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Describe and evaluate one of the major approaches to psychology in terms of its contributions to understanding human behaviour.

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Describe and evaluate one of the major approaches to psychology in terms of its contributions to understanding human behaviour. Behaviourism is known to be the second major approach of psychology. This approach will be used for the purpose of this essay to assess the contributions made to help understand human behaviour. In terms of human behaviour we will focus in particular on consumer behaviour. First of all it will be useful to examine the early beginnings of this theory. In the second part of this paper the behaviourist approach in its pure sense will be introduced before moving onto the evaluation of the approach in terms of its correlation between the theory and how is has been applied in reality. The next important part of this composition shows the valid contribution made to help consumer psychologists understand consumer behaviour. Finally the paper will conclude with a view of the arguments for and against this subject and an overall summary of the contents. We will begin by going back to the 17th Century when two British empirical philosophers Hobbs and Locke were approaching psychology from a different perspective than what had gone before. ...read more.


---> arousal (CR) Fig 1 Fig 2 From this example of classical conditioning we now move onto operant conditioning. Operant or instrumental conditioning involves a different series of events, and this what we usually think of as learning. The general pattern is: * Behaviour ---> consequences ---> behaviour is more or less likely to be repeated There are three major forms of operant learning (positive reinforcement, punishment and negative reinforcement) and the correlation is shown below (again between the pure theory and the applied reality) in the following instances (Glassman 2000:118). In positive reinforcement, an individual does something and is rewarded. He or she is then more likely to repeat the behaviour. For example, you eat a candy bar (behaviour), it tastes good (consequence), and you are thus more likely to eat a similar candy bar in the future (behavioural change). Punishment is the opposite. You eat what looks like a piece of candy (behaviour), only to discover that it is a piece of soap with a foul taste (consequences), and subsequently you are less likely to eat anything that looks remotely like that thing ever again (changed behaviour). It should be noted that negative reinforcement is very different from punishment. ...read more.


On the other hand the consumer and humans in general have many other aspects to their individual make up that the behaviorist approach does not take into account such as how people think, feel, reason, how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment, consumers will sometimes be persuaded more by logical arguments, but at other times will be persuaded more by emotional or symbolic appeals. I therefore disagree that using this approach alone would allow a complete picture to be formed. I feel that additional perspectives, such as the psychoanalytical approach, (which would look at people's emotions and what is happening at an unconscious level). Needs to be taken into account to have a more rounded view of the consumer and his or her behaviour. To summarise this paper we have looked at the behaviourist approach and discussed how it has contributed to the understanding of human behaviour. In this instance in terms of consumer behaviour. We started with the foundations of this approach and we established links between the theories of early behaviorists such as Pavlov, Skinner, Watson and Thorndike and the applied conditioning used in our consumer society. It can be said that this approach has contributed a great deal to understanding consumer behaviour and in our consumer society we see many marketing strategies that reflect the philosophy of the behaviourist ideology. ...read more.

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