Concept of learning psychology
I had been a fan of the television series Bones, and of the lead character Temperance Brennan but not for her crime solving abilities but in how she sees the world and everything in it using anthropological perspectives - Concept of learning psychology introduction. When she is confronted with problems and situations she is unfamiliar with, she relies on her training and education to understand and analyze the situation. I thought that since Brennan was a genius in her field, she probably knew every theory and perspective in forensic anthropology and normal people like me would not have the capacity to do so. When I learned that I would be having psychology this term, I was excited since I had been fascinated with the understanding of human behavior, I wanted to learn why people do the things they do, or how they think and feel. I thought that after taking this course, I would probably have a better handle of human behavior.
It turned out that I would be enthralled with the different perspectives and theories that psychology has in understanding human behavior. I believed that there was only one psychological perspective or way of understanding human behavior, but I was wrong. The different perspectives and theories in psychology provide us with different ways of viewing the world and in making sense of the complexity of humans. At this point, I now understand how Brennan could use anthropological perspectives in her daily interactions and experiences. As I read and absorbed the course readings and worked with my classmates, I begun to develop an appreciation for a number of theories and perspectives that somehow changed the way I understand my relationships and social network.
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As fascinating as the different perspectives in psychology are, the one that significantly impacted my life and the way I think and feel as person is the social cognitive perspective. Using this perspective, I am now more able to understand myself, my family and my relationships towards them and to other people. The socialization process significantly influences the personality, social skills and self-concept of the person (Coon, 2008). I grew up in a family that placed great importance in education, in traditional jobs and in having a family. I always thought that these were how most people viewed their lives, only to find out that I was too traditional and conservative in the realities of our present society. But, I could not blame my parents for inculcating these values and philosophies in me and my siblings because it was what they were also brought up with. What I find important in this perspective is that although we are products of social norms and expectations, the human mind has the capacity to think and choose (Franzoi, 2007).
My mother had been nurturing and loving, my father had been strict and unaffectionate. If I based my concept of parenting with my experience, I could either follow my parent’s example or do something different. Generally, all of us children had turned out well as adults compared to most of our friends, and I could argue that my children would also turn out okay if I followed my parent’s parenting styles. But, I personally want to have a close relationship with my children and I think children nowadays are different because the society they are growing in is different from what I had, so maybe my parent’s way of parenting would not work anymore. Thus, I have chosen to become more involved in my children’s life than my parents had been in mine. The beauty of the social cognitive perspective is that it combine the influences that our social world have on us and how the human mind influences our decisions, our relationships and ultimately our social world.
I could also say that Freud was a genius and that although most of his theories had been debunked because it did not hold up to scientific scrutiny (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2006), I believe that Freud had been correct in some ways. The psychosexual theory of development of Freud to the uninitiated like me sounds impossible and I had not given it much attention as it seemed too far-fetched. But with his theory of personality, I was quickly taken in. Freud said that most of adult difficulties and adjustment problems stem from childhood experiences (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2006). We often hear that most abusive spouses had also been a victim of abuse in their childhood.
Why Freud’s concept is important to me is how it acknowledges the impact that childhood experiences have on the future of a person. I had read that children who grow up in dysfunctional families have difficulty in their adulthood in terms of becoming well adjusted and mentally healthy individuals. In one of our family trips, my parents had been arguing over something trivial and were shouting at each other while we listened in the back seat. Then, my father lost his cool and hit the breaks so hard we were slammed at the back. After that incident, my brother would cry at the sound of loud noises even if it was rock music blaring on the radio or the busy honk of cars in the street. As we got older, he did overcome it and could tolerate loud noises again, but he easily gets affected when he hear people arguing. It may not be as traumatic as Freud had anticipated but the potential of childhood experiences as precursors of later behavior is very real.
Moreover, Freud’s concept of id, ego and superego as mental states that govern human behavior and personality (Gazzaniga & Heatherton, 2006) is very real to me. Personally I had experienced being controlled by something irrational and childlike as the id, and how a form of conscience had been battling with my inner self. I also believe that defense mechanism as explained by Freud as a mean of diffusing the anxiety brought about internal conflicts. How often do we resort to sour graping when we cannot have what we want so much? I remember when we were given assignments in this course a while ago; I really wanted to work on a specific topic because it was one of my interests. But it was given to another group and I said that it was better because the topic was boring although at first I was very eager to get that topic.
Seriously, people do not know that they are using Freud’s defense mechanisms as a means of coping with anxiety, how many victims of abuse had used repression to believe that they were not abused and that they had normal lives. I am personally guilty of using rationalization to cope with stressful events (Lahey, 2007). When I lost a dear friend to a freak accident, and no matter how senseless her death was, I coped with the loss by believing that she would only be in a vegetative state if she lived, it was better for her not to suffer. My mother tells me that I rationalize too much; I try to explain everything to make it logical and acceptable. I have a hard time accepting that sometimes things just happen and I have to make sense of it because I simply cannot believe that life happens without any purpose. The more I think about it, the more Freud makes sense and I am not rationalizing at all.
As a dedicated worker, I have grown fond of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and motivation theory (Lahey, 2007). The thing I liked about this theory is its simplicity and yet it is comprehensive and can adequately explain why we work, why we want to feel welcomed and important in our organizations and why we strive for something greater than what we have at present. According to Maslow, people has to satisfy the most basic of needs before they get to think of other needs, and it is true. In the present economic crises, the main focus of most workers including me and my coworkers is to keep our jobs, and to provide for the basic necessities such as food, shelter, electricity and fuel. These concerns all correspond to the physiological and safety needs. In better times, I would have thought about going on a vacation or having a party for Thanksgiving so I could be with my friends and family which in essence would fulfill my belongingness and love needs.
I have a positive relationship with my coworkers and I am thankful that I belong to an organization that promotes a culture of togetherness and cooperation. I had a job offer a while back and although the pay was good and it was a challenging job, I turned it down because I could see that the people there was indifferent and the company promoted competition and individual prestige. It was different from what I had been used to, and personally, I would not thrive in that kind of work environment. I suppose belongingness needs are important to me and that being a part of something greater than ourselves is fundamentally being human. When I was younger, I never really thought much about getting another degree or pursuing further studies, but after I gained stability in my position, I was familiar with my tasks and I had the same responsibilities each year, I begun entertaining the need for further growth. I am a dedicated worker, I try to give the best in everything that I do, and have earned me a number of commendations although I was happy to be doing it, esteem needs tell me that in some way or another, I was fulfilling that need. I had no illusions when I decided to study again, I did not do so in order to advance my position or to have higher pay, although I admit that it is a bonus, but what I am after is how going to school can help me grow and become better at what I do. Maslow was quick to point out that self-actualization is the highest need of all and that we engage in self-actualization all through-out our lives and very few people actually attain it (Weiten, 2007). But I do believe that Maslow was trying to say that self-actualization is the lifelong process of growing and gaining wisdom through life experiences.
The behaviorist perspective at present is probably the most widely applied and the most American of all the perspectives. Its impact to me is not so much as how pragmatic it is and how it is in keeping with empiricism but to the potential it holds in the field of education, training and learning (Weiten, 2007). Skinner’s operant conditioning is highly technical and sometimes I get lost with all the terminologies, but what I am most interested in is in how the correct pairing of reinforcements such as reward and punishment and the conditioned behavior could lead to more effective learning especially when it involves behavior (Weiten, 2007). I was working with a team and there was one member who was not putting in as much as work as the other members were. I had been trying to find ways to change his behavior, but all of the things I had been doing was ineffective. Looking back, I could have provided the right amount of reinforcements such as rewarding positive behavior and giving negative reinforcement to undesirable behavior. More like giving kids candies after completing a house chore and grounding them when they misbehave. I also realized how sometimes we reinforce negative behavior without any idea that we are doing it. When my nephew was in his terrible twos, he would cry whenever he wanted something that was not given to him. My sister tried controlling his behavior, she ignored his cries, but after sometime he would make weird noises that sounded like a person about to vomit. My sister would then rush to him and pick him up. We were not aware that by then, my sister was already reinforcing the child’s vomiting. It came to a point when he would vomit every time he was ignored. Now, I cannot help but be amazed at how complex human behavior is, and how much a part of our influence to others is governed by our own behavior.
A month from now, I would probably be more confident with using psychological perspectives in my daily life and interactions. When I watch Bones, I would probably be listening more to Dr. Sweets than Brennan and I would also be refuting Brennan’s argument that psychology is not a science. I would also become more observant of other people, more curious about their motivations, their family backgrounds and their ideas about life and the world around them. I also might use conditioning to encourage positive behaviors in my children or with the people I work with. Lastly, I would also continue reading psychology books, and those that examine behavior using psychological perspectives.
Coon, D. (2008). Psychology: A modular approach to mind and behavior. (10th ed.). Belmont,
Franzoi, S. (2007). Psychology: a journey of discover 3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog
Gazzaniga, M. S., & Heatherton, T. F. (2006). Psychological science 2nd ed. New York: W. W.
Lahey, B. (2007). Introduction to psychology: gateways to mind and behavior 9th ed. Boston:
Weiten, W. (2007). Psychology themes and variations 7th ed. Boston: Wadsworth/Thomson