A01: Holism and Reductionism

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  • A01: Holism and Reductionism
    • Holism
      • People and behaviour should be studied as a whole system
      • This is the view of humanistic psychology
    • Reductionism
      • Behaviour is analysed by breaking it down into constituent parts
      • This is based on the scientific principle of parsimony
      • Parsimony: all phenomena should be explained using the most basic principles
    • Levels of explanation
      • There are different ways of viewing the same phenomena in psychology
      • e.g. OCD
        • Socio-cultural level: 'odd' behaviour
        • Psychological level: obsessive thoughts
        • Physical level: repetitive hand washing
        • Physiological level: hypersensitivity of the basal ganglia
        • Neurochemical level: underproduction of serotonin
      • Each level is more reductionist than the one before
    • Biological redutionism
      • Physiological and neurochemical level
      • Behaviour can be explained through genetic and evolutionary infulences
      • This has been used in the explanation and treatment of mental illness
    • Environmental reductionism
      • Behaviour is broken up into simple stimulus-response links
      • Analysis occurs at the physical level
      • The behaviourist approach is built on environmental reductionism


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