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Atkinson et al (2000) defines psychology as the scientific studyof behaviour and mental processes - This science has lead to anumber of different perspectives.

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Atkinson et al (2000) defines psychology as the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. This science has lead to a number of different perspectives. Malim et al (1997) state that there are five major perspectives within psychology, two of which, behaviourist and humanistic will be the focus of this essay following a brief outline of the other three perspectives, cognitive, psychodynamic and biological. The cognitive perspective places emphasis on thinking processes such as memory, language and problem solving (Medcof & Roth, 1979). An influential name within cognitive psychology is Piaget. Piaget saw the origin of thoughts and intellectual processes as resting within the concepts of, schema, assimilation, accommodation and adaptation (Rungapadiachy, 1999). The psychodynamic perspective is perhaps the most criticised and rejected perspective than any of the others although it has made a greater impact on the lay mind (Medcof & Roth, 1979). Sigmund Freud is synonymous with psychoanalysis. Freud believed that the key to understanding human behaviour rests within the unconscious. He saw the human mind as a battleground where instinct, reason and conscience are constantly at war (Rungapadiachy, 1999). Freud believed that many impulses which are repressed by society or parents as a child do not disappear but remain in the unconscious and possibly reappear as symptoms of mental illness or emotional problems (Atkinson et al, 2000). The biological perspective views man as a biological organism and focuses on two major concerns, the mind and body and the influence of heredity (Gross, 1996). ...read more.


The behaviourist approach arose as a backlash of other approaches at the time and rather than looking at the internal factors, behaviourism shifted its emphasis to the external factors. Psychologist John.B.Watson was becoming disenchanted with the attempts to study emotions, motives and thoughts as these were often vague and subjective and difficult to systematically study. Watson argued that psychology must be based on what is observable and measurable by more than one person (Gross, 1996). Watson believed that behaviour could be seen as a set of reactions in response to stimuli. In this way, if one knew the stimulus then they could obtain the desired behaviour. The two types of learning which behaviourists concern themselves with are classical conditioning and operant conditioning (Rungapadiachy, 1999). Classical conditioning refers to a behaviour that is reflexive or involuntary, for example, coughing, sneezing, shivering, sexual arousal (Rungapadiachy, 1999). Watson and Rayner (1920) conducted experiments into classical conditioning by establishing a rat phobia into an eleven-month-old child. The child was introduced to a white rat to play with and the child was pleased. However, a steel bar was introduced and whenever the rat was given to the child and the child reached out for the rat the steel bar would be struck to create a noise and frightening the child. Eventually on introduction of the rat without the steel bar the child would become frightened of the rat. Watson and Rayner had succeeded in creating a conditioned response (Wade & Tarvis, 1993). ...read more.


Negative reinforcement can be used to reduce undesirable behaviour by introducing an undesirable response such as a mild electrical shock (Roediger et al, 1991). The humanistic perspective looks at current experience, feelings and self concept, offering empathy and guidance and reflecting back to the person the emotional qualities of what they are saying and discussing without prejudice (unconditional positive regard). This can be done on a one to one basis or through group, family or community sessions with all parties generally having the same problem and thus having the same goal (Kent & Dalgleish, 1986). Burns (1991) states that the behavioural perspective can be open to misuse and have ethical implications, especially by hospital personnel imposing there own set of values on what constitutes behaviour by using a system of reward and punishment. Rungapadiachy (1999) states that the humanistic approach is possibly one of the few perspectives that focuses on the individuals conscious awareness and that each individual is unique. This essay has given a brief introduction to the five mentioned psychological perspectives . It has introduced the reader to the influential names within each of the perspectives. Piaget within the cognitive perspective, Freud within the psychodynamic perspective and Descartes and Darwin within the biological perspective, before entering into a more detailed view of the humanistic and behavioural perspectives. It has demonstrated the theory behind the humanistic perspective through the work of Rogers and Maslow, with Rogers theory of self and positive regard and Maslows self-actualisation through his heirarchy of needs. Also the behavioural perspective through the work of Pavlov, Watson and skinner within operant and classical conditioning before finally discussing ways in which the two detailed perspectives operate within a healthcare setting. 1 ...read more.

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