A comparison between behaviorist psychology and humanistic Psychology
Behaviorist Psychology is an aspect of psychology that is based on the belief that the behavior of an individual is a result of responses to environmental conditions (Henry, 2017). It refers to stimulus-oriented actions that an individual undertakes according to his perception and attitude. Humanistic Psychology, on the other hand, is based on the convention that every individual is unique in his perception and psychological quotient and must be treated without generalizing the factors (Pincus et al., 2018). The main aspects governing humanistic psychology are self-efficacy, free will, and self-actualization. A humanistic approach is a modern approach to psychology whereas Behaviorist psychology is based on studies and observations by researchers.
Proponents of humanistic psychology include that it includes dimensions such as feelings, thinking, and perception which are omitted in behaviorist psychology. Humanistic psychology is an evolutionary concept that believes in the hierarchy of needs. When primitive needs are fulfilled, the individual moves to the next stage of needs. This is a mirroring concept with Maslow's need hierarchy theory (Henry, 2017). self-actualization is the last step, where the individual realizes his complete potential. But it cannot overcast the applicability of behaviorist psychology as it has some practical base. People do get influenced by their environment and their innate perception to respond in a unique way to the circumstance form and define their psychology. For example, a child may perceive his circumstance as burdensome whereas another individual may view the same circumstance as an opportunity. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are largely derived out of one’s perception about his environment and circumstances. The scope of behaviorist theory includes learning through association, rewards and penalties, and aversion therapy (Pincus et al., 2018). The limited scope of behaviorist psychology gave rise to the need for humanistic psychology. The humanistic approach evolved during the 1960s when the "human potential" movement was spreading rapidly in the US. It included the dynamic needs and organized these needs in different stages propelled by Maslow.
The major difference between the two concepts lies in the approach of perceiving the information. The advocates of humanistic psychology stated that behaviorist psychology was pessimistic as it considered the extremes of emotions and is limited to the relation of environment and human perception that was determined by the surrounding of the person. Humanistic psychology believed that a person is free to think in different ways and is not confined to be influenced by a circumstance in a predetermined manner. Humanistic psychology has a broader scope and includes humanistic therapy that consists of client-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, and existential therapy. These therapies are aimed at holistic healthcare treatment of the client. The other dimension of personal development of this theory exhorts a need for realizing the potential of the individual. Social change is the dimension that views the individual as the part of the community and society, he belongs to. Social change aims at the give and takes the relationship of the individual with his community. Behaviorist psychology, on the contrary, is based on outer response and observations by the practitioner/doctor and omits innate feelings, desires, and abilities of an individual. Behaviorist theory is supported by scholars as it was meant to link psychology with natural science and social science with appropriate measures. Behaviorist psychology's proponents include simplicity and practicality by using objective-based factors. Factors used in behaviorist psychology are measurable and observable (Reimann, 2018). Types of behaviorism include methodological behaviorism that deals with the objective experimental branch of psychology. It aims at ascertaining and controlling the behavior of an individual. Radical behaviorism is an advanced version of methodological behaviorism and it included inner factors of an individual to analyze the behavior but it does not view it as an indigenous factor of the behaviorist theory as in the humanistic theory. but this theory accepts the fact that every individual is born with unique innate traits that are not defined by their environment (Watson, 2017). For instance, Lord Buddha was born as a prince but lived a life of a sage.
The scholars do not deny the applicability of behaviorist theory as it has a practical base and is derived out of extensive studies and observation by John Watson followed by B.F. Skinner and other scholars of the 1900s (Watson, 2017). Environment affects one's psychology to great extent. It can be observed that people with strong cultural values perceive information in a different outlook than the person with little influence of culture (Pincus, Kiefer, and Beyer, 2018). Understanding psychology from these theories gives nursing two different approaches to treat patients. If the practitioner adopts a behaviorist approach, it is easy to ascertain the factors that have resulted in a specific personality of the patient and it can be easy to treat the patient by developing an appropriate plan. On the other hand, humanistic psychology aims at the holistic healthcare of the patient (Henry, 2017). It can be complex to ascertain the innate feelings and desires of the patient but it has a long-lasting effect on the patient if treatment includes a humanistic approach to plan the treatment. If the patient needs immediate treatment and time is of prime importance then the behaviorist approach is suitable but if the issue is gravely integrated with the inner state of the person, it is desirable to adopt the humanistic approach of psychology (Pincus, Kiefer, and Beyer, 2018).
Humanistic psychology has wider applicability in the contemporary world and it is promoted extensively across the globe as it serves the ethical principles of the healthcare service (Hawkins, 2017). Behaviorist theory has roots in natural science and hence its vitality cannot be ignored. The environment of an individual has a considerable influence on a human's mind and behavior. Humanistic psychology I have been adopted to provide patients with complete care and judicious decision-making by the practitioner (Pincus, Kiefer, and Beyer, 2018). if a person gets treated with the humanistic psychological approach, he/ she is likely to contribute to society and the world positively. In the other theory, the patient will limit the success of the treatment to himself/herself. Humanistic psychology aims at transforming the individual at the inner level (Henry, 2017). Behaviorist theory is limited to the extent of the illness. Behaviorist theory, however, is successful in treating the illness and diagnosing the root cause of the issue appropriately (Reimann, 2018).
It must be noted that each theory has evolved out of the limitation to prior theories and can be deduced as the advanced version of the preceding theory (Wong, 2017). It implies that each theory was suitable according to its prevailing period. Behaviorist theory was meant for linking psychology to natural Science so that theory can be backed by solid evidence and practical observations and studies (Wong, 2017). And the humanistic theory was developed in the period when the world was in transition and evolution from certainty in the market to more volatility in sectors like employment, education, sustainability, and economy (Hawkins, 2017). Both psychologies have great importance and must be considered in the nursing profession to treat patients and treatment must include the maximum benefit of the patient by applying the most suitable theory in practice (Watson, 2017).
- Psychological experiments are scientific means that involves use of psychological hypothesis that is tested scientifically. It uses participants with certain medical conditions along with individuals with healthy state of mind. A recent study on learning behavior of new words by individuals was carried out by scholars from University of Tubingen and Ural Federal University. The study included electroencephalography to determine the degree of responsiveness of brain to incongruent completed sentences (Mayrhofer et al., 2020). The study showed that the brain responses with smaller magnitude with sentences that end with a relevant pair such as ‘cats and dogs’ rather than ‘cats and sky’. This study helped the scholars to comprehend the pattern of learning new associations in different languages. Such experiments play a pivotal role in determining psychological patterns of human behavior and ascertain the factors responsible for specific mental disorders and development process of an individual’s mind in a specific environment. It assists in designing healthcare treatment for patients and make effective use of medical sources (Mayrhofer et al., 2020).
- In observation psychology, research data are collected by observing the participants and their actions and gestures. It only records those actions and behavior that is relevant to the study. Recently a research was conducted to find out whether Stressful Life Events (SLE) and Early Childhood Adversities (ECA) have same impact and depressive symptoms on men and women in old age. It also encompassed stress sensitization and stress proliferation effect regarding ECA and SLE (Power et al., 2018). The results show that ECA and SLE has significant impact on depressive symptoms. Low-income group, belonging to minority group, and inability to have access over basic things added to depressive symptoms. These observations in psychology are empirical to ascertain areas that need to be considered by the society and how these factors affecting individual’s psychology are related to crimes. Hence, observation psychology helps us to determine the ‘why’ factor of a certain human behavior (Power et al., 2018).
It is a moral obligation from the side of researchers to receive full consent from the participants before the research. Researchers need to respect the dignity and rights of participants and in the first case study, both these ethical considerations were neglected. The research also suffered due to violation of these ethical code of conduct. Concealment of the research makes the research ineffective. The participants will feel dejected and deceived which is unethical and cannot be justified by the researchers (Collins, et al., 2018).
In the second case, principle of disclosure of full information was violated by the researchers as they didn’t inform the participants that they will see indecent pornographic pictures in the tachistoscope. This might have made participants uncomfortable and furious. When participants do not have full information, the research suffers from the improper results from the participants. It is vital for the research that the participants have full knowledge about the research and a consent is received thereof. Participants do not only feel uncomfortable but can also experience agitation that will lead to disturbed results for the research and the essence of the research objective will be lost (Collins, et al., 2018).
Ethical considerations are basic principles that need to be respected by the researchers while carrying out any research because this does not only affect the participant or group of participants but also results in loss of objectivity of the research and therefore the research goes in vain. Participants must be respected with their confidentiality and full disclosure of the research means and objective must be communicated with the participants to receive their consent. This will make research results more accurate, authentic, and resourceful for further use (Collins, et al., 2018).
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Mayrhofer, R., Kuhbandner, C. and Lindner, C., 2020. The Practice of Experimental Psychology: An Inevitably Postmodern Endeavor. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.
Power, S.A., Velez, G., Qadafi, A. and Tennant, J., 2018. The SAGE model of social psychological research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(3), pp.359-372.