• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

'Compare and contrast the contribution that behaviourist and psychodynamic theories have made to our understanding of the psychology of human behaviour'.

Extracts from this document...


'Compare and contrast the contribution that behaviourist and psychodynamic theories have made to our understanding of the psychology of human behaviour'. This essay is going to discuss the behaviourist and psychodynamic theories that exist and the arguments for and against them. The behaviourist theory was first introduced by Watson (1913) in what was later to be known as the 'Methodological' form and then redefined by Skinner in the 'Radical' form. The psychodynamic theory was originally introduced by Freud (1900). The modern day psychodynamic approach is largely based on Freud's theories but do include the theories of people such as Jung, Adler and Erikson whose theories are based on Freud's but are not identical. The way I have decided to structure this essay is to describe each theory separately, starting off with a brief history followed by an account of their theories and how they have contributed to modern day psychology. I shall then make my comparisons between the two theories and finally conclude by mentioning some of the criticism aimed at these theories. Behaviourism was born when the introspective theory (observing and analysing the structure of conscious mental processes) validity and usefulness was being seriously questioned. The main person doing this questioning was an American psychologist, John B. Watson. Watson (1913) proposed that psychologists should only study behaviour because it is the only thing that is measurable and observable by more than one person. ...read more.


Language, moral and gender development have all been explained in terms of conditioning, and some influential theories of the formation and maintenance of relationships focus on the concept of reinforcement. The behaviourist approach also offers one of the major models of abnormal behaviour. Their has also been major practical contributions to psychology by the behaviourism. Methodological behaviourism for example with its emphasis on experimentation, operational definitions, the measurement of observable events has been a major influence on the practice of scientific psychology in general. The term 'psychodynamic' denotes the active forces within the personality that motivate behaviour and the inner causes of behaviour. Freud's was the original psychodynamic theory; the approach includes all those theories based on his ideas, such as those of Jung, Adler and Erikson. Freud's psychoanalytic theory is psychodynamic, but the psychodynamic theories of Jung and so on, are not psychoanalytic. Freud's theory is split into two parts, the theory of the mind and the instincts. The theory of the mind consists of the conscious and the unconscious. The instincts are the life instinct and the death instinct. In the unconscious is the ID where the instincts reside and it is concerned with self-gratification i.e. operating on the pleasure principle. In the conscious part of the mind are the superego and the ego. The superego develops via the Oedipus complex and is our social conscience that threatens punishment, it is formed by parental and other significant influences such as culture or family. The ego is concerned with social rules i.e. ...read more.


Even the fiercest critics of Freud concede to his influence. In fact many people not associated with psychology know one or many of his theories. In conclusion both theories can be criticised as well as applauded. Some of behaviourism's plus points are that it is scientific in approach therefore making it seem less based on ideas that may never be proved but more on the practical side which can easily be repeated on numerous occasions. Skinner claimed that human behaviour can be predicted and controlled in the same way as the behaviour of non-humans. However possessing language allows us to communicate with each other and to think about things that have never been observed, including rules, laws and principles (Garrett, 1996 in Gross, R & McIlveen, R 1998). One of Freud's most common criticism's is that his theories are unscientific and therefore are unfalsifiable (incapable of being disproved). Freud offers a way of understanding that is different from theories that are easily testable and which may actually be more appropriate for capturing the nature of human experience and action. Freud can be best summed up by Fancher (1996), ' Although always controversial, Freud struck a responsive chord with his basic image of human beings as creatures in conflict, beset by irreconcilable and often unconscious demands from within as well as without. His ideas about repression, the importance of early experience and sexuality, and the inaccessibility of much of human nature to ordinary conscious introspection have become part of the standard Western intellectual currency'. Andrew Ogden Psychology Page 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Developmental Psychology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Developmental Psychology essays

  1. counselling stages of attachement

    * Shared care leads to problems with social and emotional development. Strengths - * It was a longitudinal study, conducted on the same children over a long period of time. This suggests that the other variables, besides type of care, such as genetic make up and IQ were kept constant, therefore the effect these had on the results were minimised.

  2. Compare And Contrast The Main Theoretical Concepts Relating To The Behaviourist And Cognitive Approach ...

    Behaviourists make the assumption that nearly all behaviours are caused by learned relationships between a Stimulus that excites the senses and a Response, which is the reaction to the Stimulus, for example a child might see a Spider (Stimulus) and be frightened (Response to seeing the Stimulus).

  1. The Behaviourist Approach To the Understanding of Human Behaviour

    In addition to that Pavlov found out that the intensity of the stimuli was also very important as a dog salivates more if trained on larger pieces of food and in response to a louder bell. This learning process is known as classical conditioning but it is also sometimes referred to as Pavlovian (after Pavlov)

  2. Describe and evaluate one of the major approaches to psychology in terms of its ...

    Behaviourism in its pure form looks at classical (Pavlov) and operant (Skinner and Watson) conditioning. The latter developed further by Thorndike his view was that operant conditioning had an important feature which he believed to be reinforcement (Davenport 1995: 12).

  1. Review of Behaviourism

    It says that the very notion of mental state or condition is the notion of a behavioural disposition. For example, we are not saying about a person that he or she is in a particular internal state or condition.

  2. Evaluate The Assumptions And Contributions Of The Behaviourist, Psychodynamic and Humanistic Approaches

    He found that he was able to train rats to press a lever or pigeons to peck a certain spot if he rewarded them for doing so with food. The stimulus strengthened the response, making it more likely to happen again.

  1. Is Popular culture an Influence on Violent Behaviour?

    Bandura's research underlines a young child's inability to both, choose what they will watch and to discern between fantasy and reality in their concurrent social background. His research was expanded on in a similar study conducted by Liebert and Baron in 1972.

  2. Free essay

    Compare and contrast theories of crime

    decision not to take the chocolate as it has learned the consequences of the I.D working on its own are not acceptable practise and therefore the ego develops and starts to control the I.D. Super-ego The Super-ego is developed later and provides a conscience; it is both the keeper and the go between of right and wrong.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work