Behaviorism takes on a neutered approach to how ones behaviour is learned and observed. The first key basic assumption of the behaviourist approach is that one’s behaviour is learned through their environment; as an individual is born with a blank slate (Tabula Rasa). This is carried out through two types of conditioning: classical and Operant. Classical Conditioning is learning a behaviour through the process of association.
For example, phobias can begin once an individual has encountered a negative experience, creating fear. If an individual had experienced a car crash , that individual might experience a fear of driving. The fear is the conditioned response.(Cherry, 2017) The other type of conditioning is Operant.
This is where learning is controlled by consequences through positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment. Another basic assumption of the Behaviourist Approach is the concern with the observation of behaviour. Behaviourist only deem it important to study by observing what can be objectively and scientifically measured.
Making the evidence empirical. Furthermore, Behaviorists also believe all behaviour can be reduced to ‘simple stimulus association’. The environmental factors being the stimuli, and the observable behaviour being the response.
(McLeod, 2008)Behaviourist believe one’s actions are solely representative of what they experience in life. Their approach to abnormal behaviour otherwise known as psychopathology, is that psychological disorders are the consequence of maladaptive learning (not adjusting to the environment.) They suggest that abnormal behaviour is learned from the environment as one is born tabula rasa, and that whilst behaviour is learned, it can also be unlearnt. Classical Conditioning is said to account for the cause of phobias. When fear of an object is there from the past (a conditioned stimulus), for example, a snake, it causes fear and anxiety. When encountering that object in the future, it can cause a feared response (phobia).
The environment one learns in can also reinforce problematic behaviours, through Operant Conditioning. For example, If somebody is having a panic attack, and people rush to their aid, being rewarded by the comfort of the surrounding people, will reinforce and potentially increase that behaviour later in life. (McLeod, 2008)Behaviourism is very much a reductionist approach. Reductionism within the behaviourist approach, demonstrates all behaviours in relation to conditioning, whilst diminishing abnormal behaviour or psychopathology down to a most minimal level. This being through learned association and reinforcement. The fault being abnormal behavior can be more complicated than this, not taking into consideration the cognitive processes associated with abnormal behaviour, dismissing the impact mental processes (biological factors) have on one’s behaviour.
Although the model lends itself to scientific proof, research has not always supported its claims, for example, conditioning theories for phobias cannot explain why many people are not able to identify something in their life which led to a traumatic conditioning, or recall any contact with the feared object. (Pheasey, 2014, ) An example of this is the Little Albert Study, which reduced Alberts phobia of a rat and rabbit down to stimulus and response.The Psychoanalytic approach’ main assumption is that one’s behaviour is greatly influenced by their unconscious drive. Following this Freud stated that ‘the unconscious mind is the primary root of behaviour.’ (1915) According to Freud, the most important part of the mind is the part you cannot see, like an iceberg.
‘ (1915) A more detailed explanation of these components are explained in his ‘Iceberg Analogy’. The Psychoanalytic approach is commonly recognised through Freud’s theory of Psychosexual development. Within this theory he suggests that an individual’s formed personality is subject to 6 different age dependent stages throughout childhood, and within these stages is where the Id, Ego and Superego are formed. Freud explained through his theory of the psyche how one’s personality is complex, and therefore structured through 3 different components. These are known as The Id (instincts), The Ego (reality) and The Superego (morality). The Psychoanalytic approach combines nature and nurture. An individual is born with innate tendencies to progress through the 6 stages of development, meeting freud’s criteria as one progresses, but also ones external factors, such as parents, impact their development through these stages. The 6 stages of development according to the Psychoanalytic theory, is what shapes one’s personality as an adult and how childhood events can remain in the unconscious and lead to future problems or abnormal behaviour such as anxiety and OCD.
The Psychoanalytic approach to abnormal behaviour is reinforced by Freud’s theory of Psychoanalysis. This was his idea that one’s abnormal behaviour could be cured through making conscious their unconscious thoughts, therefore gaining understanding. Freud says the the id, the Ego and the superego are all contributing factors to causing abnormal behaviour. He suggests if the ego is too weak, it allows the Id and Superego to take control.
If the Id is too strong it can cause destructive and an immoral behaviour, causing mental disorders in childhood and psychopathic behaviour later in life. And if the Superego is too dominant, will deprive the Id furthermore, depriving an individual of social pleasure. This can lead to anxiety disorders, depression or phobias. (psyteacher, 2017) Ego defence mechanisms are what unconsciously protect itself from anxiety (caused by Id too strong and Superego too dominant). An example of this is regression, this is where one regresses to childhood behaviour (throwing tantrums) as a coping mechanism for anxiety. (Cherry, 2017)This approach is very much deterministic, an example being that Freud suggests the suffering in childhood causing trauma, leads to abnormal behaviour in the future as an adult. This is due to him arguing that one’s actions and thoughts are determined and controlled by the unconscious. Although Freud’s psychoanalysis therapy has been successful in treating abnormal behavior, due to it being based on his personality theory, there are flaws in the approach as it lacks supporting evidence.
He also does not take into consideration the biological influences such as genes and the cognitive approach of thinking patterns. The Humanistic Approach believes in studying the person as a whole (holism) and as a unique individual. Another term for Humanism is phenomenology, this term is used to describe an individual’s personality being studied from their subjective experience through their personal viewpoint. This leads to the holistic theory of individuals having free will when deciding how to behave, abeling them through Rogers eyes to be seen as ‘the self’ and not the subject/stimulus meaning, It is not reductionist. The term free will is also known as ‘personal agency’ referring to the choices one makes, and the consequences of the paths individuals go down. (McLeod, 2015) Humanists suggests that one is good, but also has innate needs to do good for themselves and others.
Furthermore, Humanism strongly focus’ the importance of the individuals worth, growth, human values and creativity. Psychologists Rogers (1959) and Abraham Maslow (1943) both reinforced these needs for personal growth, fulfillment and satisfaction by reinstating the needs through psychological growth to enhance one’s self. This is otherwise known as self actualization. Despite Maslow and Roger agreeing the importance of self actualization, their theories differed in how to achieve this.Unlike the focus on psychopathology; what goes wrong, Maslow(1943) wanted to put his focus on motivating the positive behaviour, and what goes right. He did this through his Hierarchy theory stating in order to gain self actualization there is a five stage hierarchy of needs to motivate an individuals behaviour. The pyramid started with Basic needs, more specifically survival and physiological needs such as water, food and warmth. Maslow believed these can motivate one’s behavior and once fulfilled, an individual could move up to the next set of needs;Psychological needs, such as esteem, love and belongingness needs.
Concluding with the final need being self actualization otherwise known as one’s fullest potential. Maslow also believed that although one should progress up the pyramid, situations can arise such as the loss of a loved one, that would lead to regression down the pyramid. However he does state that a person is never static, and therefore is becoming. And his main aim within reaching self actualization is that all individuals will find important meaning to their life. (Maslow, 1962)Humanism takes great focus on the alternative approach to scientific psychology. The Ethnocentrism within this approach focus’ on individuals having free will when choosing behaviour. Putting the individuals experience at the center of the study, allowing them to be seen as an active agent; promoting personal responsibility.
However, The humanistic approach assumes that one is good and has innate needs to do good by others and chose positive paths however, free will for some individuals is limited. This approach does not take into account genetics and inherited behaviour that can be passed down. Furthermore, the emphasis on the subjective experience, and the lack of objective methods used within his approach makes it very difficult to study, and as a result of the non scientific study, means this approach is hard to falsify and lacks empirical evidence. Humanist suggested the rejection for scientific methodology was due to not being able to find out in depth the individual’s thoughts and feelings, and instead they believed Client Centered Therapy was the way to uncover one’s experiences and feelings.