse two of the core approaches in psychology- Behaviourism versus the Cognitive approach. Behaviourists believe that all behaviours are gained through conditioning; conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviourists say our responses to environmental stimuli shape our behaviour. If the environment surrounding us is altered- our thoughts, behaviour and feelings are also altered. Cognitive psychologists study the ways in which humans mentally process information. They study internal thought processes such as thinking, perception, language, memory and attention. The cognitive approach also looks at how we treat the information that we gain and what responses this leads us to have. Behaviourists say we are a product of our environment. They believe that we are born a blank slate and we can be manipulated whereas Cognitive psychologists believe we were born with cognitive functions like memory or perception. Behaviourists believe we all learn in the same way, therefore it is acceptable to associate results from experiments that are carried out on animals; with humans. This could also be seen as a downfall for the behaviourist approach as they do not anticipate any difference between animals and humans behaviour. Cognitive psychologists believe if they want to know how people think then they need to gain knowledge on a person’s mind and mental processes. They focus more on internal factors unlike behaviourists who focus of external factors. They study internal processes such as thought processes, attention, memory, language and perception. Behaviourists only study behaviour that can be observed. It assumes that we learn by associating certain events with certain consequences, and people tend to behave in the ways which lead to good consequences. Classical and Operant conditioning are two important concepts linked to behavioural psychology. Operant conditioning was introduced by a psychologist named Burrus Frederic Skinner. Skinner believed by looking at causes of an action and it’s consequences- we could learn to understand behaviour. The term operant conditioning means a change in behaviour due to reinforcement which is given after the response. The animal or human learns to act a certain way based on whether they have had a reward or punishment for acting that certain way. Classical conditioning was founded by a Russian physiologist, Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov was interested in the behaviour of both animals and humans, he also had an interest in reflexes (automatic behaviour that is caused by a stimulus from the environment) Cognitive psychology assumes that humans have the ability to process and organise information in our minds. They believe behaviour is explained by how the mind operates. On the other hand the cognitive approach does not always acknowledge biological psychology and environmental factors that also effect behaviour. Cognitive psychology is largely based on laboratory experiments, therefore Skinner criticised this as he believes response behaviour (using stimulus) can be more accurately scientifically measured. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss psychologist who studied the cognitive development in children. Before the work of Piaget it was believed that children were incapable of thinking like adults due to lack of intelligence due to their age. Piaget proved this was not true, and that it is because children think in different ways compared to adults. Piaget believed children went through stages of cognitive development, and as the children aged, there was a progressive reorganization of mental processes due to their maturation. Piaget’s ideas in developmental psychology are world-wide, however there has been a lot of criticism towards his work too. For example, psychologists Samuel and Bryant cristised Piaget’s conservation tests. They...
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