What Are The Differences Between Behaviourist And Humanistic Psychology?


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Matt Domm Profile
Matt Domm answered
The Behaviourist and Humanistic schools of psychology differ in their fundamental approaches to understanding the human mind.

Behaviourism is only concerned with externally-observable phenomena, which can be directly measured.

Humanism takes the opposite approach. Its proponents choose to focus on what goes on inside a person's mind, and what it is that makes them human.

What Is Behaviourist Psychology?
Behaviourism is based upon the notion that all human behaviour is shaped through a process called conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interactions with the environment.

According to behavioural psychology, behaviour can be observed in an obvious and systematic manner. There are two major forms of conditioning:

Classical Conditioning 

This method is used in behavioural training, when a stimulus that occurs naturally will be matched with a certain response. Then, a previously-neutral stimulus will be matched with one that occurs naturally.

Eventually, the previously-neutral stimulus will come to evoke a reaction, without the presence of the naturally-occurring stimulus, becoming known as a "conditioned stimulus" and a "conditioned response".

Operant Conditioning

This is sometimes called instrumental conditioning. It is a technique of learning that occurs through a subject receiving punishments and rewards for a particular behaviour.

Through operant conditioning, a psychological association will be created between a behaviour and the conditioned consequence of that behaviour.

What is Humanistic Psychology?

Humanistic psychology emphasises the individual as a human, rather than as a test subject. It is often referred to as 'positive psychology', because - rather than emphasising abnormalities - humanism focuses on what makes the individual 'normal'. It then uses this as a base for helping the person overcome their defective characteristics.

However, humanism doesn't ignore environmental influences, but recognises that external factors influence our internal thoughts and desires.

Humanistic psychology has also helped to remove some of the stigma that once attached to psychological disorders, and has made psychological therapies a more acceptable way for a normal and healthy individual to explore his or her potential.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Behaviourism, or the behaviourist perspective (Watson, Skinner) was focused more on how a subject reacts to its environment, and the importance of observable behaviour. We have learned that we are controlled by our environment and the resulting behaviour.

Areas such as Pavlovian/Classical conditioning and Operant conditioning are examples of the behaviourist approach to Psychology.

The humanistic perspective is more concerned with the personal nature of human experience, it deals with the human drive toward self-actualization, love, health, creativity, hope, etc.

It has closer ties to philosophy more than physiology. It encompasses popular theories like Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and work by Carl Rogers. It is more holistic than the behaviourist perspective.

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