Approaches in Psychology:


What Psychological Approach can we take to answer the question about why these people are behaving as they are?

Hi everyone, I hope that you've had a brilliant week.

Today's blog post is about the Approaches in psychology. This draws on the knowledge and explains why biological psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology and more all focus on different aspects of human behaviour.


Today's post is taken from my FREE book What is Psychology? Available from amazon, Kobo, Nook and all major ebook stores.


In psychology, there are many different approaches that people can take in order to investigate behaviour effectively.


The Biological Approach:

This approach to psychology and behaviour proposes that all behaviour is a result of biological processes.


Furthermore, this approach can be broken down into the following: The physiological approach proposed that all behaviour is linked to internal body parts. Like the brain and neurochemicals.


The nativist approach is a belief that all behaviour is inherited and passed from one generation to the next through our genes


Finally, the medical model proposes the idea that you can treat mental disorders like you would a physical disease due to the belief that every problem has a physical cause. For example, depression is caused by brain damage. (This is a fictional fact used to the demonstrate the medical model)


Biological Assumptions:

Additionally the biological approach has three basic assumptions that form the foundations for this approach to behaviour.

· Evolutionary inference- this is applying evolutionary theory by Charles Darwin in 1800s to psychology as psychologists use evolutionary Theory to explain how behaviour has changed over millions of years changed over time. Proposing that the human brain has changed because it was needed to adapt and survive.

· Localisation- we will explore this topic in more detail with the sample chapter in the next chapter, but localisation states that certain brain areas are associated with certain behaviours.

· Neurotransmitters- these are chemicals are that released by the brain in order to have certain effects on the body. For example, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for the feeling of romantic love.


For more information on Biological Psychology, please check out Biology Psychology.


The Cognitive Approach:

This approach focuses on mental processes and how they affect behaviour.


We will explore Cognitive Psychology or the cognitive approach in Chapter 4.


Cognitive psychology has a few interesting assumptions about human behaviour as well.


For example, the cognitive approach believes that the human brain is like a computer and the brain is often compared to a computer. One example of this analogy is that long-term memory is like a computer hard drive.


Another assumption that cognitive psychology has is they believe that the human mind has internal mental processes that impact our behaviour.


Personally, I think that this assumption is fairly obvious as thinking is an internal mental process and that impacts on behaviour as we can make right or wrong decisions.


Finally, the cognitive approach believes in the idea of schemas. These are mental representations or frameworks in the human mind that influence the ways we encode, store and retrieval information.


For more information on cognitive psychology, please check out Cognitive Psychology.


The Behaviourist Approach:

our next approach focuses on the human mind being a black box so there's an input and there's a behavioural output.


For instance, if I was tapped on the shoulder then this information would be sent to my brain (the input) afterwards my brain would tell me to turn around. (the output) Additionally, behaviourists believe that people behave because of life experience and it completely ignores cognitive and biological factors.


For example, a person could be rewarded for performances and behaviours or it could be punished. This life experience affects how they will behave in the future.

Another example would be that according to this approach depression would be caused by bullying only and it wouldn’t consider genetic factors or cognitive/thinking style.


Assumptions: In behaviourism, there are the following assumptions about human behaviour: humans are born like a blank slate meaning that humans learn from their environment. This assumption follows the debate that human behaviour is based on nurture; how you bring up a child; compared to our genetics.


In addition, behaviourism has the assumption that humans learn through conditioning. For example, if you are punished after being ‘naughty’ then you have been conditioned (learnt) not to behave in that way again.


Finally, the behaviourists believe that humans, as well as animals, learn in similar ways. The main reason for this is probably because behaviourists and psychologists, in general, tend to animals in their experiments. Resulting in animal behaviour being compared to human behaviour often.


This can be seen throughout the series. For instance, if Romeo (2014)’s study on oxytocin and social bonding on dogs.


Psychodynamic approach:

This approach proposes that human behaviour is as a result of the unconscious mind and emotions that are beyond our conscious awareness. For example, childhood memories that could be traumatic will influence our behaviour in the future.


Assumptions: Firstly, the psychodynamic approach believes that the events of our childhood have a massive impact on our adult life.


Personally, I think this to be true as research has shown that trauma in childhood does affect your adult life.


A personal example would be the betrayals that I faced as a child greatly affects my ability to trust others as an adult.


Secondly, the psychodynamic approach believes in the unconscious mind. In other words, Freud believed that the mind is like an iceberg because most of the mind’s working are underneath our conscious awareness.


In addition, Freud believed that the unconscious is responsible for most of our behaviour because we are driven by unconscious drives.


For example, we perform the behaviour of eating because the unconscious drive to survive and we need the energy from food to survive.


Lastly, the psychodynamic approach to behaviour proposes that the personality is made up of three parts that develop over time. For example:

· The Id develops at birth and this part of the personality is the unconscious mind that seeks to gain pleasurable no matter the cost.

· The Ego develops around the age of two years old and this part of the personality is the rational consciousness. This aspect must balance the need for pleasure and getting this pleasure in a socially acceptable way.

· The Superego develops around the age of four years old and this part encompasses the child’s sense of right, wrong as well as the ideal self. This develops through identifying with one’s parents or guardians, as well as the superego aims to civilise and perfect our behaviour.


Of course, there are issues with this approach to behaviour; like all approaches; but that is what the psychodynamic approach proposes.


The positive psychology approach:

This next approach believes that psychology should study the positive aspects of human behaviour as well as positive human qualities, so people can live more fulfilled lives. In addition, it's the belief that people want to enhance the experience of play, work and love that this approach is based on. Assumptions: Firstly, the positive approach acknowledges that humans have free will meaning that humans have a choice in their behaviour and how to act.


Whilst, this is debated in psychology. The focus of this section is to merely introduce what the approaches propose.


Secondly, the positive approach proposes that human goodness and positive emotions are authentic. I know that this wording may seem strange but in psychology, there’s a focus on the negative emotions without acknowledging the positive emotions


In other words, this assumption means that psychology needs to acknowledge that happiness and other positive emotions are as important and serve our attention as much as negative emotions.


Finally, the positive approach looks at ‘the good life’ which are a set of factors that look at what makes a human life well-lived. The findings by Seligman (2003) show that the following lives are important, and they can flow in order:

· The pleasant life- in this life positivity comes from the active purse of positive emotions in relation to the past, present and future.

· The good life- positivity is reached by pursuing activities that positively engage with us as well as absorb us.

· The meaningful life- this approach to life means that we get enjoy from fulfilling a purpose that is greater than ourselves.


Personally, for the meaningful life is writing and being an author because it means that I can write these books and hopefully serve people in their quest to understand human behaviour.


I hope that you've enjoyed the blog post and please free feel to leave a comment below and please consider signing up for my newsletter to learn about more psychology contentand to receive your FREE book.


Have a great week everyone!

Kind regards Connor.

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