Free The Science of Mind and Behavior Essay Sample

Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. This means that it aims at describing, understanding and predicting human behavior. In order to study the relationship between human behavior such as violence and its cause (alcohol) a psychologist may use several research methods such as case study, naturalistic observation, survey research and correlation research method. The most appropriate method that I would use to study the relationship between alcohol and violence is the survey method.

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Surveys method allows one to collect information about human behavior through interviews and questionnaires with the selected participants. The questionnaires are anonymous therefore allowing the subjects to be more sincere with their responses. This plays an important role, especially when it deals with personal matters which are touchy such as violence and alcohol addiction. Survey is also suitable as compared to case study in which the subject may alter their addictive and violent behavior to be socially acceptable when they realize that they are being observed which may create false data. The survey method is also advantageous as it is an easy way to gather data on the subject's behavior as one can easily create and distribute a survey as compared to naturalistic observation, case study and ethnography. One is able to analyze data statistically and generalize the results hence enabling the researcher to draw a credible conclusion on the common behaviors displayed by alcoholics such as violence.

There are various drawbacks to this method. Survey requires participants to self report through the questionnaires. This means that the surveyor relies upon the subjects to tell the truth which they might not do due to fear of their weaknesses being exposed.

A surveyor must take in to account various ethical considerations when conducting the research. The study should not cause emotional discomfort to the subject as in the case of Stanley Milgrams experiment where it was considered unethical to make the subjects believe that they were administering painful electric shocks to other people. Researchers are required to abide to ethical norms and should not cause harm to the subject, for example they should maintain confidentiality of the information obtained in case a person confesses that alcohol arouses violent behavior in them.

Difference between negative and positive reinforcement.

Reinforcement refers to strengthening or increasing a particular response though removal or delivery of a stimulus or an event. Positive reinforcement is the process in which a particular stimulus is delivered after a certain behavior, therefore encouraging reoccurrence of that behavior. This stimulus is referred to as a reinforcer (reward). For example, I used to fear answering question which the teacher posed in the classroom until one day he randomly picked me to provide an answer to a question that he had asked. Even though I had no answer at the time I gave it a try but I was dead wrong. He asked the class to clap for me (positive reinforce) for giving it a try and this had a positive impact as I was encouraged to answer more questions in class.

On the other hand, negative reinforcement refers to the process which involves reduction or removal of an unwanted and negative stimulus which occurs after a behavior, hence strengthening the behavior. Negative reinforcement deals with responding to an aversive or annoying stimulus. The following example illustrates how my behavior of giving gifts was negatively reinforced. My younger brother was angry at me and did not speak to me. To escape this unpleasant situation, I bought him a toy car (negative reinforcement) which led to the removal of the unwanted and aversive situation as he began to speak to me again. This negatively reinforced me as I will give him another gift once he is angry at me in the future. It's important to understand that both positive and negative reinforce have the same effect of strengthening or reinforcing behavior.

The following ethical considerations need to be taken into account when behavior is being shaped. One must apply common sense for instance; you cannot teach a person how to safely cook without burning themselves by placing their hand on a hot stove so that they can see what would happen. Nor can you reward somebody by allowing them to do whatever they want to do and considering it as being positive.

Theory of psychological thoughts

The theory of psychological thought that best fits with my own thinking about psychology is the behavioral psychology or Behaviorism. The idea behind this theory is that all behaviors are learned through the outcomes of past experiences. This involves reinforcement and the type of reinforcement depends on our view of the consequences and experiences which may be in our favor or not. This means that the experiences that I go through shape my reaction in similar situations in the future. The other influential theory on me is the cognitive psychology which concentrates on our internal mental processes such as decision making skills and problem solving skills which also originate from our own past experiences that might have worked or not worked.

These theories apply to my understanding of psychology as I strongly believe that they have helped to explain the origins and causes of our feelings and thought. By understanding this I am able to make decisions that do not bring about unfavorable circumstances.

Psychological disorders and their treatment

I would consider the following symptoms if I were a councilor tasked with treatment of a patient who is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Racing heartbeat, shaking, terror, difficulty in breathing, chills, hot flashes, nausea or dizziness, sweating or trembling, fears of death or going crazy. My diagnoses of this condition would be a panic disorder. This is because the source of this disorder is hard to identify. I would recommend a treatment plan which involves all this aspects of treatment; physiological, psychological and physical. Where the symptoms are primarily physical e.g. confusion, sweating, tremors, blushing and palpitations I would diagnose this to be social phobia or social anxiety. Medications accompanied with self help techniques and therapy can be used when treating this disorder accompanied with changing one's life style.


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