Debates in psychology

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Debates in psychology
1 Nature/Nurture
1.1 Biological: Nature: explains human behaviour in terms of genes, brain structures, hormones, and neurotransmitters
1.2 Psychodynamic + Cognitive: Interactionist: take into account both nautre and nurture and see both as important
1.2.1 Psychodynamic: behaviour is the product of the interactions between innate and environmental factors.
1.2.2 Cognitive: examines internal mental processes which are seen as universal (nature) and how the environment affects our htinking and behaviour (nurture)
1.3 Strengths + weaknesses: The behaviourist apprach ignores the role of genes, which research suggests play a large part in our behaviour. Likewise, the biological approach does not appreciate the importance of the environment. An interactionist approach is best, as it takes into account all factors. However, it could be argued that while the psychodynamic and cognitive approaches are interactionist, they still ignore some explanations. For instance, neither takes into account the role of genes
1.4 Nurture
1.4.1 Behaviourism: all behaviour is the product of the environment.
1.4.2 Humanistic: many of the problems and barriers that people experience in life are due to their environments.
2 Reductionism/Holism
2.1 Reductionist
2.1.1 Biological: it explains complex behaviour by looking at the role of genes, hormones, etc which are small, easy to understand components
2.1.2 Behaviourism: all human behaviour is seen in terms of a series of stimulus-response associations
2.1.3 Cognitive: Information processing models e.g. multi-store model take a reductionist view of the mind
2.2 Holistic
2.2.1 Humanism: it rejects the notion that the person can be reduced to S-R units or biological foundations
2.2.2 Psychodynamic: Freud takes the view that the individual can only be understood by looking at the complexities of their experience. Behaviour cannot be reduced down to simple causes.
2.3 Strengths + weaknesses: A reductionist approach is scientific as it produces explanations that are easy to test. Reductionism underlines all psychological research, as scientists aim to break down complex phenomena into smaller parts which can be examined. However, reductionist explanation can over simplify complex behaviour, and be limited in tis ability to explain. Unlike animal behaviour, it is difficult to reduce human behaviour to our constituent parts.
3 Nomothetic/Idiographic
3.1 Idiographic
3.1.1 Psychodynamic: Freud takes an idiographic viewpoint, unlike someone like Eysenck who suggests personality can be boiled down to a few universal types
3.1.2 Humanistic: - it suggests that each individual's unique experience is what counts. It is pointless trying to study large groups of people and drawing generalised conclusions.
3.1.3 Strengths + weaknesses: a nomothetic approach is scientific as it allows laws to be generalised that apply to all people. Nomothetic methods also produce testable hypotheses and allow us to legitimately draw comparisons between different groups of people. However, nomothetic methods ignore individual differences and the uniqueness of people. The idiogrpahic method, on the other hand, emphasises the uniqueness of individuals, and can lead to a greater understanding of behaviour. Idiographic methods are limited in their usefulness, as results from one person can often not be generalised
3.2 Nomothetic
3.2.1 Cognitive: as many Participants should be studied as possible and general theories produced
3.2.2 Behaviourism: a wide number of subjects should ideally be studied
3.2.3 Biolgical: a wide number of subjects should be studied and general theories produced
4 Free will/Determinism
4.1 Free will
4.1.1 Cognitive: The cognitive model of abnormality sees the patient as being 'in-control' of their own destiny but other aspects of the cognitive model take a deterministic view
4.1.2 Humanistic: the notion is that we all have the power of personal agency and can grown and change if we want to; it rejects the deterministic viewpoint of the biological and psychoanalytical approaches
4.2 Determinism
4.2.1 Behaviourism: behaviour is determined by the environment
4.2.2 Biological: Behaviour is determined by our genes and biology
4.2.3 Psychodynamic: one of Freud’s assumptions was psychological determinism, which suggests that nothing we ever do is accidental
4.3 Strengths + weaknesses: a problem of free will is causality, as it would suggest that nothing causes an action. However, free will suggests that people are responsible for their own actions, unlike determinism. Behaviour is not precisely predictable so there will always be uncertainty. It is also impossible to conceive how determinism could actually be disproved - so it is an untestable idea. However, it is impossible to demonstrate that a behaviour is freely chosen. Deterministic approaches also tend to be very scientific
5 Psychology as a science
5.1 Scientific approaches
5.1.1 Biolgical: use of empirical methods, quantitative date and controlled variables.
5.1.2 Behaviourism: only looks at observable behaviour, not thought processes or emotions, so methods are empirical
5.1.3 Cognitive: empirical methods are used such as memory tests, so findings are easily replicated and theories can be falsifiable. However, it is hard to separate cognitive processes
5.2 Non-scientific approaches
5.2.1 Psychodynamic: based on absrtact concepts that cannot be tested such as the unconscious mind, and are therefore unfalsifiable. Also uses non-experimental methods such as cases, therefore unreliable and cannot be generalised
5.2.2 Humanistic: rejected a rigorous scientific approach to psychology because they saw it as dehumanizing and unable to capture the richness of conscious experience
5.3 Strengths + weaknesses: Science assumes that there are laws of human behaviour that apply to each person (deterministic + reductionist). Can be argued that objectivity is impossible as humans are studying humans. verification may also be impossible because we can never truly prove a hypothesis (Popperian example hypothesis "all swans are white")

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