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Psychological Perspectives Essay

1713 words - 7 pages

This essay will critically evaluate biological and behaviourist psychological perspectives. A psychological perspective is a theory which attempts to explain human behaviours and motivations. The Biological Approach, which came about in the 1880s, holds that human behaviour is determined by the anatomical structure of the brain. Including the chemicals produced by it and how they interact with each other. This approach is deterministic: it argues that all human behaviour is solely determined by our genetics, brain mechanisms and neurochemicals such as hormones. The Dunedin Longitudinal Study will be evaluated from this perspective. The humanistic perspective has its origins in existential philosophy. It argues that the world is ultimately meaningless and that people are free to choose their own personally worthwhile destinies (Maslow, 1943). The case study ‘Cindy’ will then be evaluated from the humanistic perspective. Lastly, there will be an evaluation of the humanistic therapy - person-centred therapy. The essay will then attempt to come to some conclusions about which approach best explains human behaviour.

Francis Galton, who was the half-cousin of Darwin, was one of the first key propagators’ of this approach. He argued that talent passes down through family lineage; i.e. genes (that genius’ are born not made). Galton does however acknowledge the benefit of education and social influences in ‘developing the active powers of the mind’ (Galton, 1869, p. 14). Noam Chomsky argued that humans are born with the foundations for understanding language and that this genetic ability was irrespective of cultural or social differences (Lyons, 1978, p. 7). This idea supports the theory of prepared learning; the idea that certain behaviours are genetically coded for ease of learning. Some of the most commonly occurring human phobias are; snakes, spiders, deep water and heights. Ridley argues that this is because of prepared learning. Genes are part of information system that collects information about the world in the past and incorporates them into good design through natural selection (Ridley, 2004).

Stereotypical male behaviour (increased aggression, violent and risk taking), could be explained by prepared learning. This would mean that the aggressive behaviour is genetically coded (the hormone testosterone) for survival purposes. As part of The Dunedin Longitudinal Study (DMHDRU, 2013), Terrie and Caspi observed that boys who had been mistreated in childhood, tended to be violent and antisocial in adulthood. Hypothesising that mistreatment alters personality (nurture). They observed 442 boys who were born during 1972-73 in Dunedin New Zealand. These boys had four white grandparents and had little difference in class or wealth, Caspi and Terrie tracked them into adulthood. 8% of the boys were severely mistreated between ages 3 and 11 and 28% probably mistreated during the same period. The result was that, many, but not all, of the mistreated boys...

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