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Psychology: Approaches

Terms in this set (27)

From a behaviourist perspective, animals (including humans) are seen as passive responders to the environment, with little or no conscious insight into their behaviour. This brings in the issue of determinism. The behaviourist approach is environmentally deterministic. According to Skinner, our past history conditioning determines the outcome of our behaviour thus suggesting that humans have no free will. Other approaches in psychology (e.g. Social Learning Theory and the Cognitive Approach), have emphasised the importance of mental events during learning. This suggests people play a much more active role in their learning and therefore this theory may apply less to humans than to animal behaviour.

Behaviourism was able to bring the language and methods of science in Psychology by focusing on the measurement of observable behaviour within highly controlled lab settings. By emphasising the importance of scientific processes such as objectivity and replication, behaviourism was influential in the emergence of psychology as a science, thus giving it greater credibility and status.

The principles of conditioning have been applied to a broad range of real-world behaviours and problems. For example, operant conditioning is the basis of token economy that have been successfully used in institutions and psychiatric wards. It encourages good behaviour by rewarding people with tokens which they can collect and then use to buy rewards. Treatments such as these have the advantage of being able to help most people, especially those who lack insight therefore it is successful in real-life applications.