Holism and reductionism - Issues and debates

  • Created by: Georgia
  • Created on: 03-03-19 21:22
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  • Holism and reductionism to explaining behaviour
    • Holism   Looks at the whole theory; detailed to check for cause and effect
    • Reductionism Reduces and simplifies a theory into its smaller parts; simplest and easiest explanation
    • Biological reductionism Explains behaviour using biological systems; ignores every other influence
      • 4 most reductionist levels of explanation Genetics; physiology; cellular biology; biochemistry
      • (A) Simple, precise, scientific, easily tested, can generate     treatment    (D) Too simplistic, incomplete
    • Environmental reductionism Behaviour comes from stimulus-response (behaviourist)
      • (A) Easily tested, occam's razor (D) Seen as too simple, doesn't explain complex behaviour
    • Reductionism   strengths Scientific (lab, standardised, C+E); easy to test (breaks down complex theories); breaking down allows treatment (e.g. activating event in depression, use CBT)
    • Reductionism limitations Oversimplified (can't explain complex behaviour); lacks detail so less valuable/ valid (doesn't explain why)
    • Insight learning Learning and experience used to solve a situation; every part is used and looked at as a whole
      • Research Kohler (1925) Insight learning with chimpanzees Looking at individual jigsaw pieces won't solve it; looking at whole picture will
    • Holism strengths More complete picture; takes complexity of behaviour into account; looks at the reason why a behaviour occurs
    • Holism limitations Tends to ignore biology; very hypothetical
    • Interactionism example Attachment theories; looks at an individual or a small group; generalises to everyone


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