Psychology Study Material: The Humanistic Approach and the Cognitive Approach

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Cognitive Approaches to Learning

The approaches that focus upon the thought processes underlying learning. Latent Learning and cognitive maps (Edward Tolman) ; Tolman talked about the ‘cognitive maps’ ; it is not necessary to have an association between stimulus and response; a person can learn without showing any apparent response; in other words, learning and performance are not the same.

Cognitive Approaches to Learning

Social learning/Observational learning and Modelling (Albert Bandura) : a major portion of our learning is based upon learning by observation.

The Humanistic Approach and the Cognitive Approach

  • Faced with a choice between psychoanalysis and behaviourism, many psychologists in the 1950s and 1960s sensed a void in psychology՚s conception of human nature. Freud had drawn attention to the darker forces of the unconscious, and Skinner was interested only in the effects of reinforcement on observable behaviour.
  • Humanistic psychology emerged out of a desire to understand the conscious mind, free will, human dignity, and the capacity for self-reflection and growth. An alternative to psychoanalysis and behaviourism, humanistic psychology became known as “the third force.”

It is the approach that focused on:

  • The idea that people are in control of their life.
  • The person or the self and personal growth and development are to be emphasized.
  • The humanistic approach includes a number of other theories with the same or similar orientation e. g. , ‘existential’ and ‘phenomenological’ psychology.

Basic Assumptions of the Humanistic Approach

  • In order to understand behaviour, we must consider the subjective experience of the person.
  • Neither past experience nor current circumstances constrain the behaviour of the person.

Humanistic vs Psychodynamic and Behaviourist Approaches

  • Humanistic approach emphasizes the person, the psychodynamic stresses unconscious determinants, and the behaviourists focus upon external determinants.
  • Humanistic approach is more optimistic than the other two in the sense that it believes in the person՚s ability and will.
  • According to the humanistic thinkers, limiting we to observable behaviour and external stimuli alone is ignoring the thinking-feeling person, and that is dehumanizing.
  • Free will: Humans possess the ability to make decisions about their life

Central Themes of Humanistic Approach

  • Human beings are capable of shaping their own destiny.
  • They can think and design their course of action and can follow it in the way they like.
  • People can overcome or minimize the environmental and intrinsic influences
  • “Here and now” is important.
  • “Wholeness” or “completeness” of the personality is important rather than its separate, disintegrated, structural parts.

Humanistic Approach Emphasizes

  • Individual՚s freedom in directing his future
  • Capacity for personal growth
  • Intrinsic worth
  • Potential for self-fulfilment

Emergence of the Humanistic Approach

  • Emerged in reaction to the perceived limitations of psychodynamic theories, especially
  • Psychoanalysis, as well as the staunch behaviourist way of understanding and interpreting behaviour. Individuals like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow strongly felt that the approaches prevalent at that time could not adequately address issues like the meaning of behaviour, and the nature of healthy growth. The founders of humanistic psychology asserted that people need a value system a system of understanding, or frame of orientation due to which life gets a meaning and purpose.

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