The aim of this report is to explain and evaluate five main theories in psychology.
Since psychology was developed and used in human sciences, there have been five major theories used, to attempt to explain both human and animal behaviours These theories are; Psychodynamic, Behaviourism, Cognitive, Humanistic and Biology.
The psychodynamic approach was developed by Freud, who identified a new way of looking at the human mind or psyche. Freud suggested the psyche is divided into three different parts. These parts develop over the first 5 years of life, which is why, for Freud, early childhood is the most important stage in human life, it is the stage when our psyche forms and it shapes everything we think and do for the rest of our lives. The ID is the most basic part of the psyche, the part that develops first in babies. It consists of urges and desires. The ego is the second part of the psyche that develops in toddlers. It is the thinking, decision-making part of the mind. It is based on “the reality principle” because it understands the outside world, the consequences of actions and the passage of time. The final part of the psyche to develop is the super-ego which forms between the ages of 4 and 6. The super-ego straddles the conscious and the unconscious mind. It acts as “the voice of conscience”(PSYCHOLOGY WIZARD, 2018).
As adults, our ego is constantly in the middle of conflict between the demands of the ID and restrictions of The Ego. This is solved by setting up defence mechanisms to protect itself, these restrict the Id’s demands or transforms them so the superego is not offended.
Some defences are Repression: the Id’s demands can be repressed back into the unconscious mind. Denial: the Id’s feelings and urges are acted upon, but the conscious mind refuses to admit what they are. Projection: the id’s feelings are denied and the super-ego’s hostility is directed towards others.
The Psychodynamic theory takes into consideration both sides of the nature verses nurture argument and has been one of the factors for the implementation of talking therapies in Mental Health. This theory places a lot of importance on one’s mind and does not consider that genetic or biological factors can influence mental health. This study has simplified the human mind which as researchers are continually discovering is not the case.
Behaviourist believe there are three main ways that animals and humans learn they are classical conditioning, operant conditioning and social learning theory. Classical conditioning ” Classical conditioning is a form of learning whereby a conditioned stimulus (CS) becomes associated with an unrelated unconditioned stimulus (US) to produce a behavioural response known as a conditioned response (CR). The conditioned response is the learned response to the previously neutral stimulus. The unconditioned stimulus is usually a biologically significant stimulus such as food or pain that elicits an unconditioned response (UR) from the start. The conditioned stimulus is usually neutral and produces no response at first, but after conditioning, it elicits the conditioned response” (lumenlearning, n.d). A child is bitten by a dog, due to this even as the child grows into adulthood there remains a fear of dogs.
Operant conditioning is the method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behaviour. Through operant conditioning, an individual makes an association between a particular behaviour and a consequence. Operant conditioning can have either a positive or negative effect on people (McLeod, 2018). An example of positive conditioning can be seen in a mental health patient who continues their treatment plan when discharged from the hospital in the attempt to be healthy and avoid hospital admissions. A negative example can be that a child returns home late without informing their parents they would and their electronic devices are taken away for a week this is described as negative reinforcement.
The cognitive theory in psychology focuses on how humans process information. This theory was introduced in 1967 by Ulric Neisser. It studies how information received is processed and how this information is analysed and the response it triggers. This theory is interested is in what is occurring in the mind and the link between stimulus (input) and response (output). This theory has been influenced by computer science and comparisons are frequently made between how the mind processes information and how a computer works.
Theoretical and computer models are proposed to attempt to explain and infer information about mental processes. For example, the Information-Processing Model describes the mind as a computer, in terms of the relationship between incoming information to be encoded (from the senses), manipulating this mentally (e.g. storage, a decision), and consequently directing an output (e.g. a behaviour, emotion). An example might be an artist looking at a scenic landscape, deciding which paint colour suits a given area, before brushing the selected colour onto a canvas.
Strengths of cognitive psychology are that this approach is studied using a scientific approach. Using laboratories to conduct experiments in a highly controlled atmosphere, so that researchers can establish cause and effect. A weakness of the cognitive approach relates to the validity of measuring cognitive processes. We can only infer what a person is thinking and therefore the cognitive approach relies heavily on self-report measures and observation (Holah.co.uk, 2018).
The humanistic approach in psychology was developed in the 1960s by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, they developed this theory in response to the arguments between behavioural theorists and cognitive psychologists. Rogers believed that humans have one basic need and that is to become their true self, which is achieved when all their dreams, goals and wishes have become reality. However, to become your true self one needs to be open to experiences and accept both positive and negative emotions. Existential living being in touch with the different experiences as they happen in life, avoid preconceptions and prejudging while living life in the moment as it happens. Trusting their feelings, gut-reactions and their own instincts are observed, trusted and paid attention to. Creativity, risk-taking and creative thinking are characters of one’s life. The ability to change, adjust and look for new experiences in life. Fulfilled life the person is satisfied and happy in life continually seeking out new challenges and experiences (McLeod, 2014).
Maslow created a structured plan which attempted to explain human motivation while defining the steps he believed humans need to take to self-actualisation. This was to become his Hierarchy of Needs this is often drawn as a pyramid. This pyramid places basic humans’ needs at the bottom the other essential needs for a fulfilled life in groups ascending upwards.
This pyramid is split into two distinct sections the beginning of the pyramid consists of four making up the deficiency needs. He also stated that each of these basic needs must be met before a person is able to attain greater intellectual satisfaction through their growth needs which are placed at the top of the pyramid. Deficiency needs are simple and include physiological necessitates (food, water and sleep), the need to feel safe, love, belonging and self-esteem. Growth needs are cognitive (knowing and understanding, Aesthetics, Self-actualisation and Self-transcendence. Maslow proposed that each one of us has an individual purpose to which we are suited. Finding and identifying this path means that their life is fulfilled. If this does not happen then life can seem confusing and meaningless (Collin et al., 2015).
This theory is the only one that places humans at the centre of treatment, meaning they are more than biological illnesses and they are not viewed as irrational in their behaviours. This has led to client centred therapy being developed and practised today by psychologist and counsellors. However, this approach may be too positive towards human behaviour assuming that humans are naturally good and choose to live positive lives. Not realising that free will can be limited for certain individuals, it also refuses to acknowledge that certain mental illnesses are in fact based on biology.
The biological approach may well the only theory in psychology that studies the brain, the nervous and immune systems and genetics. These studies are carried on both humans and animals to understand their behaviours are influenced by biological and environmental factors. Charles Darwin was one of the first researchers to say that genetics and evolution contribute to human personality.
Genetic research has shown that there is a genetic predisposition for a person to develop schizophrenia. This research studied DNA from human families affected by schizophrenia and found that those with the disease were more likely to have a defective version of a gene, called PPP3CC which is associated with the production of calcineurin which regulates the immune system (Johnson, 2017).
Biochemicals affect the brain in the study of persons with schizophrenia it has been shown that their brains produce too much dopamine which causes neurons to produce dopamine often and transmit too many messages. Which may lead to delusions, confused thinking and hallucinations resulting in acute episodes.
Researchers have used MRIs to acquire images of brain structures from MZ twins in which one was schizophrenic. The schizophrenic twin generally had more enlarged ventricles and a reduced anterior hypothalamus. The differences were so huge the schizophrenic twins could be effortlessly recognised from the brain images in 12 out of 15 pairs (Johnson, 2017).