Psychological Perspectives

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Unit 8 Psychological Perspectives in Health and Social Care

Pass 1

Here I will describe the behaviourist perspective in health and social care.

Behaviourism assumes that all behaviour is learnt from the environment and symptoms are acquired through classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning involves learning by association and is usually the cause of most phobias. Operant conditioning involves learning by reinforcement and punishment, and can explain abnormal behaviour should as eating disorders.

John Watson, one of the founders of Behaviourism, based his theories on the principles of learning outlined by a man called Ivan Pavlov a Russian physiologist, who suggested the theory known as Classical conditioning. One of the most famous of experiments that illustrates classical conditioning is Pavlov's Dogs. In this experiment, Pavlov sat behind a one-way mirror and controlled the presentation of a bell. The bell was the conditioned stimulus. A conditioned stimulus was an originally neutral stimulus that could eventually produce a desired response when presented alone. Directly after the ringing of the bell, Pavlov gave the dog food. The food was the unconditioned stimulus. This means that the food caused an uncontrollable response whenever it was presented alone. That response would be the salivation of the dog. A tube that was in the dog's mouth then measured the saliva. When the unconditioned stimulus was paired with a conditioned stimulus, it eventually resulted in a conditioned response. Extinction results if there is a decrease in frequency or strength of a learned response due to the failure to continue to pair the US and the CS.

Operant conditioning was associated with an American psychologist called Frederic Skinner. Skinner was a strong critic of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical approach to psychology. Skinner believed that studying the unconscious mind was a waste of time to finding out why a person acted a certain way and that only what a person actually did mattered. Operant conditioning was based on the idea that a person will behave a certain way according to the consequences associated with that behaviour, such as reinforcements or punishments. The consequence will determine whether or not the behaviour is likely to occur again. In other words, if a person does something good and is rewarded, they are more likely to do more good things. Skinner did not believe in using punishment and found that it was unsuccessful at controlling behaviour. Usually, it only led to a temporary behaviour change and resulted in the person trying to avoid the punishment instead of avoiding the behaviour that caused the punishment in the first place. Skinner invented an operant conditioning chamber, better known as the "Skinner Box." It was a small, soundproof compartment that isolates an organism from all outside influences, allowing organisms to only respond to conditions within the box. A typical Skinner box contains a lever which dispenses food to the subject organism, such as rats and pigeons. The Skinner box was created to improve the unbiased scientific observation value of an organism's behaviours.

Behaviourism was developed by B F Skinner; his conclusions were that the learning process takes place through “conditioning”. Behaviourist approaches are different from most other perspectives because they view people as controlled by their environment and specifically that we are the result of what we have learned from our environment as opposed to the result of our parenting or genetic makeup.

There are various techniques used in education that are used to promote poor behaviour.

The use of contracts between a teacher and pupil can be used to correct behavioural issues. The positive behaviour should be identified and explained to the pupil, then documented so the pupil understands what is expected of him or her. This technique can be used with parents at home also to...
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