Psychoanalysis Vs Behaviourism

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Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism are two contrasting personality theories, each with strong viewpoints on how one’s behaviour is created and maintained. Through this essay, it is going to be determined as to which personality theory can best describe the causes and maintenance of the behaviour of the Lotter siblings, who murdered their parents in 2008. Both will be used to explain the situation, coming to a conclusion as to which theory can best describe their behaviour which resulted in parricide. Human behaviour is very complex and challenging to understand, categorise and analyse as there are so many interdependent factors to consider. Both Psychoanalysis and Behaviourism were considered highly influential theories in the early-to-mid-1900’s, …show more content…

Operant conditioning involves responses to the environment which are voluntary, and that if positively reinforced, they will be repeated. There are two kinds of reinforcers- primary and secondary. Primary reinforcers are those which are fundamental to life, such as food, warmth, water, affection. Secondary reinforcers depend on learning and may be different between people, but they expand on one’s biological needs. Examples include money, praise, attention and getting good grades (Weiten, 2014). Operant conditioning is therefore the association between responses and their consequences. Thorndike’s principle states that favourable consequences are more likely to promote the behaviour whereas unfavourable consequences cause the person to stop that response/behaviour (Meyer et al., 2003). Operant conditioning in the case of the Lotter siblings’ behaviour would therefore propose that if their parents were very domineering and/or authoritarian, they would have been positively reinforced for listening to them and punished when they did not. This may have distorted their personality development in the interests of obtaining positive responses for submissive behaviour. If they were punished for certain behaviours, then they would have become repressed in order to obey their parents to be positively reinforced …show more content…

The antecedent/precursor will instigate the behaviour which will then be promoted, changed or inhibited based upon the consequences of such behaviours (Weiten, 2014). Referring to the Lotter case, the children may have been told to do something, and if they didn’t then they may have been shouted at and given a smack, which would have instigated fear. The next time the children were told to do something, or not to do something, they would have immediately felt the fear which was conditioned into them. Living a life of fear and anxiety pays a toll on one’s psyche, which could well have led the siblings to the murder their parents as a result of psychological instability (this is more psychodynamic theory – anything that is deep in the psyche or causes psychological

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