Little Albert case

A similarity between the two approaches is that they are both useful. The biological approach has been successfully applied to the real world in terms of treating mental disorders. Chemotherapy is a popular form of treatment that enables patients with mental illnesses to live a relatively normal life. The biological approach also had a major impact on our understanding of the link between stress and illness thanks to Selye’s research on rats. This has led to a large amount of other research that people recover less quickly from wounds when they are stressed.

This has been applied to hospital settings to reduce stress and anxiety and help patients recover quickly. The psychodynamic approach has also been useful in several ways. It highlights the importance of childhood experiences, arguing that it is a critical period of development. Who we become is greatly influenced by childhood experiences. Ideas put forward by Freud have greatly influenced therapies used to treat mental disorders. For example, Freud was the first person to recognise that psychological factors could influence physical symptoms of paralysis as shown in the Anna O case study.

Another similarity between the two approaches is that both are deterministic. The biological approach aims to ‘predetermine’ our behaviour so therapy can be developed to aid abnormal behaviour. For example, psychologists seek to understand the functioning of neurotransmitters so they are able to predict the effects of neurotransmitters on normal/abnormal human behaviour. In the case of schizophrenia psychologists have evidence that suggests that high levels of dopamine predetermine schizophrenic characteristics.

The psychodynamic approach and Freud particularly believed that our behaviour is determined by innate drives (id, ego and superego) and childhood experiences. It therefore believes that we have no free will or choice on who we become or how we behave. It sees our behaviour as being shaped by forces that we cannot change nor have any control of. A difference between the two approaches is linked to the nature/nurture debate. The biological approach focuses on nature.

The main assumption of the approach are that all psychological disorders can be explained by biological problems in the body, in terms of genetics, DNA, hormones and brain structure etc. For example, schizophrenia is explained by the biological approach by high levels of dopamine or genetic make-up. This clearly shows that nature is the true cause of psychological abnormalities. The psychodynamic approach takes into account both nature (innate drives) and nurture (childhood experiences). Freud claimed that adult personality is the product of innate drives (nature) and childhood experiences (nurture).

These innate drives include the structures of personality (id, ego and superego) as well as the psychosexual stages of personality development which every child passes through. If a child does not pass through these processes successfully it could lead to abnormalities in behaviour. A further difference between the two approaches is that the biological approach is a scientific approach whilst the psychodynamic is a non-scientific approach. The biological approach is scientific because it uses scientific methods to observe variables by controlling and objectively measuring variables in a controlled environment.

For example, Selye’s research on rats was conducted in a laboratory experiment where he exposed rats to certain harmful agents and then observed the effects of these ‘agents’ on the behaviour and physiological response the animal showed. In the case of chemotherapy research has investigated the links between psychoactive drugs and the production of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, and linked this to behaviour. These examples show the scientific approach as they fulfil the aims of the research, conducted objectively and are controlled studies.

The psychodynamic approach on the other hand is not scientific as it is not testable, therefore making it difficult to falsify. A good theory should be able to be tested to prove if it is right or wrong. It is difficult to test this theory scientifically. For example, the use of dream analysis is a subjective method and there are no scientific measurements of interpretation. Also much of Freud’s work was based on a very small sample and it is difficult to generalise these findings to other people in the population. Compare and contrast the behavioural and cognitive approaches in terms of similarities and differences.

[12 Marks] There are various reasons why the cognitive and behavioural approaches are similar and different. The behaviourist and cognitive approaches are both similar in that they are useful as they try to treat mental illnesses. The cognitive approach has made important contributions in the field of psychology, particularly that for treatment of depression. The cognitive approach has been applied successfully in therapy. As one of the core assumptions of the cognitive approach is that mental processes influence our behaviour, therefore if these processes are irrational this can lead to psychological problems.

Therapy, such as RET, aims to replace these irrational thoughts with more positive ones. For example, a Meta analysis by Engels (1994) concludes that RET is an effective treatment for a number of different disorders. The Behavioural approach has been successfully applied to the real world, particularly, in the treatment of phobias and education. Classical conditioning has been applied to systematic desensitisation, and this has been helpful in helping people deal with phobias. The principles of operant conditioning have been applied in education, helping to underlie successful teaching.

Positive reinforcement and punishment have helped shape behaviour in the classroom. Skinner applied the principles of operant conditioning to teaching. Skinners concepts meant that each student could work at their own pace and receive positive reinforcement to encourage future learning. Both approaches are similar in that they are reductionist – they reduce human behaviour to simple factors. The cognitive approach only focuses on mechanistic factors that affect our behaviour. This approach is mechanistic as it portrays human behaviour as being like that of a machine.

The cognitive approach is based on the behaviour of computers so it is logical that the outcome would be mechanical. For example one of the main criticisms of Kelley’s co-variation model was that it assumed that individuals behave in a logical manner and ignores the fact that individuals can be irrational. This approach is reductionist as it ignores social and emotional factors. The behavioural approach is reductionist as it only focuses on simple environmental factors that influence human behaviour.

This approach believes that all human behaviour is determined by environmental factors therefore emphasises the nurture argument. Classical and operant conditioning are the core assumptions that influence human behaviour. It reduces human behaviour to basic human elements. It ignores all biological and cognitive factors that could influence our behaviour. The approaches are also similar as they are both deterministic. The cognitive approach is deterministic as schemas are seen to be important in an individual’s behaviour.

Schemas are acquired through direct experiences. Another way schemas are acquired is through social interaction and we learn stereotypes through these interactions e. g. ‘A person wearing a ‘hoodie’ outside in the dark is supposedly dangerous’. Such stereotypes determine the way we interpret a situation. The behaviourist approach is deterministic as they believe that behaviour is influenced exclusively by classical and operant conditioning. This means that we are predetermined to develop a phobia if we have a negative association with it.

Free will is not considered in this approach which tells us that people have no personal responsibility for their behaviour. Scientifically the approaches are both similar. In the cognitive approach psychologists believe that behaviour should be testable in a scientific manner. One of the assumptions is that all behaviour should be measurable in a quantitative manner and studied objectively. For example, a laboratory experiment produced by Loftus (1987) found that if victims are faced with a weapon, they tend to focus only on this weapon rather than the offender.

This experiment was in a controlled environment, it allowed Loftus to determine cause and effect. The behaviourist approach also believes that behaviour should be measured in a quantitative manner an example being Bandura’s work; it was performed under laboratory conditions, one of the most scientific methods. In these experiments children are assigned to experimental conditions or controlled conditions by changing the variables Bandura could conclude that aggression was due to the social learning theory.

The only difference in these approaches is that the behavioural approach focuses on nurture whereas the cognitive approach focuses on neither. Behaviourists believe that we are born as a blank slate and society shapes our behaviour. The two main processes of learning behaviour are through classical conditioning and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning is learning through association and operant conditioning is learning through positive and negative association/reinforcement.

Behaviourist approach would believe that phobias are a learnt process via classical conditioning, as shown in the Little Albert case. On the other hand the cognitive approach has failed to recognise the influence of nature or nurture in its assumptions. For example the cognitive approach has done research into intelligence but has not looked at the influence of genes in its research or environmental factors (such as wealth) that could influence intelligence. Overall the approaches have more similarities than differences.

Compare and Contrast the Psychodynamic and Cognitive approaches in terms of similarities and differences. [12 Marks] The cognitive and psychodynamic approaches have many similarities and differences; these include debates in nature and nurture, the usefulness of these approaches, deterministic and …

Another similarity is that both approaches are reductionist. The biological approach is reductionist as it only focuses on simple physiological factors that influence human behaviour. Biological explanations reduce complex human behaviours to a set of simple explanations, for example reducing …

A Psychological perspective is a view or an approach to studying human behaviour. Smoking today kills around 4 million people every year; it is the main cause of lung cancer and disease in humans. To understand smoking behaviour we can …

The purpose of this essay is to discuss and evaluate different approaches that are used to find the cause and treat various mental disorders. There are five major approaches in Psychology, which are: The Behaviourist Approach, The Cognitive Approach, The …

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