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

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'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.

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