Compare and contrast the Psycoanalitic Theory with the Behaviorist Theory

Topics: Psychology, Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis Pages: 6 (1705 words) Published: January 15, 2003
Compare and contrast two psychological approaches

By Rory Simmons

My intention in this essay, is to compare and contrast the following psychological approaches Behaviourism and Psychoanalysis, in doing this I will unpack the key points of these two approaches, highlighting the differences and explaining them.

The first approach I will look at is Psychoanalysis; the most famous psychologist linked to this is Sigmund Freud an Austrian psychologist who first proposed his Psychodynamic approach. These perspectives states, that there are three main sections to the human psyche. The first is the "ID" this is the natural drive, which seeks gratification constantly, the second is the "EGO" this is our personal set of values developed as children, and finally the "SUPEREGO" a set of learned values, taken from society and our parents rules and values. Also he believed that as children we all go through five stages oral, anal, phallic, genital, and latency. If the child is either under or over gratified in any one of the stages then they will have problems in adulthood.

Another element of Freud's theories was his studies of dreams; Freud believed that dreams acted as a form of fantasy, a defence mechanism against the unacceptable urges of the id. Fantasy allows the individual to act out events in the imagination, which can satiate the urges of the id, which are repressed. Freud theorized that dreams were a subconscious manifestation of these repressed urges, and that they served mainly to satisfy sexual and aggressive tendencies

The other theory I will refer to is Behaviourism; this is an approach, which states that all psychology must be directly measurable and recordable, if it is to be regarded as scientific. In his 1924 book Behaviourism, Watson made the notorious claim that, given a dozen healthy infants; he could determine the adult personalities of each one, "regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and the race of his ancestors." While making such a claim seems ridiculous today, at the time Watson was reacting to emerging Freudian psychoanalytical theories of development, which many people found threatening. Watson's scheme rejected the entire hidden, unconscious, and suppressed longings that Freudians attributed to behaviours and posited that humans respond to punishments and rewards. Behaviour that creates positive responses is reinforced and continued, while behaviour that creates negative responses is eliminated.

After both of these psychologists came other expanding on their theories, psychologists like Pavlov and Skinner expanded Watson's theories and Psychologists like Jung and Adler expanded Freud's.

An important component of many psychological theories in the late nineteenth century, including psychoanalysis was "introspection", the study of the mind by analysis of one's own thought processes. It was in reaction to this trend that behaviourism arose, claiming that the causes of behaviour were not founded in the mind, but rather that they were the results of conditioning and responses to stimulus. Behavioural theorists emphasize that behaviour is a result of a process of learning from observing. What actions pay off and what works. This theory simplifies human behaviour by neglecting the many other influences on us, many of which are vital to the psychoanalytic theory. In direct conflict psychoanalysis uses introspection as the basis for all theory stating that behaviour is caused by childhood experiences, to quote Freud "the boy is father to the man".

Another difference is found when you look at research methods. Psychoanalysis is based around introspection and as such has very little research, due to the fact that the theory has very little testable data, it can neither truly be proved nor disproved. Behaviourism tested and researched ideas before they were published, all of the research was directly observable and and testable, this was due to the basic aim of...

Bibliography: Psychology for A level by Mike Cardwell, Liz Clark and Claire Meldrum (2000)
Gale Encyclopaedia of Childhood & Adolescence. Gale Research, 1998.
Rachlin, Howard. Introduction to Modern Behaviourism. 3rd ed. New York: Freeman, 1991
Lieberman, David A. Learning: Behavior and Cognition. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1990.
Gale Encyclopaedia of Psychology. Gale Research, 1998.
Blackman, Derek E. Operant Conditioning: An Experimental Analysis of Behaviour. London: Methuen, 1974.
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