Approaches to Psychology The Different Approaches



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Approaches to Psychology


The Different Approaches

  • The problems you wish to investigate are tied to a number of theoretical approaches to psychology

  • There are six basic approaches to the study of psychology (some psychologists also include a seventh approach)



Seven Approaches

  • 1. Evolutionary

  • 2. Biological

  • 3. Behavioral

  • 4. Cognitive

  • 5. Humanistic

  • 6. Psychodynamic

  • 7. Sociocultural



Application

  • How do you explain the causes of depression?

  • How do you examine the personality of an assassin?



Application #2

  • How can we explain the power of cult leaders?

  • What social conditions exist that promote the rise of cults?



Application #3

  • How could you investigate the causes of mental illness?



Application #4

  • How could you explain the reasons for obedience to authority?



Application #5

  • How could you achieve a better understanding of why a person would commit suicide?



Application #6

    • Where would you look if you wanted to understand how and why some people seem so extraordinary and important in our society?


Overview of Each Approach

  • Biological: Focuses primarily on the activities of the nervous system, the brain, hormones, and genetics

  • Psychodynamic: Emphasizes internal, unconscious conflicts; the focus is on sexual and aggressive instincts that collide with cultural norms



Overview (cont.)

  • Behavioral: Examines the learning process, focusing in particular on the influence of rewards and punishments

  • Evolutionary: Investigates how primal survival instincts can influence behavior



Overview (cont.)

  • Cognitive: Focuses on the mechanisms through which people receive, store, and process information

  • Humanistic: Emphasizes an individual’s potential for growth and the role of perception in guiding mental processes and behavior



Overview (cont.)

  • Sociocultural: Explores how behavior is shaped by history, society, and culture



The Evolutionary Approach

  • Functionalism

  • Why we do what we do

  • The influence of Charles Darwin



Natural Selection

  • An evolutionary process in which individuals of a species that are best adapted to their environments are the ones most likely to survive; they then pass on these traits to their offspring



James’s Adaptation of Darwin’s Principles

  • “The most adaptive behaviors in an individual are the ones that grow stronger and become habitual.”



Key Points in the Evolutionary Approach

  • The adaptive value of behavior

  • The biological mechanisms that make it possible

  • The environmental conditions that either encourage or discourage behavior



The Adaptive Value

  • Evolutionary psychology examines behaviors in terms of their adaptive value for a species over the course of many generations



An Example from the Evolutionary Perspective

  • Male vs. Female: differences in visual-spatial ability

  • Hunting vs. gathering



Other Examples

  • Fear of snakes and spiders

  • Greater sexual jealousy in males

  • Preference for foods rich in fats and sugars

  • Women’s greater emphasis on a potential mate’s economic resources



Other Evolutionary Notions

  • Mating preferences, jealousy, aggression, sexual behavior, language, decision making, personality, and development

  • Critics



The Biological Approach

  • Behavior and mental processes are largely shaped by biological processes

  • It is not identified with any single contributor



The Biological Focus

  • The brain and central nervous system

  • Sensation and perception

  • Autonomic nervous system

  • Endocrine system

  • Heredity and genetics



Biological Focus (cont.)

  • The physiological basis of how we learn and remember

  • The sleep-wake cycle

  • Motivation and emotion

  • Understanding the physical bases of mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia



Major Contributors



Howard Gardner

  • Studied brain damage and neurological disorders

  • Created the theory of multiple intelligences

  • The different types of intelligence



Hans Eysenck

  • Importance of genetics

  • Intelligence is inherited

  • Personality has a biological component

  • Hierarchy of personality traits



Roger Sperry

  • Split-brain surgery

  • Techniques for measuring the different functions of the hemispheres of the brain

  • Application: epilepsy



William James

  • Humans are motivated by a variety of biological instincts

  • Instincts are inherited tendencies

  • The father of American psychology



Masters & Johnson

  • Study of human sexuality

  • They used physiological recording devices to monitor bodily changes of volunteers engaging in sexual activity

  • Insights into sexual problems



Judith Rodin

  • Study on obesity

  • Genetic predispositions



David McClelland

  • Achievement and motivation

  • Characteristics of high-achieving people



Stanley Schachter



Elizabeth Loftus

  • Study of memory

  • Eyewitness testimony

  • Myth or repressed memories?



Gustav Fechner

  • Psychophysics: the study of the relationship between sensory experiences and the physical stimuli that cause them

  • Revolutionized the field of experimental psychology



David Hubel

  • Nobel Prize winner (transforming sensory information)

  • Implantation of electrodes into the cortex of a cat



Erik Kandel

  • Molecular biologist and Nobel Prize winner

  • Learning results in the formation of new memories



Hermann Von Helmholtz

  • Color vision: color receptors in the retina transmit messages to the brain when visible lights of different wavelengths stimulate them



Paul Ekman

  • Emotions and how the human face expresses them

  • Human emotions are universal



The Psychodynamic Approach



The Psychodynamic/ Psychoanalytic Approach

  • Examines unconscious motives influenced by experiences in early childhood and how these motives govern personality and mental disorders

  • Free association and psychoanalysis



Sigmund Freud

  • The “Father of psychoanalysis”

  • The second mind, unconscious

  • Repression, free association, dream analysis

  • Theory of personality



Carl Jung

  • Analytical psychology

  • Personal and collective unconscious

  • Archetypes



Alfred Adler

  • Individual psychology

  • Striving for perfection, compensation, and the inferiority complex

  • Ordinal position



Anna Freud

  • Founder of child psychoanalysis

  • Defense mechanisms



Erik Erikson

  • A neo-Freudian

  • A strong need for social approval

  • Psychosocial development and crises



The Humanistic Approach



The “Third Force” in Psychology

  • Rejected the views of both behaviorism and psychoanalytic thought

  • Free will and conscious choice



The Humanists Revolt

  • Humanists felt that both behaviorist and psychoanalytic perspectives were dehumanizing

  • Humanists believed that behaviorism and psychoanalysis ignored personal growth

  • An optimistic view of human potential



More Differences

  • Choices are not dictated by instincts, the biological process, or rewards and punishments

  • The world is a friendly, happy, secure place



Carl Rogers

  • In the 1940s, humanism began to receive attention because of Rogers

  • Human behavior is governed by each individual’s sense of self

  • The drive for personal growth



Application of the Humanistic Approach

  • Greatest contribution comes in the area of therapy

  • Client-centered therapy



Abraham Maslow

  • Hierarchy of needs, theory of motivation

  • Becoming fully self-actualized

  • Emphasis on uniqueness



Albert Ellis

  • Creator of rational-emotive therapy

  • Self-defeating thoughts cause depression and anxiety

  • “I must be loved by all” is an unrealistic notion



Criticisms of the Humanistic Approach

  • Not all people have the same needs or meet them in a hierarchical fashion

  • The humanistic approach is vague and unscientific



The Cognitive Approach



The Cognitive Perspective

  • Studies people’s mental processes in an effort to understand how humans gain knowledge about the world around them

  • Cognito = Latin for “knowledge”

  • How we learn, form concepts, solve problems, make decisions, use language



What Is Cognition?

  • An “unobservable” mental process

  • The study of consciousness, physiological determinants of behavior

  • 1950s-1960s: new understanding of children’s cognitive development



Advocates of the Cognitive Approach

  • The manipulation of mental images can influence how people behave

  • The focus is not on “overt” behavior

  • The cognitive method can be studied objectively and scientifically



Wilhelm Wundt

  • He used “introspection” as a research technique

  • He set up the first psychology laboratory

  • Voluntarism



Edward Titchener

  • Structuralism

  • The mind is structured by breaking down mental experiences into smaller components



Jean Piaget

  • Child psychologist

  • Educational reforms

  • Children are not “blank slates”



Noam Chomsky

  • Infants possess an innate capacity for language

  • Transformational grammar



Albert Bandura

  • Social Cognitive Theory: a form of learning in which the animal or person observes and imitates the behavior of others

  • Cognitive learning theory/expectancies



Lawrence Kohlberg

  • How children develop a sense of right and wrong

  • He borrowed from Piaget

  • Moral questions



Albert Ellis

  • RET/Changing unrealistic assumptions

  • People behave in rational ways

  • Role playing



Hans Eysenck

  • Trait theory and personality development



Aaron Beck

  • A cognitive therapist

  • Maladaptive thought patterns cause a distorted view of oneself that leads to problems



Stanley Schachter

  • “Misery loves company”

  • Anxiety and companionship



Howard Gardner

  • Multiple forms of intelligence



The Behavioral Approach



What Is Behaviorism?

  • Focuses on observable behavior and the role of learning in behavior

  • Behaviorism continues to influence modern psychology

  • The role of reward and punishment in learning



Applications of Behaviorism

  • Aggression

  • Drug abuse

  • Self-confidence issues

  • Overeating

  • Criminality



John Watson

  • The father of behaviorism

  • Psychology should become a science of behavior

  • Environment molds the behavior of us all



Ivan Pavlov

  • Nobel Prize winner

  • Psychic reflexes

  • Classical conditioning



B.F. Skinner

  • A strict behaviorist

  • Operant conditioning: rewards and punishments



Edward Thorndike

  • Studied animal thinking and reasoning abilities

  • The puzzle box, instrumental learning

  • Laid the groundwork for operant conditioning



The Sociocultural Approach



Why Has Psychology’s Focus Been So Narrow?

  • Cross-cultural research is costly, difficult, and time consuming

  • Psychology has traditionally focused on the individual, not the group

  • Cultural comparisons may foster stereotypes



Sociocultural Issues

  • Ethnicity

  • Gender issues

  • Lifestyles

  • Income

  • The influence of culture on behavior and the mental process



Stanley Milgram

  • Classical experiment on obedience to authority



Solomon Asch

  • 1950 conformity study showed that people tend to conform to other people’s ideas of truth even when they disagree with those ideas



Harry Harlow

  • Challenged drive-reduction theory

  • Surrogate mothers

  • Contact comfort



Albert Bandura

  • Social learning and modeling

  • Learning and aggression



Arthur Jensen

  • Cultural differences in IQ

  • Is IQ inherited?





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