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Compare and contrast the main approaches - Biological and Behaviourist, biological and cognitive, Psychodynamic and Behaviourist.

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Introduction

Compare and Contrast the Psychodynamic and Cognitive approaches in terms of similarities and differences. [12 Marks] The cognitive and psychodynamic approaches have many similarities and differences; these include debates in nature and nurture, the usefulness of these approaches, deterministic and scientific/non scientific. The psychodynamic approach takes into account both nature and nurture, however the cognitive approach has failed to recognise the influence of nature and nurture. Freud claimed that adult personality is the product of innate drives (nature) and childhood experiences (nurture). These innate drives include the structure of the personality, Id, ego and superego as well as the psychosexual development every child passes through. If a child does not pass through these processes successfully it could lead to abnormalities in behaviour. The cognitive approach has carried out research into intelligence but has not looked at the influence of genes in its research or environmental factors (such as wealth) that could influence intelligence. Therefore this clearly indicates that both approaches are different in terms of nature and nurture. The cognitive approach is useful and has been applied successfully in therapy. As one of the core assumptions of the cognitive approach is that mental processes influence our behaviour, therefore if these process are irrational this can lead to psychological problems. Therapy, such as RET, aims to replace these irrational thoughts with more positive ones. Engels (1994) concluded that Rational Emotive Therapy is an effective treatment for a number of different disorders. In contrast, the psychodynamic approach is useful in many different ways; it highlights the importance of childhood experiences, arguing that it is a critical period of development. Who we become is greatly influenced by our childhood experiences. Ideas put forward by Freud have greatly influenced therapies used to treat mental disorders. For example, Freud was the first person to recognise that psychological factors could influence physical symptoms of paralysis, as shown in the Anna O case. ...read more.

Middle

The two main processes of learning behaviour are through classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning through association and operant conditioning is learning through positive and negative association/reinforcement. Behaviourist approach would believe that phobias are a learnt process via classical conditioning, as shown in the Little Albert case. Another difference is that the behaviourist approach is scientific in its nature, whereas the psychodynamic approach is non-scientific. The main principle of the behaviourist approach is that all behaviour should be measureable in a quantitative manner. Behaviour should be studied objectively and variables should be operationalised so they are simple and easy to measure. For example, Bandura's work was conducted under lab conditions, one of the most scientific methods; where by children were assigned to experimental conditions (aggressive group) or control condition (non aggressive group). By changing the variables, Bandura could conclude that aggression was due to the social learning theory. In contrast the psychodynamic approach is not scientific as its not testable, which makes it difficult to falsify. A good theory should be able to be tested to prove if it is right or wrong. It is difficult to test this theory scientifically. For example the use of dream analysis is a subjective method and there are no scientific measurements of interpretations. Also much of Freud's work was based on a very small sample and it is difficult to generalise these findings to other people in the population. One of the similarities between the psychodynamic and behaviourist approaches is that they are both useful in many ways. The psychodynamic approach highlights the importance of childhood experiences, arguing that it is a critical period in development. Who we become is greatly influenced by childhood experiences. Ideas put forward by Freud have greatly influenced therapies used to treat mental disorders. Freud was the first person to recognise that psychological factors could influence physical symptoms of paralysis, as shown in the Anna O case. ...read more.

Conclusion

This means that we are predetermined to develop a phobia if we have a negative association with it. Free will is not considered in this approach which tells us that people have no personal responsibility for their behaviour. Scientifically the approaches are both similar. In the cognitive approach psychologists believe that behaviour should be testable in a scientific manner. One of the assumptions is that all behaviour should be measurable in a quantitative manner and studied objectively. For example, a laboratory experiment produced by Loftus (1987) found that if victims are faced with a weapon, they tend to focus only on this weapon rather than the offender. This experiment was in a controlled environment, it allowed Loftus to determine cause and effect. The behaviourist approach also believes that behaviour should be measured in a quantitative manner an example being Bandura's work; it was performed under laboratory conditions, one of the most scientific methods. In these experiments children are assigned to experimental conditions or controlled conditions by changing the variables Bandura could conclude that aggression was due to the social learning theory. The only difference in these approaches is that the behavioural approach focuses on nurture whereas the cognitive approach focuses on neither. Behaviourists believe that we are born as a blank slate and society shapes our behaviour. The two main processes of learning behaviour are through classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning through association and operant conditioning is learning through positive and negative association/reinforcement. Behaviourist approach would believe that phobias are a learnt process via classical conditioning, as shown in the Little Albert case. On the other hand the cognitive approach has failed to recognise the influence of nature or nurture in its assumptions. For example the cognitive approach has done research into intelligence but has not looked at the influence of genes in its research or environmental factors (such as wealth) that could influence intelligence. Overall the approaches have more similarities than differences. ?? ?? ?? ?? AS Psychology - Compare and Contrast - Group Work Model Answers ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

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The writer has made a very good attempt at comparing and contrasting the different psychological approaches. Quite a lot of detail has been included although more referencing needs to be added so that it is clear where the ideas have come from.

To improve this essay the writer needs to organise the content better. It would be advisable to give a clear, concise and accurate account of each theory or approach and then compare and contrast them.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 14/10/2013

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