Psychology is a huge science area with many variations on approach. Over many years Psychologists such as Freud, Skinner, Rogers and Watson, just to name a few, have contributed, providing us with invaluable tools to evaluate and treat mental illness, understand and treat phobias and indeed provide us with a window into the unconscious mind.
In particular, two areas of study have intrigued me, so I believe it would be useful to compare and contrast these two very different approaches. Not only will I compare the methods of research used but also will note any similarities or differences they may have and indeed the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. My chosen approaches to evaluate are Behaviourist V Psychoanalytic.
In 1913 John Watson published ' Psychology as the behaviourist view it', in it he outlined his new ideas. These ideas were considered 'new' because Watson disagreed with Freud's view of human behaviour; he dismissed it as ' philosophical to the point of mysticism' (Watson 1913, citied by Christopher D. Green, York University). Watson also dismissed heredity as an important factor in human behaviour shaping. Watson stated that 'The traditional methods of animal psychology are indeed the true method of scientific psychology'. (Watson 1913, citied by Christopher D. Green, York University). In this article Watson said
' The time seems to have come when psychology must discard all reference to consciousness; when it need no longer delude itself into thinking that it is making mental states the object of observation ' ('Psychology as the behaviourist views it' John Watson, Psychological review, 1913}. By saying this Watson meant that Freud and other Psychoanalysts could not prove their theories and therefore were not scientific. Also they studied abnormal patients (mental patients) so therefore they could not have a true picture. This publication did in fact establish 'a new school of psychology, the School of Behaviourism'. The essential theories, which stand Watson out from the rest, are that he believed psychologists should look to the relationship between the environment and the behaviour, rather than the presumed contents of the consciousness. The principles that govern behaviour in animals and in humans are virtually identical.
Watson's aim was to predict and control behaviour. He was able to provide evidence to his theories unlike other unreliable and unverifiable conscious experience studies.
A behaviourist believes that the environment motivates behaviour and that a stimulus will create a response, therefore, 'humans are merely passive respondents.' This approach rejects the unconscious mind and believes that only behaviour that can be observed should be studied. There are three main areas of study Classical conditioning (Pavlov), Operant conditioning (Skinner) and Observational learning (Bandura). Classical conditioning uses a stimulus response, Pavlov when experimenting with the dog and salivation, conditioned the dog to know when a treat was inevitable by using a bell as the stimulus. He proved that the dog would salivate at the mere thought of food and therefore his learning was by association. In the Skinner experiment he used positive and negative reinforcement as forms of rewards or punishments, this was called Operant conditioning. Finally when using Observational learning (Bandura 1960) its proven to be far more scientific using laboratory for studies and experiments. This seems to be a far more objective approach.
The behaviourist approach has a more scientific and objective view and provides a counter argument to the nature theory. By using a few basic principles, behaviourism can explain many characteristics in both human and animal behaviours and has many practical applications. However, on a more negative note it can be said that behaviourism rejects the conscious mental experiences and assumes that individuals are not responsible for their own actions. In addition it...
Bibliography: Watson, J.B, (1913) Psychology as the behaviour views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-177
Thomas, R.K. (1997) American journal of psychology, 110, 115-125
Watson J.B (1914). Behaviour: An introduction to Comparative Psychology. New York: Holt.
Tony Malim & Ann Birch 'Introduction to Psychology ' (1998)
Graham Hill 'Psychology through Diagrams ' (1998)
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