The Behaviorist, Psychodynamic and Humanistic Contributions to Psychology

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This essay will in turn look at the behaviorist, Psychodynamic, and Humanistic approaches to Psychology. It will evaluate the assumptions and contributions for each approach.

Behaviorists emphasize the relationship between the environment surrounding a person and how it affects a person’s behavior. They are primarily concerned with observable behavior, as opposed to internal events like thinking and emotion. This is a criticism of the behaviorist approach; it is seen as mechanistic and oversimplified, because it ignores mental processes or reinterprets them as just types of behavior. John Watson saw emotions as the secretion of glands and thinking as the movement of our vocal chords without
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Another influential behaviorist was Skinner. He investigated operant conditioning, the learning process where rewarding a response leads to learning. Skinner put animals in a controlled environment known as the “Skinner box”. He found that he was able to train rats to press a lever or pigeons to peck a certain spot if he rewarded them for doing so with food. The stimulus strengthened the response, making it more likely to happen again. Skinner also found that punishment such as electric shocks weakened the response.

A major contribution is “behavior therapy”, a group of therapeutic techniques based on the idea that abnormal behavior comes about through conditioning and can be removed in the same way. Desensitization therapy is based on classical conditioning. It gradually reduces the bond between the conditioned stimulus and the response might be shown a picture of a spider, next they would be shown a small spider in a tank, then a larger spider and so on until able to relax. Behaviour modification uses operant conditioning, rewarding people for positive behaviour to encourage them to behave that way more often.

The behaviourist approach has been criticised for being over-reliant on animal research. It is unknown to what extent findings from
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