The Behaviorist, Psychodynamic and Humanistic Contributions to Psychology

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 actual speech.
However studies have been carried out and it has been found that
people can still think even when their vocal chords are paralyzed.

Behaviorists make the assumption that in humans; virtually all
behaviors are caused by learned relationships between a stimulus that
excites the sense organs and a response which is the reaction to the

John Watson was strongly influenced by the work of Pavlov on classical
conditioning. Pavlov trained dogs to salivate whenever he rang a
bell. An unconditioned Stimulus (the bell) leads to an unconditioned
Response (salivation). When the unconditioned stimulus is paired with
another Stimulus (food), this stimulus will eventually produce the
response on its own and is then called the conditioned stimulus which
produces a Conditioned response. Behaviorists propose that phobias
come about in a similar way, for example, somebody who is
spider-phobic, might have learned to be scar...

... middle of paper ...


This essay has evaluated the assumptions and contributions of the
behaviourist, psychodynamic and humanistic approaches to psychology.
The behaviourist approach focuses on the behaviour of people and seeks
to explain behaviour as being learnt. The psychodynamic and humanist
approaches are more concerned with the emotional aspects of people’s
lives rather than their behaviour. The psychodynamic approach places
importance on childhood experience. The humanist approach places more
emphasis on the importance of our self image.


Basic Psychology by Henry Gleitman (First Edition)

Psychology, third edition by Cardwell, Clark and Meldrum

Psychology – A New Introduction by Richard Gross, Rob McIlveen, Hugh
Coolicun, Alan Clamp and Julia Russell (Twelfth Edition)

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