Is Psychology More Than Just Theories, Experiments and Case Studies?

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This essay will explore whether psychology is more than just theories, experiments and case studies. I shall explain, in depth, the difference between the humanist and the behaviourist approach towards psychology. By using various studies I have researched into, I will compare and contrast between the different characteristics and methods used in the two approaches to obtain results. I will explore laboratory experiments as well as case studies. I will also discuss the importance of informed consent and the right to withdraw by participants.

The Humanist approach was founded in 1962 by Carl Rogers. Another main figure with the approach was Abraham Maslow who devised the hierarchy of needs. The Humanist basic principles believe the experience of the person is paramount and a Holistic approach is always considering the person as a whole. The belief as humans we all have a sense of personal urgency and we can make our own choices is also considered. Humanists strongly believe people can change and develop. By becoming more aware of your feelings, you can be motivated and influenced to change. Humanists don’t usually incorporate experiments within their studies and tend to use case studies and introspective data to conclude on peoples behaviours. Case studies allow an in depth analysis of a person’s behaviour which include their family, environment and past events. The potential is there to receive in depth knowledge and information. It is especially positive in unusual cases which in normal situations may be impractical or unethical to study in any other way. All the attributions above are only creditable if all information is accurate and interpreted in the correct way. It also needs to be considered the information provided is personalised and may not always be a good reputation of the general population.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (appendix 1) describes and understands behaviour as ‘a hierarchy of motives, with self-actualisation at the top of the hierarchy’ (Gross, 2009, P.140). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is linked to personality and motivation. The table consists of five levels with self-actualisation being at the highest peak. This is followed by esteem needs, belongingness and love needs, safety needs and biological and physiological needs. The belief is to reach self-actualisation you must be able to achieve your basic needs, the foundations. If unsuccessful, you cannot reach the top of the table therefore, self-actualisation will never be achievable. In everyday life, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs makes perfect sense. There are basic fundamental requirements in order for any human being to function but, these requirements are very individualised and dependant on various factors such as your environment and upbringing. But most importantly, it would seem that self actualisation is only achievable if the individual is aware of each personal goal and can recognise what is required to achieve it to begin with. Other similar theories such as Ruben and Mcneil’s study in 1983 which states ‘Motives are a special kind of cause which energize, direct and sustain a person’s behavior (including hunger, thirst, sex and curiosity). (Rubin and McNeil, 1983)’ have also supported Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.

Client centre therapy (CCT) is linked to humanistic approaches to psychology. It is a method of psychotherapy with the belief every person has the ability and motivation to change. The therapist should have the following qualities; Genuineness, unconditional positive regard and accurate empathetic understanding. CCT is described as a non-directive approach to therapy meaning, the client brings to the session whatever they choose and the therapist will simply listen and try to understand from the clients’ point of view; not evaluate the client in any way. The pace and content of the therapy is controlled by the client. Cited from Mathew Ryan, a student therapist, The general belief of CCT is the client will,...
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