Psychology

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“Psychology has given the world little cause for amazement” Sinead Clarke
Word Count: 1,769

“Psychology has given the world little cause for amazement” In 1843, John Stuart Mill published “System of Logic Ratiocinative and Inductive, Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation” (A System of Logic) in which he declared “psychology should leave the realm of speculation and philosophy and become a science of observation and experiment.” Commencing in the 1800s, psychology began its gradual transition from philosophy to experimentation and the study of physiology. Previous to this, psychology had never been defined as a science in its own right like biology, physics and chemistry. Today, the scientific method is based on the hypothetico-deductive model (Popper, 1935) which suggests that theories and laws about the world should come first and these should be used to generate hypotheses which can be falsified or verified by both observations and experiment. However psychologists seek to determine causes for the way in which humans behave by using the scientific method; a process complicated by the subjective nature of the human race. (Shaughnessy, Zechmeister & Zechmeister, 2012). Psychology has gradually been acknowledged as a modern day science due to the many psychological experiments that have led to greater understanding of human behaviour in many different contexts, which will be outlined below. By exploring the various breakthroughs psychology has made in past decades, psychology can be shown to have hugely contributed to modern day life. Behaviourism was a psychological school of thought that was founded by John B. Watson after his publication of the paper “Psychologist as the Behaviourist Views It” (1913). Its hypothetical aim was that it would be capable of predicting and possible controlling behaviour. However many dismissed behaviourism due to the fact “its commitment to the thesis that behavior can be explained without reference to non-behavioral mental” (Graham, 2010, para. 7). However, Ian Pavlov (1901) developed the theory of classical conditioning, as he noted that dogs he was using for other researchers began to salivate whenever his assistants entered the room. He then deduced salivation was a learned response. In order to ascertain this theory he presented the dogs with food and as he did so played the sound of a ticking metronome in order to induce salivation. Eventually, the dogs would begin to salivate at the mere sound of the metronome. Pavlov’s experiment was a critical one in the history of psychology. He laid the basis for the field of behavioural psychology and the conditioning process is central in modern day psychological treatment as it is used in behavioural modification and mental health treatment. (Cherry, 2012). It has also been adapted for very practical uses, for example herders who wish to protect their livestock from coyotes. The mutton is injected with a drug that induces nausea which leads to coyotes to avoid the herds. (Cherry, 2012). Pavlov’s contribution to behavioural psychology proved invaluable for modern day understanding of human behaviour. Psychological experimentation has also permitted us to comprehend other areas of human behaviour. Most people believe that they would be willing to defend what is right against a large group of their peers (Cherry, 2012). However Solomon Asch (1951) proved that this did not appear to be the case and believed that most people would display a lack of independence when confronted with group pressure. In his experiment, the participant was told he was partaking in a “vision test” and was placed in a room of confederates. Different line lengths were presented and the participant and confederates were asked to choose the one which corresponded an individual line length shown. The confederates purposely selected the wrong answer. Initially the participant would defend his own answer but...
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