Topics: Psychology, Reinforcement, Behaviorism Pages: 8 (2612 words) Published: February 2, 2013
Approaches to Psychology in the workplace

According to Miller(1996),psychology is “the science of mental life”, which concerned with behaviours, thoughts as well as emotions. In the field of psychology, various approaches are introduced by different theorists. The main purpose of this essay is to look at psychology from the angle of its application in two workplaces: education, business. In the first section of this essay, the identification of the two employment organisations will be made. In the following part, I will describe in details of the application of four psychology approaches(behaviourism,humanism,cognitive,psychoanalytic) within the two areas and compare them.Thirdly,Finally, a simple conclusion about the evaluation and the expectation will be made.

Basically, the psychology in education field is often concerned with understanding and improving how students acquire a variety of capabilities though formal instruction in classroom settings. As for business area, the psychology could be related to study consumer behaviours or staff management.

I will begin with behaviourism, since it is different from most other approaches that it regard human beings as controlled by their environment and specifically that man are the product of what they have experienced from the environment(McLeod,2007). By definition, behaviourism is “a theory of animal and human learning that only focuses on objectively observable behaviours and discounts mental activities” (Phillips & Soltis, 1998:381). McLeod (2007) observes that the behaviourist approach proposes two main processes whereby people learn from their environment: namely classical conditioning and operant conditioning. And the theorist will be illustrated is B.F. Skinner who developed the ideas of "operant conditioning" which based upon the work of E. L. Thorndike and Ivan Pavlov and more specifically from the theories of classical conditioning and law of effect respectively. Skinner's theory can further be broken down into four main components: reinforcement, shaping, schedules of reinforcement, and extinction and punishment (B. Newman & P. Newman, 2007). The theory of operant conditioning can be applied in different areas effectively. The most widely used is positive and negative reinforcements. Positive reinforcement is a response strengthened by the addition of something (positive reinforcer) to the situation. A child behaving to earn parental approval is an example of the effects of positive reinforcement. The parental approval is the positive reinforcer. Behaviors can also be strengthened by negative consequences .Negative reinforcement occurs when a response is strengthened by the removal of something (negative reinforcer) from the situation (Nye,1992).

Through the research, I have come to not only understand behaviourism but also associate it with real life. Take myself as an example, I obey the low, otherwise a horrible outcome will be await. I follow the principles of academic writing, or I will be judged as plagiarism, just to name a few.

I fundamentally appreciate the basic principles of behaviorism in workplace, since it enables to motivate people, no matter in study or work. For instance, in education field, it is observed that teachers often use the theories behind behaviorism to drive behavior plans for emotionally disturbed students. These step-by-step plans include rewards (or punishments), which condition students to achieve specific patterns of behavior. Normally, when the student performs a desired behavior, he or she is rewarded with treats or extra points(Ozman & Craver 213).It is similar in the business world, Since most of the behavior taking place in a business is learned rather than reflexive, operant conditioning can be took advantage of. For example, employees learn various kinds of behavior before and after joining a company, and they encounter a host of stimuli in a company setting that can cause them to behave in certain ways...
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