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What is Psychology?

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TASK 1 What is Psychology? Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of human behavior and how humans experience the world around them from a rational, scientific point of view rather than from a mythical or spiritual view. There are several areas of professional psychology activity, two of which are briefly described below. Clinical Psychology A Clinical Psychologist works with a variety of people with mental health issues, in a number of service settings such as mental health clinics, general and psychiatric hospitals, prisons and higher educational establishments. Clinical Psychologist uses a broad approach to assessing human individual and interpersonal problems; this may involve interviews to assess the individuals development, behavior, personality, cognitive process, and emotional and social function. Once an assessment is made, the clinical psychologist uses a variety of treatments to develop and maintain therapeutic relationships with clients, this is because the whole purpose of intervention is to empower clients to make adaptive choices and to gain healthy control of their own lives. Educational Psychology An Educational Psychologist works with children, with special educational needs, learning difficulties, dyslexia, behavioral problems and sometimes gifted children. Various methods are used to assess the child's strengths and weaknesses in order to establish the important factors that are affecting the child's learning and behavior this involves working with the family to gain an insight into the child's background, and working with the school to find out what problems the child is having or other agencies involved in the child's welfare who may be able to help in getting an objective picture in order to provide a framework for discussing solutions to problems. ...read more.


Pavlov studied the conditioning reflex responses also known as Classical Conditioning- the process through which a reflex response becomes associated with a stimulus that does not naturally activate that behavior it concentrates on the relationship between stimulus and response because it is not always possible to determine which stimuli brought about which response. Thorndike's work focused on the condition of voluntary behavior also known as Operant Conditioning- the conditioning of voluntary behavior through the use of reinforcement and punishment. The most influential behaviorist approach to this was Skinners work on operant conditioning, by using animals; he focused on the stimuli that may produce particular responses and the rewards and punishment that may influence that change in behavior. This theory of operant conditioning could apply to humans as well as animals. Strengths 1. It has contributed to our understanding of psychological functioning and has provided a number of techniques for changing unwanted behavior. 2. Its use of proven experimental methods has enhanced the credibility of psychology as a science. Weaknesses 1. It fails to acknowledge the possibility of biological factors in human behavior by overlooking the conscious and subjective experience of individuals. 2. Individuals are seen as passive beings at the mercy of their environment. 3. Its basis on animal research including the use of rats has been questioned. 4. The theories on classical and operant conditioning cannot account for the production of spontaneous, novel or creative behavior. 5. The assumption commonly made by behaviorist is that the theory applies to any response in any species without taking into account biological limits of conditioning e.g.; that ...read more.


For example, some people who suffer from stress may tend to loose weight or have little interest in food rather than "comfort eat" and gain weight, as in obese people or people who eat the same amount as obese people and yet do not put on any more weight than if they had a "normal" meal. It could also be argued that people who are obese could be due to genetic/biological factors rather than the amount they eat. This highlights the points that peoples' individual metabolism efficiency varies and that people will gain weight on the same dietary intake as someone with a less efficient metabolism who may loose weight ( Rodin et al., 1989, P.190) According to the National Centre for Eating Disorders, recent research suggest that body weight and size however are not totally under environmental control, for example genetic predisposition, resting metabolic rate and fat cell number, can all influence the degree to which body weight and shape can be altered. Research has also shown that people with eating disorders have very low self esteem- where this expresses itself in poor body image; it of course makes them vulnerable to pressures to diet. Treatment of an eating disorder is a lengthy and often complex process and may involve various psychological approaches in therapy ranging from behavioral changes to the way patients deal with the social and psychological pressures of a society whose culture dictates how people in particularly women are expected to "change their shape to suit the fashion of the day"(National Centre for eating Disorders). Josephine Swaray Psychology Assignment 1 ...read more.

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