It’s Not Just My Perspective!
I thought it may be a good idea to write a blog on the various different approaches to the study of human behaviour to give you (my awesome readers) a basic overview to the major opinions within this field and maybe a little insight into the way I think. (This may not be a good thing!)
The three main ones are Psychodynamic, Behaviourist and Humanistic. Today I am concentrating on the first two as these are the main approaches that fit best in my head. As I have mentioned before, I am no expert and just aim to offer an explanation of behaviour.
I touched slightly on the psychodynamic approach in my recent blog “What is Personality?” This perspective advocates that behaviour is determined by the drives and instincts that we were born with. It does not produce scientific evidence for its theories. This is because it proposes that the reasons we behave as we do are often in the unconscious. There is no way to accurately measure our unconscious, we can’t see it or touch it.
However, just because this approach does not generate quantitative evidence, it is not to be dismissed. Just because we can’t see it does not mean it doesn’t exist. We all know it does. We can’t see air, germs, or sound but we know they are there. We unconsciously behave in certain ways all the time. We daydream, we dream, we all suffer from Freudian slips of the tongue at some point. How many times do we say “I wasn’t thinking” as an explanation for a behaviour? The psychodynamic approach gave the subject of the unconscious status in Psychology.
That feeling of déjà vu comes from deep within your subconscious as do dreams. It is the minds way of making sense of what has happened to us that day. (Or in my case, not much sense is made!!)
The behaviourist approach formulated classical and operant conditioning. These are useful tools to get people to conform to different types of behaviour and these procedures are often used in schools, the army, prisons and institutions. This approach argues against the psychodynamics view of the unconscious and suggests that drives and instincts do not scientifically exist.
A behaviourist’s perspective advocates that everybody is born as a blank canvas (tabla rossa). They propose that all behaviour is learnt from the environment after birth and we are like we are because of learning experiences. Aggression and sexual desire has been extensively investigated by this approach, as has showing love and other emotions. We have been taught this behaviour.
A nice homely upbringing, which is lavished with love and happiness, normally determines that the choices of that life will be of a similar nature. When that loving and happy childhood is not available though, it can be expected that the choices made in later life will be quite the opposite; a home that is loveless and full of neglect will usually be replicated by a next generation.
But can an emotion be taught or is it biological? This approach suggests the former. According to behaviourist’s, people are more prone to violence than others because aggression is the main fuel in their environment. There have been hundreds of studies and research carried out attempting to link a cause between violent computer games and aggression. This is yet to be established but I can understand why psychologists are eager to find that connection.
I see logic in each of these arguments. I find it hard to sway towards one more than the other, so I choose to follow both, even though they both stand for very different opinions. I hope you may now recognise these major approaches in past and future blogs.