Psychology - Behaviour Perspectives

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Behaviour is a complex idea to explain. Behaviour can be seen as an observable action that can be verified as the truth or otherwise. However, behaviour can be defined as the consequences to our thought processes, our wants, and our needs and experiences within life. (Parrish 2010) Many perspectives try to explain all behaviour. Nevertheless, no one perspective can explain all behaviour accurately. Four influential perspectives around human behaviour in psychology are the Behaviourist, Cognitive, Psychodynamic and Humanistic perspectives. Behaviourism is a perspective that suggests the environment we are in controls our behaviour. The widely used method of study was by mainly animal and individual child experimentation. Watson was a Radical Behaviourist and quoted “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in, and I'll guarantee to take anyone at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors" (1930 cited in Watson and Kimble 2009:82). Behaviourism explains learning adequately. Radical behaviourists believe everyone learns through conditioning techniques. Classical conditioning is the producing of reactions to unnatural stimuli through combining the unnatural stimuli with a naturally responded to stimuli. Watson and Rayner (1920) believed fear or phobia can be a conditioned response. They set out to exhibit a conditioned fear response of white rats in a boy named Albert, When Albert initiated contact with the rat a steel bar was hit to produce a loud sound (the unnatural stimulus). The child responded by crying as an immediate response. After conditioning, he was afraid of rats and objects that appeared similar to rats, such as fluffy objects. (Cited in Rolls, 2006:13) This support for conditioning however has met criticism. Harris (1979) believed that the research conducted and produced by Watson and Rayner was falsified and doctored, at least in parts. (Cited in Rolls, 2006:13) Hilgard and Maquis (1940) criticized the study of little Albert suggesting that conditioning cannot be as simple as Watson and Rayner portrayed. (Cited in Rolls, 2006:13) The behaviourist perspective appropriately explains, at least in part why we change our behaviour, particularly the neo-behaviourism branch of the perspective. Bronfenbrenner (1979) produced a theory that suggested that school and peers, community and culture as well as family play big roles in influencing how an individual thinks, and therefore, how the person's displays' behaviour. (Cited in Espeiage and Swearer 2008) Kernz and Prinz (2002) did studies and found that interventions to change behaviour are less effective when performed alone, than when other things are incorporated such as social influences, and age, rather than just the acknowledgement of the behaviour displayed. (Cited in Espeiage and Swearer 2008) Behaviourism has very scientific experiments providing support for the perspective, and the perspective appreciates that environment is important to learning. However, the perspective cannot be used on its own to explain human behaviour because it neglects the fact that animals are born with an innate learning response. This was shown by Lorenz who found that ducklings have innate responses and follow who they first see, as if they were their parents. (Spectrum Science 2008) This perspective can also not be used to completely explain human behaviour because it does not take into account that humans are more complex and have more capabilities than other animals. Examples of this include memory, emotions and choices. The cognitivism perspective includes cognitive processing unlike the behaviourism perspective which cognitivism challenges. Cognitivism focuses mainly upon the processing of information. It also focuses upon...
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