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Scientific methods in psychology - behaviourist and humanist approaches.

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Nelson Truran Through sciences like biology and chemistry we have discovered the function and reactions of the external. But only through psychology have we turned that inquisition inwards and revealed the most basic of questions like, "why does little sally cry uncontrollably when we leave her alone?" or "why does Frank cut the faces out of pictures?" Looking back over time it seems strange that we would establish the meaning of biological processes like the solar cycle, before we even fathomed the mental development of human beings. Scientific Approaches differ, sometimes slightly, sometimes to a larger quantity, from psychological approaches. This is not to say it is impossible to use scientific approaches in psychology, more like it IS possible to both use scientific approaches and other means to achieve understanding of the mind and behaviour. ...read more.


This causes a circular problem: You can't prove a theory without scientific fact, and you can't gather scientific facts of said theory. If we, for example, take the behaviouristic approach's explanation for aggressive behaviour amongst children and gather only scientific data, like, 95/100 children that behaved badly in experiment X have received reinforcement for bad behaviour in the past. This study shows that 95% of children behave badly because they are reinforced to do so. Behaviourism is one of the more scientific psychological approaches so from a behaviourist perspective this is correct. Yet a lot of psychologists would disagree with the above statement one such argument would be, "This study shows only empirical data and does not account for the individual thought processes of the badly behaved children." ...read more.


This weakness in scientific method may, over time, augment as we understand more about human behaviour and one day, perhaps, we would be able to understand the mind well enough to enumerate behaviour and grasp behaviour in such detail that we could run simple yet advanced tests on humans to obtain an understanding of the mind behaviour and more. Psychology at this point in time is immature and needs to develop more before we can account it an exact science, in the future we may be able to use scientific methods as easily in psychology as in chemistry or physics, but at this time, in my opinion, we would be better off following theories and hunches as well as scientific method. ...read more.

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Research methodology in psychology can be placed into two categories which include quantitative and qualitative research. Qualitative research uses open ended questioning, diary accounts, interviews and unstructured observations. Quantitative research however, is more concerned with the measuring of things. The writer needs to understand the differences between the two. The writer then needs to describe Behaviourism and the scientific methods used to measure behaviour. Following on from this could be an introduction to Humanism and the kind of scientific research methods that would be employed, if any.

Finally, the writer needs to conclude the work by weighing up all the information.

Although the writing style is easy to follow, more detail needs to be added, some references need to be included and the writer needs to structure the essay better. At present it is rather vague with little real content.

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Marked by teacher Linda Penn 14/10/2013

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