Aspects of human behavior Essay

Aspects of human behavior Essay.

There are some aspects of human behavior and mental processes that would not be ethical to study even if the participants freely consented to be studied. Ethical standards with regard to experimentation are subject to governmental regulations where federal funding is apparent (Kornblum, pg. 41). The text lists 5 key ethical issues revolving around human psychological research, including: Freedom from coercion, informed consent, limited deception, adequate debriefing, and confidentiality (Lahay, pg. 48). According to Lahay, requirements for institutions conducting research include approval from a board of outside scientists (pg.

48). I believe there are certain aspects of behavior and mental processes that should not be studied even with the participant’s approval. Study of subjects that were involved with committing crimes would be at the top of the list. For example, a study involving naturalistic observation of a kleptomaniac in action seems to me as unethical practice. While the observer is not taking part in the crime, he is not actively preventing it either. Furthermore, there may be a possibility that the said criminal’s need to steal is heightened due to the researcher’s requirement for consent.

Another example of studying behavior or mental processes that may present itself unethical might involve studying children. Even though parental consent may be given the child would not necessarily have to be informed of the study. An example might be a study where a badly behaved child is seated next to a compliant child to see if the behaviors change. Regardless of the effect on the badly behaved child, the compliant child could quite possibly experience higher levels of stress or anxiety. I think that good example of not ethical experiment would be “little Albert.” John Watson, the founder of behaviorism, conducted an influential early study of generalization. Watson and Rosaline Rayner examined the generalization of condition fear in an 11 month old boy Albert. Like many babies Albert was initially unafraid of a white rat. Then the Watson and Rayner paired the presentation of the rat with a loud, starting sound. Albert did show fear in response the loud noise.

Five days later, boy was exposed to other stimulus that resembled the rat in being white and furry. Albert’s fear response to other white, furry objects (rabbits, a dog). My opinion is that children should not be used in research. Another type of experiments, that I think are unethical, are Near-death experience – is the perception reported by a person who nearly died or who was clinically dead and revived. They are somewhat common, especially since the development of cardiac resuscitatation techniques. For example, in one, a woman accurately described a surgical instrument she had not seen previously, as well as conversation that occurred while she was clinically dead. I think that death or dieing is something that we as a human should not be involved in.

Aspects of human behavior Essay

Compare and contrast two approaches Essay

Compare and contrast two approaches Essay.

Psychology is a huge science area with many variations on approach. Over many years Psychologists such as Freud, Skinner, Rogers and Watson, just to name a few, have contributed, providing us with invaluable tools to evaluate and treat mental illness, understand and treat phobias and indeed provide us with a window into the unconscious mind.

In particular, two areas of study have intrigued me, so I believe it would be useful to compare and contrast these two very different approaches. Not only will I compare the methods of research used but also will note any similarities or differences they may have and indeed the strengths and weaknesses of each approach.

My chosen approaches to evaluate are Behaviourist V Psychoanalytic.

In 1913 John Watson published ‘ Psychology as the behaviourist view it’, in it he outlined his new ideas. These ideas were considered ‘new’ because Watson disagreed with Freud’s view of human behaviour; he dismissed it as ‘ philosophical to the point of mysticism’ (Watson 1913, citied by Christopher D.

Green, York University). Watson also dismissed heredity as an important factor in human behaviour shaping. Watson stated that ‘The traditional methods of animal psychology are indeed the true method of scientific psychology’. (Watson 1913, citied by Christopher D. Green, York University). In this article Watson said

‘ The time seems to have come when psychology must discard all reference to consciousness; when it need no longer delude itself into thinking that it is making mental states the object of observation ‘ (‘Psychology as the behaviourist views it’ John Watson, Psychological review, 1913}. By saying this Watson meant that Freud and other Psychoanalysts could not prove their theories and therefore were not scientific. Also they studied abnormal patients (mental patients) so therefore they could not have a true picture.

This publication did in fact establish ‘a new school of psychology, the School of Behaviourism’. The essential theories, which stand Watson out from the rest, are that he believed psychologists should look to the relationship between the environment and the behaviour, rather than the presumed contents of the consciousness. The principles that govern behaviour in animals and in humans are virtually identical.

Watson’s aim was to predict and control behaviour. He was able to provide evidence to his theories unlike other unreliable and unverifiable conscious experience studies.

A behaviourist believes that the environment motivates behaviour and that a stimulus will create a response, therefore, ‘humans are merely passive respondents.’ This approach rejects the unconscious mind and believes that only behaviour that can be observed should be studied. There are three main areas of study Classical conditioning (Pavlov), Operant conditioning (Skinner) and Observational learning (Bandura). Classical conditioning uses a stimulus response, Pavlov when experimenting with the dog and salivation, conditioned the dog to know when a treat was inevitable by using a bell as the stimulus.

He proved that the dog would salivate at the mere thought of food and therefore his learning was by association. In the Skinner experiment he used positive and negative reinforcement as forms of rewards or punishments, this was called Operant conditioning. Finally when using Observational learning (Bandura 1960) its proven to be far more scientific using laboratory for studies and experiments. This seems to be a far more objective approach.

The behaviourist approach has a more scientific and objective view and provides a counter argument to the nature theory. By using a few basic principles, behaviourism can explain many characteristics in both human and animal behaviours and has many practical applications. However, on a more negative note it can be said that behaviourism rejects the conscious mental experiences and assumes that individuals are not responsible for their own actions. In addition it over simplifies the explanations for behaviour and experiences.

The psychoanalytic approach was started and mainly developed by Sigmund Freud. He became interested in hysteria and was convinced that unconscious mental causes were responsible for all disorders and even ‘normal’ personalities. Freud’s approach and theory were greatly influenced by the technology of the time (locomotives) along with the work of hypnotist Charcot. Whilst talking to Charcot, Freud realized how talking about traumatic experiences relieved the symptoms of hysteria. He also made a connection between the role of sex and hysterical behaviour. Freud saw sex as a potential cause of emotional stress. Another great influence was Breuer who pioneered cathartic therapy. This therapy was known as the ‘Talking cure’.

Freud’s major technique was free association, were a patient would be encouraged to relax and express a free flow of thoughts entering their mind. Another popular therapy of Freud’s was Dream analysis where he would attempt to decode the symbols of a dream. His approach had a huge impact on psychology and psychiatry. Freud’s theory was developed further by Jung, Adler and Anna Freud (his daughter)

The Psychoanalyst believed that behaviour was influenced mainly by a part of the mind which we have no awareness of; this was called the Unconscious process. They also believed in Psychic determinism, which dictates whatever we say or do has a cause. Hydraulic drives were believed to create psychic energy which if not released would create tension and anxiety. The two basic drives, which this refers to, are the Sex drive and the aggressive drive. Apparently according to Freud, different parts of the unconscious mind were in constant struggle with each other called the Psychodynamic conflict.. He along with others believed that the personality was shaped as we entered different stages of development.

It has become apparent that the only similarity between these two approaches is that both Watson and Freud believed their theory could explain all concepts of human behaviour. They allowed no room for any other explanation. This in its self has causes doubt for both sides of the argument. It is obvious to the reader that there a very few similarities between these approaches, however it seems that both the pioneers solely thought their way was the only way. Both these men used their own theories to explain the same topics, such as: moral development, Aggression and Abnormalities.

There are strengths and weakness to all arguments and this one is no exception. Freud’s ideas made a large impact on psychology; however, his theories had little experimental support except on repression and fixation. The psychoanalytic approach has huge explanatory of power on a variety of subjects. His methods were regarded as ‘unscientific’ and incapable of being proved wrong. Many experiments carried out using this theory have failed to support Freud. Psychoanalyst therapy has been widely criticised.

Behaviourism was scientific and experimental and left a lasting effect on its subjects. It also provides a strong counter argument on the nature rather than nurture argument. Using simple principles, behaviourism can explain a great variety of phenomena and has many practical implications.

So what, if any gain has been made by society by these theories?

Far more has been gained from the Behaviour theories than that of the psychoanalyst. This is mainly due to the practical implications applied in today’s terms. The behaviourist approach has produced many practical implications such as education (programmed learning) also the treatment of those with behavioural disturbances such as phobias and behaviour shaping in autism. The Operant conditioning principles are used to train animals to do tasks. This approach has also been used in advertising and in child rearing. The only gain I can acknowledge from Freud and his theories is that of a therapy to help treat mental disorders. I find little evidence, however, that this theory actually works or indeed if the principles explain everything, I find it difficult to find any outcome in this theory. I find the Freudian theory (Psychoanalytic) to be inadequate and non scientific.

The behaviourist view seems to be a far more objective approach. It has a more scientific and objective view and provides a counter argument to the nature theory. By using a few basic principles, behaviourism can explain many characteristics in both human and animal behaviours and has many practical applications. However, on a more negative note it can be said that behaviourism rejects the conscious mental experiences and assumes that individuals are not responsible for their own actions. In addition it over simplifies the explanations for behaviour and experiences.


Watson, J.B, (1913) Psychology as the behaviour views it. Psychological Review, 20, 158-177

Thomas, R.K. (1997) American journal of psychology, 110, 115-125

Watson J.B (1914). Behaviour: An introduction to Comparative Psychology. New York: Holt.

Tony Malim & Ann Birch ‘Introduction to Psychology’ (1998)

Graham Hill ‘Psychology through Diagrams’ (1998)

Compare and contrast two approaches Essay

John Broadus Watson: Theory of Behaviorism Essay

John Broadus Watson: Theory of Behaviorism Essay.

Behaviorism is the theoretical concept which deals with an explicit behavioral science. It describes the viewpoint of science, a mind philosophy, a pragmatic theory, and principles. These thoughts and theories devised by studying behavior of living creatures (Zuriff, 1985). The vital principles of behaviorism are that scientific psychology must center on the correlation between environmental contingencies and behavior rather than on the supposed contents of consciousness and secondly the principles which govern behavior of humans and other animals are basically indistinguishable (O’Donnell, 1985).

This paper explains the theory of behaviorism developed by John Broadus Watson and contribution of other behaviorists in hardening the concept of behaviorism. John Broadus Watson, influential figure in the field of psychology, formed the psychological school of behaviorism through extensive research on animal behavior. He is popular among psychology students for by using effective behavioral practices. Behaviorism in psychology is an entirely objective experimental field of natural science.

The main theoretical aspect of behaviorism is to foresee and direct of behavior.

Mainly Watson pioneered the phrase Behaviorism to study human psychology as a base of his experimentation. The behaviorism theory focuses on the studying overt behaviors which can be easily observed and measured (Hothersal, 2004). In theoretical framework, stimulus response can be observed and measured quantitatively. Behaviorist theory was developed by numerous psychologists such as Pavlov, Watson, Thorndike, Kline, Angell, Mary Calkins,Yerkes and Skinner.

The behaviorist attempted to devise common method of animal response. They did not differentiate between man and animal. The complex human behavior and its refinement is only a part of the behaviorist’s scheme of research. To study behavior in depth, sometimes behaviorists turned to scientists whose prime focus is their experimental research and hypothesizing (Zuriff, 1985). The expansion of behaviorist approach is often depicted as an uprising process.

In 1913, when John Broadus Watson showed his famous “behaviorist manifesto,” psychology was the science of mind, the central observable fact of mind were consciousness and the method of preference for the scrutiny of consciousness was introspection by a qualified viewer under controlled conditions (Watson, 1913). The study of human and animal behavior through entirely objective methods under conditions of experimental operation and control of stimulus conditions were traditional.

Watson professed between the objective nature of available behavioral methods and the then widespread beliefs of a thoughtful psychology defined as the science of consciousness. Another psychologist, Angell researched behaviorism and his comprehensive writing on behaviorism emerged in 1913 in an article named “Behavior as a Category of Psychology”. He always preferred objective experimental work instead of the introspective method or to deal with problems of consciousness, but he recommended sturdily against neglecting consciousness completely from the science.

According to him, person must be watchful in order to look for superior ways of understanding human nature. He stressed that theory and practice of mental life might be explained in terms of objective behavior. Angell changed his views in later years. In 1936, after twenty years of behaviorist work in psychology, he wrote exclusive methods, like Watsonian behaviorism, simply supplicate the question and tacitly guess data which without introspective processes performed by their precursors would be paralyzed and completely sterile.

Angell gave importance to methodological process and to realistic knowledge of both human and animal life. During 1938, conventional psychology was the science which concentrated not of mind but of behavior, the central fact of behavior were those of learning and memory and the methods of choice for the study of leaning and memory involved purely objective observations of behavioral data changeable as a function of the experimental manipulation of stimulus conditions (Woodworth, 1938).

Critically opposing the Structuralism philosophical foundation of introspection, behaviorism grew out of a competing Functionalist viewpoint of psychology. Dewey and William James were the leading promoters. Against structuralism reification of the content of knowledge, Dewey advised that sensations be given a functional characterization, and proposed to treat them as functionally defined inhabitants of roles in the reflex arc which since it symbolized both the unit of nerve structure and the type of nerve function should supply the combined principle and controlling working hypothesis in psychology (Dewey 1896, Pg: 357).

Though the arc, Dewey claimed, is misinterpreted if not viewed in broader organic-adaptive framework. On another hand against structuralism reification of the subject of experience, William James maintained that consciousness when once it has disappeared to this estate of pure diaphaneity is on the point of failing overall. The James-Lange theory of emotions explained that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion (James 1884, Pg: 189-190).

Bertrand Russell, the first philosophers who identified the theoretical connotation of the behaviorist development which Watson proposed. Russell declared that behaviorism contains much more truth than people supposed and observed it as desirable to develop the behaviorist method to the full potential level (Russell 1927, pg: 73). He proposed a relation between behaviorism and scientific methodical philosophy of mind. Many psychologists did not accept introspection and interpretation in terms of consciousness.

Watson had called for just such a transformation. Watson was not the only significant contributor to this revolution of behaviorism. Kline, famous psychologist decided to deal with the problem of animal behavior method. Kline built numerous laboratory apparatus for the study of the behavior of vorticella, wasps, chicks, and white rats under the supreme guidance of Sanford. Certainly, one of these apparatus, designed with the support of Small, approximated a simple Y-maze.

Kline disapproved Thorndike’s over dependence on a solely experimental method, squabbled for a amalgamation of the naturalistic and experimental methods and explained the results of his own laboratory research, concluding that “the methods presented here enable us in a comparatively short time to point out more distinctly the dividing lines between instinct, intelligence, and habit. ” (Kline, 1899, Pg: 279) While describing theory of behaviorism, Yerkes’ attitude of behaviorist approach has great significance. After Watson, Robert Mearns Yerkes was perhaps the most prominent supporter of an objective approach to the study of animal behavior.

John Broadus Watson: Theory of Behaviorism Essay