Comparison of Approaches to Human Behaviour

he table below illustrates the Approaches to Human Behaviour that are covered throughout the Approaches unit. As part of the specification (AQA) it is a requirement that students are able to offer a comparison of the approaches to human behaviour. This table outlines a comparison in relation to; determinism and free will, reductionism and holism, nature vs. nurture, extrapolation and whether the approach is idiographic or nomothetic.

Humanist Approach (to human behaviour)

The Humanistic Approach is quite different to the other approaches we’ve already studied, in that it claims that human beings are essentially self-determining and have free will. The approach still maintains that people are affected by internal (biological) and external (societal) influences but they are active agents who have the ability to determine their own development within the constraints imposed by the other forces. The humanistic approach rejects scientific models that attempt to establish general laws of behaviour and instead concerns itself with the study of subjective experience. Often referred to as a person-centred approach

The Biological Approach: the Influence of Genes, Biological Structures and Neurochemistry on Behaviour. Genotype and Phenotype, Genetic Basis of Behaviour, Evolution and Behaviour

Each individual is born with 23 chromosomes which they’ve inherited from both of their birth parents. There is a suggestion that behavioural characteristics, such as intelligence and mental illness, are inherited in exactly the same way our physical characteristics, such as eye colour and height, are. Twin studies are used to determine the likelihood that certain traits have a genetic basis by comparing concordance rates (the extent to which 2 people share the same characteristic). If monozygotic (identical) twins have a higher concordance rate than dizygotic (non-identical) twins it would suggest a genetic basis because monozygotic twins share 100% of their DNA, and dizygotic only around 50%.

The Cognitive Approach (to human behaviour)

Main Assumptions of the Cognitive Approach:

  • People actively respond to environmental stimuli, depending on schemas and thoughts
  • People are information processors
  • Human mind operates in the same way as a computer
  • Cognitive processes can be modelled in order to make them observable and should be tested scientifically.

Learning Approaches: the Behaviourist Approach

Learning Approach: The Behaviourist Approach including;

Classical Conditioning and Pavlov’s research
(2) Operant Conditioning, types of reinforcement and Skinner’s research.
(3) Social Learning Theory including imitation, identification, modelling, vicarious reinforcement, the role of mediational processes and Bandura’s research.

Origins of Psychology and the Emergence of Psychology as a Science

Wundt is often referred to as the ‘Father of Psychology’ (who defined Psychology as ‘the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behaviour’). Wundt set up the first lab dedicated to psychological enquiry in Germany, in the 1870s. He promoted the use of introspection as a way of studying mental processes.