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Define Psychology using four perspectives; Psychoanalytical, Behaviourist, Humanistic and Cognitive

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Define Psychology using three perspectives: Psychoanalytical, Behaviourist and Cognitive. The word 'Psychology' is derived from two Greek root: 'Psyche', meaning 'mind' or 'soul' and 'Logos', meaning 'study of'. A more recent definition is that of Atkinson et al (1991) suggesting that psychology is: 'The scientific study of behaviour and mental processes'. A contradiction to this is the dictionary definition claiming that psychology is 'the study of human and animal behaviour' and the informal term being 'a person's mental makeup'. All definitions are correct in their own rights but as simple definitions are slightly misleading as throughout history, psychologists have not only disagreed about the designation of psychology but what and how it should be studied. I will be concentrating on defining psychology using a variety of perspectives and describing how psychologists have developed them. Firstly, I will introduce, discuss and explain each approach before then deciding on arguments for and against them. Finally, I will give an evaluation of the relevance of each approach, highlighting the bias and flaws and inputting my own ideas and opinions on what I feel best defines psychology. Psychoanalysis is name applied to a specific method of investigating unconscious mental process and to a form of psychotherapy. The term also refers to the systematic structure of psychoanalytical theory, which is based on the relation of conscious psychological processes. The technique of psychoanalysis and much of the psychoanalytic theory were developed by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). ...read more.


Around the turn of the twentieth century, American psychologist Edward Lee Thorndike (1874-1949) investigated how animals learn. In one series of observations he placed a cat in a 'puzzle box' and measured the time it took to escape. Over a number of trials, the time taken to escape decreased. From his observations he developed the Law of (positive) Effect, this states that any behaviour leading to a positive outcome will tend to be repeated in similar circumstances. Thorndike's work was developed by the behaviourists including B.F. Skinner (1904-90). Skinner believed it was unnecessary to look for any underlying causes of behaviour. He explained all behaviour with reference to the reinforcement contingencies that could be used to change it. Reinforcement is a key concept in behaviourism; it increases the likelihood that an action will be repeated in the future. Punishment on the other hand, reduces the likelihood that an action will be repeated. For example, shouting at the child who is behaving in an irritating way, might in fact lead to the behaviour appearing more frequently. The shouting, therefore, has seen as reinforcing (e.g. by providing attention) rather punishing. One of the main moral issues surrounding behaviourism relates to its ideas about control. A primary belief in behavioural theory is the belief that human behaviour is the belief that human behaviour does not just happen, but rather it is caused by environmental events that we cannot control. In other words, behaviourism is strongly deterministic. ...read more.


My conclusions are simple I, personally believe that it is possible to use every one of the approach of psychology to make a final definition of the term. To leave any approach out the explanation would make your definition less valid and factual, I myself have failed to mention to two of the main approaches, Humanism (looking at our previous experiences) and Biological (looking at what we are made of), due to lengthy description and analysis I have gone into of each approach. There are many more approaches, not ignored or any less important than the others-evolutionary, structuralism etc which are perhaps not as popular or as mentionable as the others but that could still be use to define the term, psychology. The reason some choose to apply, develop and quote some approaches rather than others is due to personal opinion rather than one being considerably better than the other. Each have approximately the same amount of strengths and weaknesses as the other therefore it is not possibly to claim one as being officially the best approach. I personally do not have a preferred perspective, and if asked to explain psychology I would quote from each model as I feel each helps enlighten to as what psychology is about. Consequently I can conclude that to define psychology I do not feel it possible to use one quote, statement, theory or idea and each and every theory will add to a section of your explanation of what is the complex subject we call Psychology. 1 ...read more.

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The writer has given a good introduction to each of the approaches and has covered quite a lot of ground. However, when writing about specific approaches in psychology pick out the most important aspects of that approach and try and concisely write about the salient points. This is a difficult task and so writing a plan to give the essay some structure is important.

The writer has covered a great deal but at times it is unclear whether or not the writer really understands the key points of each approach. Also, some of the fundamentals about each approach have been left out. These have been pointed out and so a little more reading around the subject matter may help improve this essay.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 01/05/2013

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