Holism and Reductionsism Flashcards Preview

Psychology - Issues & Debates > Holism and Reductionsism > Flashcards

Flashcards in Holism and Reductionsism Deck (15)
Loading flashcards...

What is Holism?

An argument or theory which proposes that it only makes sense to study an indivisible system rather than its constituent parts.


What is Reductionism?

The belief that human behaviour is best explained by breaking it down into smaller constituent parts.


What is biological reductionism?

A form of reductionism which attempts to explain social and psychological phenomena at a lower biological level.


What is environmental reductionism?

The attempt to explain all behaviour in terms of stimulus-response links that have been learned through experience.


What are the evaluation points for hol vs reduc?

For holism
Against holism
For reductionism
Against reductionism
The interactionist approach


Evaluation point: For holism

Some aspects of social behaviour cannot be understood at the level of the individual group, e.g. conformity to social roles. SPE, the de-individuation of prisoners and guards could not be understood by studying individuals.
This shows that holistic explanations provide a more complete understanding of behaviour than reductionist approaches.


Evaluation point: Against holism

Holistic explanations become more vague as they become more complex.
Higher level explanations that combine many different factors can make it difficult to establish which is most influential and for depression which one to use as a basis for therapy.
This suggests then when finding solutions to real world problems, a lower level explanation may be more appropriate.


Evaluation point: For reductionism

In order to create operationalized variables it is necessary to break target behaviours down into constituent parts. This makes it possible to conduct experiments or record observations in a way that it meaningful and reliable.
This gives psychology greater credibility, placing it on equal terms with the natural sciences lower down in the reductionist hierarchy.


Evaluation point: Against reductionism

Criticised for oversimplifying complex phenomena leading to a lack of validity. For example explanations of the gene, neurotransmitter or neuron do not include analysis of the social context.
This means that reductionist explanations can only ever form part on an explanation


Evaluation point: The interactionist approach

An alternative to reductionism is the interactionist stance. Whilst holism is more concerned with higher level explanations of behaviour, such as behaviour of individuals, interactionism considers how different levels of explanation may combine and interact.
It provides a more multidisciplinary approach.


Who proposed the idea of holism?

A group of German researchers working in the 1920s and 30s - known collectively as Gesalt psychologists - famously declared that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.


Where does the idea of reductionism originate from?

Reductionism is based on scientific principle of parsimony: that whole phenomena should be explained using the most basic principles, often the simplest, easiest and most economical level of explanation.


What does it mean to say there are different levels of explanation in psychology?

There are different ways of viewing the same phenomena in psychology, some more reductionist than others. OCD could be understood as; socio-cultural lvl - irrational behaviour, psychological lvl - obsessive thoughts, physical lvl - sequence of repetitive movements, physiological - hypersensitivity of the basal ganglia, neurochemical lvl - underproduction of serotonin. These are alternative lvls of explanation each more reductionist than the last.


What is an example of reductionism?

Explanations of criminality - forensics


What is an example of holism?

The Humanistic approach - approaches