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Give an example of reducing something to component parts.

The behaviour of a class can be explained as a result of the behaviours of all the individuals in it. The teacher, subject etc do not play a part in the class' behaviour.


What is reduction to a lower level?

Places Psychology in the middle of the hierarchy of sciences.
Less precise and general sciences (eg sociology) at the top.
Focused and precise sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) at the bottom.
Psychological explanations replaced by explanations of the physical sciences.


Chequered analogy?

Sociocultural level of explanation - cultural context - necessary to sign a cheque to transfer money do to context of culture

Psychological level of explanation - cognitive processes, personality, emotion - look at whats going on in head, eg resent having to pay bill

Neurological - neurons - pathways in brain needed to write signature


What is biological reductionism?

Attempt to explain all behaviour in terms of neurophysiology, biochemistry and genes. We are made up of biological components, meaning we can be explained at that level.


What is behavioural reductionism?

Radical behaviourists reduce behaviour to stimulus and response. They dismiss internal cognitive processes that cannot be overtly observed. Only focus on overt behaviour.


Outline the holistic/reductionism debate?

Reductionism is the belief that complex things can be explained by breaking them down into separate, simpler, component parts.

Holism, on the other hand, is the belief that the emphasis should be on the whole person, system, behaviour or experience rather than components.


Strengths and weaknesses of biological reductionism?

Apply to depression, easier to understand in terms of neurotransmitters than social world as higher level explanations less easily measured

Not just lack of seretonin, delay, reductionism is over simplistic, need to consider whole person and higher levels of explanation for fuller understanding. Eg women more susceptible to depression, maybe because of their position in society in comparison to men.


Strengths and Limitations of behavioural reductionism?

Highly scientific, only observable behaviour

Use of animals not applicable to high level functioning humans. Humanism would argue we are all unique and different from animals.


Strengths if reductionism?

Simplifies behaviour, and makes easier to explain with concrete, concise terms. This is unlike higher levels of explanation which are not easily observed, defined, or measured due to vague, I falsifiable concepts.

It is consistent with the scientific approach and links psychology to respectable sciences. By breaking down into component parts, theories can be tested and falsified.


Weaknesses of reductionism?

Complexity of behaviour is missed. The meaning of behaviour is gained from the situation or cultural context, not its physiological description. Eg, in the cheque analogy, by reducing to neurological, miss out that it could be for a gift or a bill.

The psychological dimension of an experience helps us understand behaviour. For example, the feeling of depression is not describable in terms of neurotransmitters.


What is gestalt psychology?

It is essential to look at unified wholes, totalities and complete structures. Things are more than just the sum of its component parts. Eg, shown a figure of a rectangle with a piece missing, described as a rectangle, not four lines joined at right angles with one line shorter than others.

Insight learning involves seeing the relationship between all parts, becoming a whole. Eg, chimpanzee given bananas out of reach and stick within reach, realised stick, arm and distance involved all had to come together for him to get the banana.


What is humanistic psychology?

The drive for self actualisation gives purpose to the whole of the person. In client centred therapy, the individual is encouraged to develop a sense of the 'whole person'. Peak experiences give a sense of unity, wholeness and fulfilment.


Strengths of holistic?

Provide a more complete picture of behaviour and experience, and don't ignore the complexity of behaviour.


Weaknesses of holistic approach?

Subjective and unfalsifiable proposals, no way of objectively investigating something like a 'peak experience'. Lacks scientific credibility.

Holistic explanations are hypothetical, so lack predictive power.


Interaction its approach?

Better to consider multiple levels of explanation, eg in schizophrenia, social, psychological and neuropccjemical explanations looked at.