debates in psychology

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what is free will?
The assumption that people are free to choose how to think and behave (humanistic approach)
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what is determinism?
the assumption that people have no control over their behaviour
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what is soft determinism?
the view that not only genetic/ biological factors are responsible for behaviour but subjective experience also plays a part
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what is hard determinism?
genetics and external forces determine behaviour, therefore making humans predictable (biological and behaviourist approach)
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what is biological determinism?
it suggests that hormones, genetics, heredity factors and brain functioning are responsible for behaviour.
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what is environmental determinism?
this is associated with the radical behaviourist approach. it assumes that behaviour is controlled by punishment and reward (skinner and Watson)
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what is psychic determinism?
(Freud) behaviours come from the unconscious and childhood experiences
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what do humanistic psychologists think about free will?
they believe individuals exercise free will when it comes to behaviour but responsibilities and social constraints influence and limit behaviours
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what is Fatalism?
it assumes that all human behaviour/thought is predetermined and can't be changed (supported by hard determinism)
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what is fear of freedom?
this is the conflict that Fromm proposed between personal freedom and morality which normally led to people blindly following eachother
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scientific explanations for free will/ determinism
behaviourist approach future behaviour can be predicted from previous reward/punishment, the approach aims to explain behaviour in a casual way even though the approach is scientific
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Casual explanations of behaviour
personality factors- an extrovert is more likely to be outgoing and sociable from this general personality characteristic we can have a casual explanation of behaviour
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what is nativism?
the view that humans have innate characteristics that are inherited
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what is the empiricist view?
all knowledge comes from experience therefore, thought, behaviour, personality etc are a result of social and environmental influences
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Heredity influence on behaviour
twin studies, if genetic etc are the sole cause of behaviour of MZ twins concordance rates would be 100%
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support for nature
Gibson and Walk (1960) babies showed an innate knowledge of depth, they didn't crawl on to the glass that made it look like a cliff
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influence of environment on behaviour?
unique environmental experiences are what causes differences in genetically related people (adoption studies)
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what is the interactionist approach?
it uses a combination of nature and nurture to explain behaviour
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how important is the interactionist approach at explaining behaviour?
Phenylketinuria (PKU) is a genetic disorder but environmental issues (diet) make the symptoms worse and affect intelligence and learning ability
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everyone is born with the innate potential to acquire language (language acquisition) but the language we learn with fluency is due to the environment/ nurture
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sexual motivation is controlled by hormones (nature) but the release of these hormones is controlled by environmental stimulus (clothing, music, perfume etc)
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what is holism?
the view that a person has to be considered as a whole to fully understand them
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what is reductionism?
to understand humans behaviours have to be split into the smallest component parts and analysed
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support for the holistic view
Kohler- animal problem solving couldn't always be reduced down to automatic response to stimuli, instead insight learning is used where new ways of solving problems are created (the chimpanzees stacking the boxes so they could eat)
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structuralist approach
it was believed that all human consciousness could be reduced to components
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strengths of reductionism
scientific way of understanding behaviour (both animal and human), scientific investigation of component parts allows theories to be empirically tested and investigated, demonstrates how important biology is for understanding/explaining behaviour
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reductionist limitations
can be over-simplistic, little attempt has been made to combine theories to give an overall picture, it runs the danger of keep reducing things to smaller component parts
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Holistic strengths
respects individuality, investigates component parts to see the person as a whole, underpins humanistic psychology which has introduced therapies
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Holistic limitations
holistic approaches aren't scientific, neglects biological explanations, has shuned scientific findings
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interactionist of holism and reductionism
when relationships between people are concerned the reductionist approach is concerned with social influence and other components separately but viewing the person as a social being is holistic
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what is the idiographic approach?
recognises individuality in terms of, feeling, experiences, motivations and aspirations (humanistic) qualitative investigation
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what is the nomothetic approach?
it focuses on similarities between people and tries to establish general laws of behaviour through objective knowledge and scientific evidence (cognitive/behaviourist) quantitative investigation
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idiographic strengths?
subjective experiences make the individual feel valued, tries to understand the many influences of psychohisories, the humanistic approach uses the idographic approach to help people reach their full potential
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idogrpahic limitations?
difficult to generalise, often regarded as non-scientific because subjective experience can't be empirically tested, neglects biological/genetic influences
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Nomothetic strengths?
helped psychology become scientific, attempts to determine general laws for large groups, helps to combine biological and social aspects of a person
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Nomothetic limitations?
the focus on general laws can mean subjective experience is pushed aside, it lacks mundane realism because of excessive lab testing, overemphasises similarities and underplays individual differences
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what is determinism?


the assumption that people have no control over their behaviour

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what is soft determinism?


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what is hard determinism?


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what is biological determinism?


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