Reductionism In Psychology

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Human Sciences is an area of knowledge which aims to explore and interpret the different explanations behind human behaviour such as its interrelationships or thoughts . However, humans are very complex systems and in many cases in order to study them we tend to simplify its complexity by breaking it up into smaller components rather than by exploring them as a whole. This way of producing knowledge, which is mainly used in identifying the causes behind our behaviour, is called reductionism. One example, of this approach is the use of models in Psychology for predicting and justifying different behaviours. The use of reductionism is clearly intended to allow us to understand different phenomenon by simplifying its complexity, nonetheless we…show more content…
Furthermore, as the British writer Douglas Adam said “if you try to take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a non-working cat”. This indicates, that when studying something by breaking it up into smaller components for reducing its complexity, we are loosing properties of the studied thing which could only be revealed by looking it as a whole (adopting a holistic approach) and so accuracy is being lost. As a psychology student, I have been capable of seeing that in many cases we tend to explain human behaviours by just attributing it to either the biological, cognitive or sociocultural levels of analysis. The main limitation of using this reductionist approach in Psychology is that human beings are all very complex systems and it’s impossible to explain one human behaviour by just attributing it to only one of the three levels of analysis, as there are probably more factors influencing it. For example, we attribute insomnia mainly to imbalances in the levels of the hormone melatonin in the body and so for…show more content…
However, we should consider the extent to which we should sacrifice accuracy in order to obtain knowledge. As discussed before, knowledge in the human sciences is extremely convoluted with so many variables, that nowadays it’s practically impossible to take them all into consideration. Consequently, if we want to further our understanding on this areas of knowledge we have to simplify things despite diminishing accuracy, as it’s impossible for us, in our present days, to consider all the external variables that affect the explanations behind the behaviours of human beings. Additionally, for reaching different explanations, which precisely represent the reality of human sciences, we have to progressively increase our understanding on this explanations. Thus, as we gain more and more knowledge and understanding, the level of accuracy will increase. This gradual increase in gaining knowledge is also what occurs while being educated in school. For instance, what I learnt in IGSCE Maths was much simpler and inaccurate in comparison to what I’m learning now IB Maths. However, what I had previously learnt was crucial for developing my understanding in this subject despite being rather inaccurate compared to now. This indicates, that as a first step we can partially sacrifice accuracy so that we can be simple for being capable of gaining
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