Psychological Perspective in Health and Social Care




Activity 1- P 1: Describe and Explain the 6 Psychological Perspectives

 Behaviourist Perspective

            The behaviourist approach entails the study of human behaviour using scientific means but without the need for examining an individual's inner mental states.  Winger et al. (2005) have identified the elusive nature of free will as a leading assumption of the behaviourist theory.  The theory is also interested in how human interacts with the environment and its role in reinforcing behaviour.

            The behaviourist theory was popularised by Ivan Pavlov, a behavioural scientist who was interested in the study of classical conditioning. However, B.F. Skinner is the most prominent behaviourism theorist mainly due to his efforts to advance the behaviourist philosophy of radical behaviourism (McLeod 2007). To several behaviourists, the most convenient way of examining the human being's mental and psychological processes is through observation. On the other hand, other behaviourists maintain that the aforementioned processes cannot be adequately investigated through observation alone.      

            Pavlov developed classic conditioning through his experiments to determine the digestive patterns in dogs. His findings reveal a tendency among humans to develop responses to induced motivations. In future, there is the tendency to associate such responses specific stimuli in the same way that the Pavlov dogs associated the ringing of the bell with food (Jensen 2006).  On the other hand, operant conditioning is concerned with an organism responds to certain environmental cues that shape its behaviour.



 Psychodynamic approach

            The psychodynamic approach to psychology was developed by Sigmund Freud. His main focus was to investigate how our unconscious mind influences our actions and thoughts. One of the major assumptions of the psychodynamic approach is that human behaviour is largely determined by the unconscious mind. Therefore, each human utterance, behaviour or thought conceals a latent intention or motive (Jarvis 2003). The latent motives of individual behaviour mirror our early experiences, especially before the age of five years. They also reflect our intuitive biological drives.  Specifically, the way of parents treated us has a huge impact on our adult life. 

             According to psychodynamic psychologists, our behaviour is as a result of compromise between three crucial personalities: the id, the ego, and the superego. The id refers to biological drives such as the urge to drink, eat, or have sex. However, the superego hinders the desire to fulfil these biological cravings by creating feelings of guilt and anxiety, according to Glassman and Hada (2008). On the other hand, the ego tries to find a way of fulfilling the desires of the id without antagonising the superego. Consequently, constant conflict unfolds between the unconscious mind and the conscious mind, thereby leading to anxiety that can only be handled by the defence mechanisms of the ego. 

Social Learning Theory

            According to social learning theorists, human behaviour is largely influenced by our social environment. In addition, social learning theory hinges on the premise that mental processes also play a crucial role in shaping human behaviour (Glassman, Glassman & Hadad 2008).  Social Learning Theory combines both behavioural and cognitive processes. Studying the behaviour of another human being (model), the researcher needs to first focus on the actions of such a model. It is also crucial to develop a memory of the observed behaviour.  The formed memory of the model should translate into a behaviour that can be imitated by the observer. This calls for practice and the motivation. In this case, several factors are at play in determining the observer's motivation. According to Akers (2011), the main factor involved is the ability of the observer to reinforce the imitated memory. Past behaviour can also affect the belief on an observer, as well as the ramifications of the model's behaviour. In case the observer notices that the consequences of the model have been reinforced, they are more likely to imitate such behaviour. On the other hand, punishment or vicarious reinforcement influences imitation of behaviour negatively.

 Humanistic Perspective 

            According to this perspective, one of the key goals of healthy individuals is to reach their full potential, both inter-personally and personally. Humanistic psychologists believe in a close connection between an individual’s behaviour, his/her self-image, and inner feelings. The humanistic perspective is based on the premise that every individual is unique and that each one of us have the free will to be different (Schneider, Bugental & Pierson 2002).  As such, the humanistic perspective argues that we are solely responsible for our own individual wellbeing and happiness. They also argue that each of us has an inborn ability to reach our full potential.  Key players of the humanistic perspective in the 1950s and 1960s included Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

Evolutionary Perspective

            This perspective explains how selective pressures determine and shape human behaviour. The evolutionary perspective places a lot of emphasis on natural selection. The perspective also argues that sexual selection determines behaviour by noting how our ancestors were able to survive and reproduce through mind “instincts” (Hampton 2010). The evolutionary perspective also helps to explain behaviour that would in the modern context make little, if any, sense such as the human biological stress response, or dysfunctional behaviour like anorexia.

Cognitive information processing (CIP) perspective

            The CIP perspective refers to a number of abstractive approaches concerned with the sequence and implementation of cognitive events (Schunk 1996).  CIP theories are concerned with individuals who attend to environmental activities, encode information that requires learning, and connect this with the knowledge in their memory. Such individuals are also able to store within their memory new knowledge that they can always retrieve as the need arises.

 Activity- M1: Assess the different approaches that would be useful in each of the settings: Children under 5

            Albert Bandura's social learning theory is the best psychological perspective for studying learning and development in children below the age 5. Bandura demonstrated how children imitate and learn behaviour in his popular experiment, the Bobbo doll experiment (Pastorino & Doyle-Portillo 2012). In the experiment, had the chance to observe adults being violent to a Bobbo doll. Later when the same children were allowed to play with this same doll, they started imitating the aggressive behaviour that they had observed from the adults.

Elderly people in care home

             Social learning theory would be best suited for studying this particular group. This is because it would enable us to determine the effect of the care home environment on the behaviour of the elderly people.



People with learning disabilities

            The behavioural perspective would be suitable for people with learning disabilities.

Activity 2- P2/P3: Explain 4 different approaches to explain John's behaviour and how to overcome these:

-Verbally aggressive

- Physical aggression

- Inappropriate sexual relations with older women

- Eats and drinks excessively

            John is manifesting verbal and physical aggression. In this case, we could use the social learning theory to explain his behaviour.  This theory could help us to deduce the impact of John's social environment on his behaviour.  On the other hand, his verbal and physical aggression could be due to repressed feelings and thoughts from his subconscious mind, as explained by the psychodynamic approach. The behaviourist perspective would also be useful. There is a chance that John grew up in an environment where verbal aggression was rampant, and he may have picked his behaviour from this environment.

            The psychodynamic approach can be used to explain John's behaviour to engage in inappropriate sexual relations with older women. This could be attributed to his repressed desire to have sexual relationships with his mother in his childhood but in this case, he has transferred these urges to other elderly women. On the other hand, we can use the behaviourist perspective to determine why John eats and drinks excessively, because these are behaviour-induced actions.




 Activity 2-M2:  Compare 2 of the approaches you have discussed

Similarities and differences between social learning theory and behaviourist perspective

              Both the social learning theory and behaviourism perspective have their roots in the historical context of the experiential child. Even as the social learning theory stems from behaviourism, it is both an expansion and revision of conventional behaviourism and hence the two are different on certain aspects.


            Albert Bandura's social learning theory and the behaviourist perspective share three key similarities. In both, experience is a vital for learning. Both view feedback as a significant cause of learning. The two theories also include punishment and reinforcement in behavioural explanations (Eggen 2001). 


            In terms of differences, the two theories also share three key differences. Both view learning differently (Eggen 2001). While behaviourism views learning as an alteration in observable behaviour, on the other hand, the social learning theory views learning as “an internal process that may or may not result in immediate behavioural change” (Eggen 2001, p. 235). 

            Behaviourism views behaviour as being caused by the environment in a one-way correlation, while social learning theory talks of a complex interaction between behaviour, personal factors, and the environment (Eggen 2001). In terms of interpreting punishment and reinforcement, behaviourism notes that “reinforcers and punishment are direct causes of behaviour” (Eggen 2001, p. 236), while social learning theory indicates that “reinforcers and punishers cause expectations” (Eggen 201, p. 236).   

            Social learning theory emphasizes on overt behaviour and its immediate causes. This has led to the development of various clinical breakthroughs and practical applications. The theory also enables the “modelling and reinforcing alternative behaviours that are more socially desirable” (Shafter 2008, p. 51).  This theory is viewed by many critics as an “oversimplified account of social and personality development” (Shaffer 2008, p. 51). 

Activity 2-D 1 Evaluate the 2 approaches Make an informal judgement on which aspects of each approach are most or least useful, justifying your conclusions Which ones do you think will be more successful in helping John and which will not; explain why 

            There are many aspects of the behavioural perspective that can be applied in helping John deal with his condition. To start with, behaviourism is mainly focused on observable behaviour, and not on the internal events such as emotional and thinking. John's behaviour falls under this category. We can tell when he is eating or drinking too much. His verbal and physical aggression can also be assessed both scientifically and objectively, and this is the premise of behavioural perspective (Abramson 2013). Therefore, the behavioural perspective’s reliance on response association or stimulus can be used in the case of John to determine his behaviour.

            On the other hand, social learning theory would be equally effective because it integrates both the behavioural learning theory and cognitive learning theory (Bandura 2006). As such, this particular theory would be useful in determining the extent to which the behaviour manifested by John is as a result of the effects of psychological factors, or responses to environmental cues.








Reference List

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Bandura, A 2006. Social cognitive theory. In S. Rogelberg (Ed.). Encyclopaedia of Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

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Glassman, W, Glassman, WE & Hadad, M 2008. Approaches to Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill International. 

Hampton, S 2010.  Essential Evolutionary Psychology. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Jarvis, M 2003. Psychodynamic Psychology: Classical Theory and Contemporary Research. London: Cengage Learning.

Jensen, R 2006,' Behaviourism, Latent Learning, and Cognitive Maps: Needed Revisions in Introductory Psychology Textbooks', Behav Anal., Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 187-209.

McLeod, SA 2007). Behaviourist Approach. [online]. Available at:

Accessed 31 October 2014.

Pastorino, E & Doyle-Portillo, S 2012. Cengage Advantage Books: What is Psychology? Essentials. Stamford, Mass.: Cengage Learning.

Shaffe, DR 2008. Social and Personality Development sixth edition. Stamford, Mass.: Cengage Learning.

Schneider, KJ, Bugental, JFT & Pierson, JF 2002. The Handbook of Humanistic Psychology: Leading Edges in Theory, Research, and Practice.  London: Sage Publications

Schunk, DH 1996. Learning Theories (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Merrill.

Toates, F 2001. Biological Psychology: An Integrative Approach. First Edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education

Winger, G, Woods, JH, Galuska, CM & Wade-Galuska, T 2005,'Behaviorla Perspectives on the Neuroscience of Drug Addiction', J Exp Anal Behav., Vol. 84, No. 3, pp. 667-681. 


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