Psychoanalytic and Behaviourist Schools

Behaviourism was considered to be founded by Watson in the early1900’s. Watson as a psychologist looked at other methods of psychological research examples such as the method of introspection developed by Wundt. Watson looked at structuralism and functionalism and felt that the results were not accurate as they only applied to a single person and were not applicable as general theories. Watson had strong beliefs that psychological research should only take place if there was physical evidence to back up the theory. The Russian psychologist Pavlov who was mainly known for his work with dogs influenced Watson.

Watson was the first person to use humans in scientific psychological experiments. Watson decided to study the mind and behaviour of babies as they are considered closest to animals in their reactions making it easier to carry out experiments on what was considered “a bundle of reflex actions”. Watson’s theory stated the beliefs that the findings from experiments on animals and babies were not only true and accurate but they could also set trends that would explain aspects of the more complex adult personality.

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Through Watson’s experiments on babies he found that conditioning could take place in humans as well as in animals as previously shown Pavlov. Watson soon realised from a young age aspects of the human personality could be conditioned such as fear, love and aggression. This conditioning through associating a loud noise (the unconditioned stimuli), which upsets and scares the child, with an object or animal causing crying etc. (Unconditioned response) proved too be very successful although morally and ethically incorrect.

Behaviourism delivered results yet it still had many faults. There was a very small amount actual involved in the behaviourist approach as the human brain was not addressed leaving no proof of the reasons conditioning occurred. A: Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalytic conception of human behaviour. This development took place at the same time that behaviourist theories were being developed in the United States.

Freud’s beliefs that the impulses that are forbidden or punished by parents or society during childhood are derived from innate instincts that all babies are born with. Due to the fact that all of us are born with these impulses, they exert a pervasive influence that must be dealt with in some manner. The repression of these impulses is said to force them out of awareness and into the subconscious.

These repressed impulses do not disappear and Freud’s theory states that they manifest themselves as emotional problems, symptoms of mental illness, or socially approved behaviour of artistic or literary activity. An example Freud’s theory would be if a person with feelings of anger towards someone else could not afford to alienate that person their feelings may be expressed in a dream about that person. Freud’s theory stated that animal instincts mainly sex and aggression drive us.

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