Principle psychological perspectives
Psychology is the study of the brain, stemming from the greek word ‘psyche’ meaning the mind, and is made up of man different theories and perspectives. Each of these look at the human mind and find different explanations for how it works and how people behave. Some of the key psychological perspectives are; Behaviourist
The behaviourist theory of psychology was founded by J.B Watson in 1959, and is based around the idea that individuals act in a certain manner because they’ve learnt to behave that way due to a factor in their environment that stimulates a positive or a negative response from them. The stimulus response theory is that a person behaves a certain way due to conditioning, and that different types of behaviour are learned due to associating certain types of behaviour and stimuli with various responses. It’s believed that all behaviours – such as aggression, or shyness – are a result of conditioning, there are two types; operant and classical, but each demonstrates behaviour as a result of learned behaviour. Classical conditioning involves associating 2 events and behaving according to this, whereas operant conditioning is when a person’s aware that a certain type of behaviour results in a certain consequence – this can be positive or negative – and therefore learns to behave a certain way.
The theory of classical condition was first introduced by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), during an experiment that investigated the digestive systems of dogs – as part of this, he had dogs hooked up to harnesses and machines that measured how much they salivated. One day, Pavlov noticed that the dogs started salivating before they’d even tasted the food, but rather when the assistant entered the room with the food. From this, he deduced that the dogs must have learnt to associate the assistant with the taste of food, therefore provoking them to salivate.
As the dogs instinctively salivated in response to food and this was not a learned behaviour, this is an unconditioned response as unconditioned means not learnt. Similarly, an object that leads to an automatic un-learned response – in this case it would be the food – is called unconditioned stimulus.
To investigate the theory further, Pavlov then altered the experiment slightly. When he introduced the dogs to the food, he rang a bell. Eventually, the dogs began to associate the sound of the bell with the arrival of food, just as they’d associated the arrival of the assistant with the presentation of food. Therefore, after being conditioned, the dogs began to salivate when they heard the sound of the bell even if there was no food arriving.
In this scenario, the bell is a conditioned stimulus and the salivating of the dogs is a condition response. A conditioned stimulus is one that is paired with an unconditioned stimulus in order to gain a conditioned response. For instance, pairing the bell with the arrival of food – instinctively the dog salivated at the arrival of food but eventually became conditioned to associate the bell with the arrival of food and therefore salivate when the bell was rung.
Operant conditioning is associated with theories proposed by Skinner, an American psychologist who often worked with rats in an attempt to discover new aspects and theories regarding learning behaviour. During an experiment designed to investigate how behaviour is learnt, he used a device known as a ‘Skinner box’.
A rat was placed into the box, and in there would also be a lever which, when pressed, would release a pellet of food. Initially, the rat would accidentally knock the lever when running around the box and food would be released, after this has occurred a few times, the rat would begin to associate pressing the lever with the release of food. The release of food is a type of...
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