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Methods of Comparison
1. Views on Development
2. Nature v Nurture
3. Reductionism v Holism
4. Determinism v Freewill
5. Idiographic v Nomothetic
1. Views on Development
Child development is well accounted for by the
following approaches: -
 Psychodynamic – 5 psychosexual stages
 Cognitive - has a number of different stages of
development to explain intellectual/thought and
moral development.
 Humanistic - sees development as centred on the
SELF. Development is lifelong.
Maslow’s
Hierarchy of
Needs
 Biological - sees development as maturational, where
genetically controlled changes in a child’s physiology
influence their mind and behavioural characteristics.
This maturational process is seen as very important.
 The Learning approach however,(both Behavioural
and Social Learning) does not have any stage theories,
but instead sees learning as continuous and occurring
at any age, in varied orders.
2. Nature versus Nurture
This is the difference in opinion about whether human behaviour is
more influenced by our inherited biology (NATURE) or whether
the environment we are in, and our life experiences are more
likely to explain why we do what we do (NURTURE).
 The Biological approach favours Nature most strongly.
 Both of the Learning approaches favour Nurture most strongly.
 The Psychodynamic approach considers both biology and
experience are significant (Nature AND Nurture).
 The Cognitive approach suggests that innate abilities are
developed through our experiences and application (Nature AND
Nurture).
 The Humanistic approach regards our social environment as
having a critical impact (Nurture).
3. Reductionism and Holism
 Reductionism – an explanation for behaviour can be made
by considering just one element in isolation (a narrow
viewpoint).
 Holism – an accurate explanation has to take many
different factors into account, and how they interact (the
bigger picture).
 For example, the Learning approach (behavioural) explains
all behaviour via association of two environmental factors,
and ignores biology and cognitions and so is Reductionist.
 The Biological approach on the other hand sees genes as
determining our behaviour, almost regardless of choice,
and so is Reductionist.
 The Humanistic approach is slightly more holistic as it
involves understanding an individual’s sense of themselves,
others and wider society too.
4. Determinism and Free Will
Determinism proposes that all behaviour has an internal
or external cause and so is predictable should these
triggers occur.
Free will is the view that someone can choose not to
respond to these internal or external triggers.
 The Biological approach believes we are genetically
determined (our genes control our behaviour).
 The Psychodynamic approach believes people are
Psychically determined (by unconscious forces).
 The Learning approach suggests we make associations
between things by mechanisms that are outside our
control.
These are all HARD DETERMINISM = no choice.
There are also SOFT DETERMINISM viewpoints: -
 The Cognitive approach suggests we have some
choice, only the choice is limited by our
knowledge/ experience/level of development.
 The Learning approach (Social Learning) believes
we have RECIPROCAL DETERMINISM. This is
the idea that our choice is influenced by the
environment, but we also have some choice about
the behaviours we choose to perform.
 The Humanistic approach is the only one that
believes people have total FREE WILL.
5. Idiographic versus Nomothetic
 Idiographic – Understanding what makes
individuals UNIQUE.
 Nomothetic – general laws applying to LARGE
GROUPS of people.
The Eclectic Approach
This means combining various approaches, methods
and perspectives to provide a better, more
complete account of human nature.
Examples are: -
a) The Diathesis Stress model
b) The Biosocial approach
(See next slides for more information)
The Diathesis Stress Model
 ‘Diathesis’ means a genetic predisposition that
makes someone susceptible to something. It
comes from the Greek for ‘disposition’.
 ‘Stress’ means the real-life challenge faced by a
particular environment someone is experiencing.
 When these two things are combined, the model
predicts that there is a threshold that if
exceeded, leads to a psychological disorder.
 This model was first used to explain schizophrenia
in the 1960s.
The Biosocial Approach
 This rejects the traditional polarisation of nature and nurture
and instead explains how they are intertwined.
 A good example of this can be seen where we are influenced
socially by other people but we can see this is controlled by
specific areas of the brain e.g. mirror neuronal activity (our
brains are stimulated in a matching way by observing the actions
of others, even though we aren’t actually performing the action
ourselves).
 This is a combination of SOCIAL
and BIOLOGICAL explanations.
E.g.

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Comparison of Approaches

  • 1.
  • 2. Methods of Comparison 1. Views on Development 2. Nature v Nurture 3. Reductionism v Holism 4. Determinism v Freewill 5. Idiographic v Nomothetic
  • 3. 1. Views on Development Child development is well accounted for by the following approaches: -  Psychodynamic – 5 psychosexual stages
  • 4.  Cognitive - has a number of different stages of development to explain intellectual/thought and moral development.
  • 5.  Humanistic - sees development as centred on the SELF. Development is lifelong. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
  • 6.  Biological - sees development as maturational, where genetically controlled changes in a child’s physiology influence their mind and behavioural characteristics. This maturational process is seen as very important.  The Learning approach however,(both Behavioural and Social Learning) does not have any stage theories, but instead sees learning as continuous and occurring at any age, in varied orders.
  • 7. 2. Nature versus Nurture This is the difference in opinion about whether human behaviour is more influenced by our inherited biology (NATURE) or whether the environment we are in, and our life experiences are more likely to explain why we do what we do (NURTURE).  The Biological approach favours Nature most strongly.  Both of the Learning approaches favour Nurture most strongly.  The Psychodynamic approach considers both biology and experience are significant (Nature AND Nurture).  The Cognitive approach suggests that innate abilities are developed through our experiences and application (Nature AND Nurture).  The Humanistic approach regards our social environment as having a critical impact (Nurture).
  • 8. 3. Reductionism and Holism  Reductionism – an explanation for behaviour can be made by considering just one element in isolation (a narrow viewpoint).  Holism – an accurate explanation has to take many different factors into account, and how they interact (the bigger picture).  For example, the Learning approach (behavioural) explains all behaviour via association of two environmental factors, and ignores biology and cognitions and so is Reductionist.  The Biological approach on the other hand sees genes as determining our behaviour, almost regardless of choice, and so is Reductionist.  The Humanistic approach is slightly more holistic as it involves understanding an individual’s sense of themselves, others and wider society too.
  • 9. 4. Determinism and Free Will Determinism proposes that all behaviour has an internal or external cause and so is predictable should these triggers occur. Free will is the view that someone can choose not to respond to these internal or external triggers.  The Biological approach believes we are genetically determined (our genes control our behaviour).  The Psychodynamic approach believes people are Psychically determined (by unconscious forces).  The Learning approach suggests we make associations between things by mechanisms that are outside our control. These are all HARD DETERMINISM = no choice.
  • 10. There are also SOFT DETERMINISM viewpoints: -  The Cognitive approach suggests we have some choice, only the choice is limited by our knowledge/ experience/level of development.  The Learning approach (Social Learning) believes we have RECIPROCAL DETERMINISM. This is the idea that our choice is influenced by the environment, but we also have some choice about the behaviours we choose to perform.  The Humanistic approach is the only one that believes people have total FREE WILL.
  • 11. 5. Idiographic versus Nomothetic  Idiographic – Understanding what makes individuals UNIQUE.  Nomothetic – general laws applying to LARGE GROUPS of people.
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14. The Eclectic Approach This means combining various approaches, methods and perspectives to provide a better, more complete account of human nature. Examples are: - a) The Diathesis Stress model b) The Biosocial approach (See next slides for more information)
  • 15.
  • 16. The Diathesis Stress Model  ‘Diathesis’ means a genetic predisposition that makes someone susceptible to something. It comes from the Greek for ‘disposition’.  ‘Stress’ means the real-life challenge faced by a particular environment someone is experiencing.  When these two things are combined, the model predicts that there is a threshold that if exceeded, leads to a psychological disorder.  This model was first used to explain schizophrenia in the 1960s.
  • 17.
  • 18. The Biosocial Approach  This rejects the traditional polarisation of nature and nurture and instead explains how they are intertwined.  A good example of this can be seen where we are influenced socially by other people but we can see this is controlled by specific areas of the brain e.g. mirror neuronal activity (our brains are stimulated in a matching way by observing the actions of others, even though we aren’t actually performing the action ourselves).  This is a combination of SOCIAL and BIOLOGICAL explanations.
  • 19. E.g.