Differences between Cognitive and Behavioral Perspectives in Psychology

Topics: Psychology, Behaviorism, Mind Pages: 1 (304 words) Published: December 2, 2001
The behavioral perspective is the idea that if psychology was to be a science, then it must focus on events, which are directly observable on behavior, rather than on mental life. The behavioral perspective maintains the primary emphasis on observable behavior and its relation to environmental events. Behavioral perspective is through reinforcement, which is the idea that patterns of emitted behavior can be selected by their consequences. Cognitive perspective is centered on the description of the nature and development of the representation of knowledge. It comes from three points of view, which are the theory of information processing, the inability of behaviorism to provide a comprehensive account for all aspects of human behavior, and the invention of the computer.

Behavioral perspective is the theory that the majority of all behavior is learned from the environment after birth. Freewill is considered to be an illusion, because our environment determines behavior. Behaviorists believe that only behavior should be observed, not our minds, since we cannot see into other people's minds. There is no way to know if a person is honestly answering a question so it is irrelevant. Behaviorists use strict laboratory experiments, usually on animals, such as rats or pigeons. They test animals because the laws of learning are universal, there are only a quantitative difference between animals and humans, and animals are practically and ethically more convenient to test.

Cognitive psychologists think that mental processes should and can be investigated scientifically. Models of psychological functions can be proposed, and these models can be carried out to confirm, refute, or modify them by testing observable behavior and conscious report. Cognitive processes actively organize and manipulate information we receive. Most cognitive psychologists use a nomothetic approach to discover human cognitive processes. Some have also adopted idiographic techniques...
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