Monday, 6 February 2017

COLLEGE ESSAYS Compare and contrast two psychological approaches/perspectives - Behaviourism & Psychodynamics

There are many different approaches/perspectives in psychology. The two that will be analysed in this essay are behaviourism and psychodynamics. These two approaches take virtually opposing perspectives in their approach to psychology.

The aim of the essay is to look at the similarities and differences between these two approaches by way of a concept map.

Behaviourism is: an approach to psychology that accounts for behaviour in terms of observable events without reference to mental concepts such as ‘mind’ or ‘emotion’. (Cardwell 1996)

Psychodynamics (dynamic psychology) is the dynamic interplay of psychological process and phenomena arising from instincts that facilitate, inhibit and combine with one another, or produce compromise formations. (Coleman, 2001)

The concept map below illustrates the similarities and differences between the two.


From the concept map, you can clearly see that there are a lot of differences, most of which are completely opposite. However, there are some similarities.

Both theories are considered to be deterministic theories. A deterministic theory believes that our lives are already mapped out and we are simply taking a road we were put upon. This is to say that the outcome of our lives has already been decided and we simply have to choose which path to take.

Both theories are also considered to be reductionist theories. A reductionist theory believes that we can understand the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts. It could almost be seen as a jigsaw puzzle. Our minds are made up of smaller pieces which when put together make something complete and complex.

Both behaviourism and psychodynamics have opened up the world of psychology and given us a lot to consider when trying to figure out the inner workings of the mind.

Behaviourism specifically shows us that it is not only ‘human minds’ that can be figured out.
Both theories are still widely used today to some extent and a lot of research carried out now is based on or linked back to these theories.


Cardwell, M (1996) Complete A-Z Psychology Handbook, Hodder and Stoughton, London

Coleman, A (2001) Oxford Dictionary of Psychology, Oxford University Press Inc., New York

Gross, R. Sixth Edition (2010) Psychology The Science of Mind and Behaviour, Hodder Education, London.

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