Education Studies with Psychology and Counselling (CX83

Current debates in Psychology

Psychological / October 20, 2017

  • One of the central questions in psychology (and philosophy) concerns the mind/body problem.

  • is the mind part of the body, or the body part of the mind? If they are distinct, then how do they interact? And which of the two is in charge?
  • This debate within psychology is concerned with the extent to which particular aspects of behavior are a product of either inherited (i.e. genetic) or acquired (i.e. learned) characteristics.

  • Nature is that which is inherited / genetic. Nurture which refers to all environmental influences after conception, i.e. experience.
  • Reductionism is the belief that human behavior can be explained by breaking it down into smaller component parts.
  • Holism refers to any approach that emphasizes the whole rather than their constituent parts. In other words ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
  • The term “nomothetic” comes from the Greek word “nomos” meaning “law”. Psychologists who adopt this approach are mainly concerned with studying what we share with others. That is to say in establishing laws or generalizations. .
  • The term “idiographic” comes from the Greek word “idios” meaning “own” or “private”. Psychologists interested in this aspect of experience want to discover what makes each of us unique.
  • Science uses an empirical approach. Empiricism (founded by John Locke) states that the only source of knowledge comes through our senses – e.g. sight, hearing etc.
  • Common sense, then, is something which everybody uses in their day-to-day lives, guides decisions and influences how we interact with one another.
  • The determinist approach proposes that all behavior is determined and thus predictable.

  • Free will assumes that we are free to choose our behavior, in other words we are self determined e.g.. people can make a free choice as to whether to commit a crime or not (unless they are a child or they are insane).