Psychological Perspectives of Smoking
Topics: Sigmund Freud, Psychology, Oral stage, Psychosexual development, Behaviorism, Classical conditioning / Pages: 5 (1118 words) / Published: Mar 14th, 2013

Psychological perspectives of smoking

This essay will consider how each of the 5 psychological perspectives explain smoking. I will cover the psychodynamic, the behaviouristic, the biological, the cognitive and the humanistic approach.

Psychodynamic approach

The psychodynamic approach views behaviour in terms of past childhood experiences, and the influence of unconscious processes. There are five psychosexual stages in Freud’s theory, the first being the oral stage during which the infant focuses on satisfying hunger orally. Sigmund Freud believed that during this stage of development the person can become fixated in the oral stage of development. An infant's pleasure and comfort centres on having things in the mouth during this psychodynamic stage. If the mother weaned too early, it may fail to be resolved later in life which can then lead to oral fixation. The action of putting something in their mouth (a cigarette) is what fulfils this oral fixation. Freud’s evidence for this was through his studies on ‘Little Hans’. (Billingham, 2008) Hans’ father would exchange letters between him and Freud about little Hans’ dreams and fears and was able to place him into one of the five psychosexual stages. This study was flawed in the way that all of the material Freud used for the study was second hand. One of the strengths of the approach is that it provides a valuable insight into how early experiences or relationships can affect our adult personality, having said this the approach is too focused on sex and is biased.

The behaviourist approach

The behaviourist approach explains human behaviour as being learned from peers and the environment. The approach suggests that smoking may be explained through learning through classical conditioning. Smoking may be acquired from their peers which results in acceptance and happiness, therefore smoking alone results in the conditioned response of pleasure. Young people may have observed others smoking and them being

References: Billingham, (2008) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. (5th ed.) London: Hodder Arnold Pavlov, (1902) The Work Of The Digestive Glands. London: Griffin. NHS. (2012) NHS smoking statistics. [Online] Available from: [accessed 29 November 2012] city college plymouth. (2012) moodle combined studies. [Online] Available from: [accessed 29 November 2012]

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