Key Perspectives – Assignment 1
This assignment will explain how each psychological perspective explains smoking. There are six perspectives these are: Biological, Behaviourist, Social Learning, Cognitive, Psychodynamic and humanistic. Each approach gives different explanations for our behaviour through scientific evidence and theory. Smoking is a subject that all of these approaches individually explain. The Biological Approach has three main assumptions these are physiology, heritability and the comparative method. Psychologists believe that the function of the brain, nervous system and genetics influence behaviours. The brain has a large number of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Psychologists investigate these to see if diet, exercise and drugs influence behaviour. Also by using different animal models the approach can be explained using the comparative method as it is believed that some species have similar nervous systems therefore would react in similar ways to ourselves. It could be suggested that nicotine receptors found in the brain are one of the reasons why people smoke. Nicotine receptors are similar in shape to the neurotransmitters and when regular intake of nicotine enters the brain the number of receptors increases. They attach themselves to the nerve end and create the same effect as acetylcholine, stimulate and release the production of dopamine (a chemical that creates feelings of pleasure). It is believed that this is responsible for the addictive effects of smoking. Psychologists also believe that genetics can play a role in smoking as research has shown that if an individual has an SLC6A3-9 genotype its less likely that the individual will smoke than individuals without the gene. Lerman, C (1999) (www.sciencedaily.com) This approach can provide scientific evidence to support the theory of why people smoke. However it does not take into account, social experiences, free will or individuality. Some psychologists suggest that it is difficult to explain smoking behaviour without individual, social and free-will influences being taken into account. (www.psycholtron.org.uk) The behaviourist approach is believed to be a response to a stimulus. Psychologists believe that what we do is determined by the past and present environments we have/are in and that we are born with a small amount of stimulus-response units that do not need to be learnt (innate reflexes). Behaviourists say that we learn through interaction and learning processes which are common to both humans and animals. There are two processes used. These are classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is when people learn to associate two things (stimuli) together. Operant conditioning is when people learn new behaviours from the consequences of things they do. Positive consequences make the behaviour more likely to happen again. This is called reinforcement. Negative consequences make it less likely for the behaviour to be repeated. This is called punishment. Behaviourists suggest that if an individual smokes to be accepted they are more likely to repeat the behaviour this is called positive reinforcement but if an individual is not accepted into the group because they smoke they are less likely to smoke. Watson and Rayner (1920) CGP p113 researched how fear could be learnt. In this case study they used an 11 month old boy and introduced him to various different fluffy animals such as a white rabbit and white rat. Initially he was not afraid of the white fluffy animals. They then introduced the animals again and each time they did they made a loud noise using a metal bar behind him. This made him jump. Again they introduced the next animal striking the metal bar behind him. This was repeated many times over a period of a week. After this they introduced the child to the animals again one by one and this time the child initially tried to remove himself, when the animal was presented back to him he started to cry....
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