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Describe And Evaluate Two Approaches In Psychology - Sigmund Freud

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Introduction

Describe And Evaluate Two Approaches In Psychology. In 1900, Sigmund Freud, a neurologist living in Vienna, first published his psychoanalytic theory of personality in which the unconscious mind played a crucial role. Freud combined the then current cognitive notions of consciousness, perception and memory with ideas of biologically based instincts, to make a bold new theory of psychodynamics. Freud's theory, which forms the basis of the psychodynamic approach, represented a challenge and a major alternative to behaviourism. Freud's theory of personality was based on the assumption that all our behaviour stems from the unconscious processes. He divided the personality into three different parts. The id, the ego and the superego, which are often in conflict. The id operates on the pleasure principle and seeks immediate gratification. The ego obeys the reality principle and plans for the future. The superego is conscious and makes us aware of moral standards. Freud believed that people have a continuous stream of psychic energy. He called this constant psychic energy the libido, reflecting that the sex drive was a primary life instinct (Eros). Freud later believed we were driven by the death drive (Thantos), which is energy manifest in aggression. If a forbidden act or impulse is repressed, the energy will seek an other outlet, such as in dreams or neurotic symptoms. Freud believed we went through several personality developmental stages in the primary years. He called these stages the psychosexual stages. ...read more.

Middle

Watson's form of psychology was known as behaviourism. In 1913, Watson was working in the field of animal psychology and thought that the term animals could include humans. Watson was not interested in the mental processes. He saw no role for the mind and consciousness. Watson thought behaviour was observable and therefore scientific. The mind and its thought processes were abstract and unobservable and therefore unscientific. Behaviourism was defined by Watson as the study of the association between a stimulus and a response. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) was a Russian physiologist studying the digestion of dogs, when he found that the laboratory dogs could be conditioned to salivate without food. This learnt behaviour was called classical conditioning. Behaviourism began with the study of animals and experiments were taking over from simply watching them in their natural environment. Thorndike (1911) was interested in human behaviour although he used animals for his experiments for ethical reasons. Thorndike used a puzzle box with a complicated set of pegs and pulleys and watched as the animals attempted to escape. Eventually though trial and error, the animal would manage to open the door and it was rewarded with food. So escaping from the box had become desirable. The animal would then be placed in the box again and after several repetitions the animal preformed the necessary response to open the door more quickly. ...read more.

Conclusion

One criticism of this is that there are brain differences in humans so you cannot generalise from animal to human responses. Watson's work gathered quantitative data, and did not look at the emotional responses. Emotions are qualitative and not easy measurable. It is doubtful that conditioning accounts for all human behaviour and emotions. Humans are far more complex. Social learning theory has made a major contribution to clinical psychology and personality theory. It has led us to see that human actions are related to the environment and the way our environment can be changed to modify our behaviour. It has also been successful in changing many maladaptive behaviours. Social learning can explain the acquirement of new behaviours such as aggression and it can explain why children appear to have spontaneously acquired a new behaviour. However, it cannot explain the acquisition of new behaviours that have not been observed. Social learning has been criticised for overemphasising the importance of situational influences on behaviour and losing the individuals personality. Although there are clear divisions in these two approaches. There is no doubt that the perspectives and the research have contributed a great deal to understanding both human and animal behaviours. However, it is worth remembering that psychology is a dynamic science. New theories, notions and experiments are conducted everyday. As technology advances so does the field of psychology. Psychology needs to be studied from all perspectives and an objective frame of mind is needed to attain a greater understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. ...read more.

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