Psychology Theories and Self-Reflection

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Psychology Theories and Self-Reflection

PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES AND SELF-REFLECTION Psychology Theories and Self-Reflection Introduction “Scientific psychology has four basic goals: to describe, explain, predict, and change behaviour and mental processes through the use of scientific methods” (Carpenter & Huffman, 2008, p. 5). The goal of this paper is not to debate the psychological perspectives, but to give a general focus on three of the more dominant psychological theories, by describing and explaining how the theories relate to personal life experiences, which, in turn, will enable the reader to understand the theories in a more practical way. Some questions that may come to mind when thinking of psychology are; “why do we do what we do?”, “why is it that early in life we seem to have no fear yet, as we age, fear and inhibitions develop that prevent us from doing things we have successfully done in the past?”, “is there a way to successfully make change in our lives and to rid ourselves of those fears and inhibitions?” This paper will attempt to answer some of these long standing questions by delving into the perspectives of behaviourist, cognitive and humanist theories of psychology. Behaviourist Perspective “Behaviourism is primarily associated with Pavlov (classical conditioning) in Russia and with Thorndike, Watson and particularly Skinner in the United States (operant conditioning)” (Atherton, 2010). In behaviourism, the emphasis is on how previous learning shapes current behaviour, this is due in part by the belief of behaviourists that mental processes are too difficult to measure and observe. “One of the most powerful behavioural influences on our behaviour comes from watching other people. Monkey see – monkey do! Psychologists call this process observational learning” (Cash, 2002, p. 13).


PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES AND SELF-REFLECTION A significant contributor and one of the most well-known behaviourists is B.F. Skinner, in short, his theory of conditioned response is based on the idea that learning is a result of response to occurrences (stimuli) in the environment that happen over a period of time, and that behaviour will change in response to the consequence. “Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's Stimulus-Response theory. A reinforcer is anything that strengthens the desired response. It could be verbal praise, a good grade or a feeling of increased accomplishment or satisfaction” (Culatta, Educational Psychology, 2011). Stimulus-Response theory (operant conditioning) is widely utilized in such areas as behaviour modification and programmed instruction. The principle behind this is that positive reinforcement will encourage the continuation of the desired behaviour. Lakes, rivers, dams and the ocean were my second home, I felt free and happy! We spent as much time we possibly could at Lake Winnipeg when I was young; my mother always said she believed I was part fish; there was no getting me out of the water when I was near it, I loved it! The more time I spent swimming (stimuli) the more she encouraged me (reinforcer). I have no fear! (response). We moved to Newfoundland when I was four years old and lived on the ocean, it was beautiful, our days were spent on the shore, catching fish by hand, digging for mussels, and watching the eels swim by our legs (stimuli). As I grew older my time was spent with my friends at the swimming hole and the dam, I was now even more like one of the fish, swimming like a mermaid and staying in and under the water as long as I could, everyone thought it was great (reinforcer), I could stay under the water longer than anyone else! I was conditioned to love the water! I grew up on the lakes and the ocean, it was where I belonged! (response)


PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES AND SELF-REFLECTION Cognitive Perspective “If you believe the saying 'Perception is everything,' then you may well be a cognitivist”...
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