Discuss to an individual or an animal learning

Discuss each of the main perspectives within psychology (Behaviourism, Psychodynamics and Humanism). Support these by including at least two key research studies within your discussion of each perspective. Introduction Psychology is defined as the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. It studies people’s thoughts and emotions and why people act in certain ways and do certain things. It is supported by scientific research carried out in experiments; the results are the recorded, similar to a scientific experiment.

There are many different perspectives within psychology however this essay will be looking at the three main perspectives; behaviourism, psychodynamics and humanism. It will then outline different research studies from each perspective. Behaviourism Watson defined behaviourism as “a natural science that takes the whole field of human adjustments as its own. It is the business of behaviouristic psychology to predict and control human activity” (Watson J, 2009). There are three different aspects to the perspective of behaviourism, classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning theory.

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Classical conditioning refers to an individual or animal learning through association. Research was carried out in 1909 by Ivan Pavlov. When he experimented on his dogs, they were offered food and saliva production increased. He also noticed something particularly interesting, salivation increased as the researcher opened the door to bring them the food. The dogs had now learnt the link between the door and their reflex response of salivation . Pavlov then added a bell into the equation, every time he fed the dogs he rung the bell, eventually the dogs would salivate to just the sound of the bell ringing.

Pavlov had demonstrated classical conditioning through association (Eysenck, 2005). Operant conditioning refers to an individual or an animal learning through rewards and punishment. Research was carried out in 1983 by Skinner who carried out an experiment on rats. A rat was placed in a cage with a lever sticking out on one side. If the lever was pressed a pellet of food would be delivered. At first the rat accidentally pressed the lever but over time they began to associate the link between pressing the lever and receiving food.

Skinner stated that the rats operated on the environment, when there was reward this reinforced the likelihood of the behaviour occurring again (Eysenck, 2005). Social learning theory refers to an individual or animal learning through observation, imitation and consequences. If we witness someone being rewarded for their actions we are more likely to imitate them, this is called vicarious reinforcement. A study was carried out by Bandura (1965) which looked at aggression within children. Bandura (1965) carried out a study on aggressive behaviour towards an inflatable bobo doll.

One group of children saw a film of an adult model kicking and punching the bobo doll. A second group saw the same aggressive behaviour, but this time the model was rewarded by another adult for his aggressive behaviour by being given sweets and a drink. A third group saw the same aggressive behaviour but this time the model was punished by another adult who warned him not to be aggressive in the future. Those children who had seen the model neither rewarded nor punished behaved much more aggressively towards the bobo doll than those who had seen the model punished.

The children in all these groups showed comparable levels of memory for the aggressive learning. However those who had seen the model punished were least likely to apply this learning to their own behaviour ((Eysenck, 2005). Humanism The humanistic theory which was originally founded by Maslow, states that every individual is unique. Every person has an innate potential to reach the final stage throughout our natural development, this process of fulfilling our potential is called ‘self actualization’. ? Appendix 1

As identified in Appendix 1 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of five stages. The first being physiological i. e physiological and biological satisfaction through hunger and thirst. The second which can only be reached after the first stage is fulfilled refers to the physical objects that satisfy a person’s needs for safety. The third stage refers to finding satisfaction through belonging to a group or society and valuing the welfare of the group. The fourth stage refers to ego needs including status and accomplishments.

The final stage, self actualization, refers to self fulfilment through enriching experiences and self satisfaction. Ideally an individual progresses through the hierarchy until his or her dominant motivation is a focus on ‘ultimate’ goals, such as justice and beauty (Solomon et al, 2006). Psychodynamics The psychodynamic perspective was founded by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) which focuses on trying to ‘get inside the head’ of individuals in order to make sense of their relationships, experiences and how they see the world (McLeod S, 2007).

Sigmund Freud made a large impact on the assumptions of human behaviour. The Freudian psychodynamic perspective developed the idea that much of human behaviour stems from a conflict between a persons’ desire to gratify his or hers physical needs and the necessity to function as a responsible member of society (Solomon et al, 2006). This perspective consisted of three systems in the mind; the id, the superego and the ego. The id is entirely orientated towards immediate gratification and directs a persons’ psychic energy towards pleasurable acts without regard for consequences.

The superego is the counterweight to the id and is essentially the person’s conscience. It internalizes society’s rules and works to prevent the id from seeking selfish gratification. Finally the ego is the system that mediates between the two. It finds ways to gratify the id that will be acceptable to the outside world. These conflicts occur on an unconscious level, so the person is not necessarily aware of the underlying reasons for his or her behaviour (Solomon et al, 2006). Research was carried out by Freud in 1909, he did a case study on a five year old boy who had a phobia of horses.

The boy, little Hans was too afraid to go out in the street to play in case he came across a horse. Little Hans was afraid that the horse would come into the house and bite him, he thought that would be his punishment for wishing that the horse would die. Freud analysed the boy, and told his father, that the fear of horses was an ego defence mechanism. The boy had displaced a fear that he actually felt for his father. Freud informed his father that little Hans had an unconscious wish that he would go away (or die) because he regarded him as a threat for his mother’s love and attention.

Freud suggests that Hans feelings towards his mother had “the foreshadowing’s of his budding sexual wishes”. The above identified the fact that the boy was experiencing the Oedipus complex and had displaced these feelings of animosity towards his father on to a horse. Freud suggested that his father should reassure him. Conclusion The three main perspectives in psychology are behaviourism, psychodynamics and humanism. As identified above the behaviouristic perspective focuses on the belief that you are able to predict and control human activity.

Psychodynamics focuses on trying to ‘get inside the head’ of individuals in order to analyse how they see the world. The third and final perspective is humanism, which focuses upon the theory that states that every individual is unique. References and bibliography Eysenck M, 2005, Psychology for AS Level, 3rd Edition, Psychology Press. Solomon M, Bamossy G, Askegaard S and Hogg K. M, 2006, Consumer Behaviour A European Perspective, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall. Gross R, 2005, Psychology: The science of mind and behaviour, 5th Edition, Hodder Arnold: London


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