The argument that we can explain behaviour and experiences by reference to only one factor, such as physiology or learning.
Reductionism And Determinism
Reductionism and determinism are closely linked, where you find one, likely to find the other.
Rose's forms of reductionism: Methodological reduc
The use of reductionism as a method of investigating phenomena. A researcher reduces behaviour to a set of variables which can be controlled and measured, thus cause and effect relationships can be established.
Rose's forms of reductionism: Philosophical reduct
An attempt to find a ‘Grand Theory of Everything’ – 1 language that can be used to talk about everything in the universe. Will help to form an all-embracing explanation of the world.
Rose's forms of reductionism: Ideological reductio
A vested political interest, usually in the form of coercion (the act of compelling by force of authority).
Types of reductionism: Physiological reductionism
Argues that all behaviour and experiences can be explained (or reduced to) by biological factors such as hormones or the nervous system.
Reduces all causes of behaviour to genetic inheritance.
Argues that all behaviour and experiences can be explained simply by the effect of groups on the individual.
Arguments for reductionism
- By breaking down a phenomenon to its constituent parts it may be possible to understand the whole.
- This type of single mindedness has led to some great discoveries in psychology as it has in the 'natural’ sciences.
- Is appropriate for certain levels of explanation – e.g. if you're talking about living cells, it makes sense to use cellular biology and not psychology.
Arguments against reductionism
- Too simplistic because they ignore the complexities of human behaviour and experience. Behaviour often has a number of different causes and to reduce the possible explanations to one level can only provide a limited understanding.
- Inappropriate for psychology – methodological reductionism reducing complex behaviour to variables which can be manipulated and measured, the results from these types of experiments cannot be generalised as they lack ecological validity.
- Holistic may be more appropriate for psychology– looks at the process as a whole.
Reductionism in Psychological Theories and Studies
- The cause has been linked to excessive activity by dopamine.
- Anti-psychotic drugs can be used to reduce dopamine activity in the brain and symptoms of the disorder.
- As a result, the drug itself may be able to eradicate schizophrenia by controlling the levels of dopamine. So where does this leave the environmental factors of schizophrenia?