PSYB4 - Debates

Summaries the debates done for classwork, but helps with revision

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Holism Vs Reductionism
Emphasis on the whole person.
Gestalt Psychology
Interactionist Approach.
Holism ­ Introduction
Human behaviour is complex.
It should be looked at as a whole rather than in parts.
Holism ­ Gestalt psychology
Gestalt ­ German, meaning `whole configuration'.
"The whole of behaviour and experience is more than the sum of its parts".
Kohler (1925) demonstrated insight learning in chimpanzees.
Holism ­ Interactionist Approach
Explains human behaviour in terms of links or interactions between different levels of explanations.
Takes biological, psychological, social, etc factors into account to build a better understanding.
Holism ­ Strengths
Provides a complete picture.
Does not ignore the complexity of behaviour.
The person is seen as an entity to be considered in its own right.
Seeks to integrate different components in order to understand the person as a whole.
Holism ­ Limitations
Does not lend itself to scientific inquiry and empirical testing.
Tends to neglect the importance of biological explanations specifically the role of genes.
More hypothetical than lower-level reductionist explanations and theories lack the predictive power of a
scientific explanation.
Breaking down complex issues into simpler parts
Biological Reductionism.
Hierarchy of sciences.
Reductionism ­ Introduction
Complex phenomena can be explained by breaking them down into separate simpler components.
Reductionism ­ Biological
Attempts to explain all behaviour in terms of biology.
Assumes continuity of behaviour between animals and humans.
Reductionism ­ Hierarchy of Sciences
Less precise, more general sciences at the top.
More narrowly focused and precise sciences at the bottom.
Watson: "There is only one science, Physics: the rest is just social work".
Reductionism ­ Strengths
Has brought with it both analytic and scientific ways of attempting to understand and explain behaviour.
Scientific investigation allows for empirical investigation.
Demonstrates how biology is for understanding and explaining behaviour.
Reductionism ­ Limitations
May lead to an over simplistic view of behaviour ­ the complexity is missed.
Many theories have been developed but no attempt has been made to combine the theories.
Some physicists argue it suffers from an infinite regress ­ parts can be reduced endlessly.
Holism/Reductionism Relating to Topics
Schizophrenia ­ in terms of neurotransmitters and genes (Reductionist) ­ in terms of socio-cultural
explanations (higher level; more holistic).
Humanistic ­ a person can only be understood as a whole (Holistic).
Labiba PSYB4 ­ UpperSixth7

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Idiographic Vs Nomothetic
Focus on the individual and recognition of uniqueness.
Private, subjective and conscious experiences.
Qualitative methods of investigation.
Idiographic ­ Introduction
Suggests everyone is unique and therefore everyone should be studied in an individual way.
No general laws are possible because of chance, free will and the uniqueness of individuals.
Idiographic ­ Methods of Investigation
Tends to include quantitative data, investigating individuals in a personal and detailed way.
Methods of research include: case study, unstructured interviews, self-reports, autobiographies
and personal documents.…read more

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Gives a superficial understanding ­ people may act the same but for different reasons.
Extensive use of controlled laboratory experiments creates a lack of generalisation to everyday
Idiographic/Nomothetic Working Together
Both have a role but relative value of each depends on the purpose of the research.
Two approaches can be complementary ­ idiographic can further develop a nomothetic law.
Both can contribute to scientific approach ­ idiographic suited to description; nomothetic to
predictions.…read more

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Includes the controlling role of different parts of the brain, hormonal system and genetics on
Some studies have indicated a genetic predisposition towards some behaviour.
Determinism ­ Psychic
Represented by Freud's psychodynamic theory.
Human behaviour, thoughts and feelings are caused by the life and death instincts and by
repressed conflicts, wishes and memories in the unconscious mind.
Because it is unconscious people believe they are free.
Determinism ­ Environmental
Behaviour is caused by factors within the external environment.…read more

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Scientifically tested.
Nature ­ Limitations
Neglects the role of the environment.
Often hard to find twins or adoption studies to relate to the topic of interest.
Nurture ­ Introduction
Concerned with the role of the environment.
The environment shapes all of a person's personality and behaviours.
Nurture ­ Types of Environmental Influence
External and individual.
Acting on a passive individual.
Nurture ­ Levels of Environment
Lerner (1986).…read more


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