Psychological perspectives of smoking This essay will consider how each of the 5 psychological perspectives explain smoking. I will cover the psychodynamic, the behaviouristic, the biological, the cognitive and the humanistic approach. Psychodynamic approach The psychodynamic approach views behaviour in terms of past childhood experiences, and the influence of unconscious processes. There are five psychosexual stages in Freud’s theory, the first being the oral stage during which the infant focuses on satisfying hunger orally.
Sigmund Freud believed that during this stage of development the person can become fixated in the oral stage of development.
An infant’s pleasure and comfort centres on having things in the mouth during this psychodynamic stage. If the mother weaned too early, it may fail to be resolved later in life which can then lead to oral fixation. The action of putting something in their mouth (a cigarette) is what fulfils this oral fixation. Freud’s evidence for this was through his studies on ‘Little Hans’.
Hans’ father would exchange letters between him and Freud about little Hans’ dreams and fears and was able to place him into one of the five psychosexual stages. This study was flawed in the way that all of the material Freud used for the study was second hand. One of the strengths of the approach is that it provides a valuable insight into how early experiences or relationships can affect our adult personality, having said this the approach is too focused on sex and is biased. The behaviourist approach The behaviourist approach explains human behaviour as being learned from peers and the environment.
The approach suggests that smoking may be explained through learning through classical conditioning. Smoking may be acquired from their peers which results in acceptance and happiness, therefore smoking alone results in the conditioned response of pleasure. Young people may have observed others smoking and them being popular or getting praise, either their peers or through popular films and see those as successful or popular therefore may imitate this behaviour. Ivan Pavlov conducted an experiment where he had surgically implanted tubes into the cheeks of dogs to monitor the secretion of saliva whilst the dog was eating. Pavlov, 1902)
He noticed that the dog started to salivate before the food was put in its mouth. He then presented to food to the dog whilst playing the sound of a metronome, eventually the dog started to salivate when just hearing the metronome alone. This can be related to smoking using the following model: Conditioning diagram Peer groupsbefore conditioningacceptance and happiness Peer groups + Smokingduring conditioningacceptance and happiness Smokingafter conditioningacceptance and happiness One of the main strengths of the behaviourist approach is that it focuses only on behaviour that can be observed and manipulated.
Therefore, this approach has proved very useful in experiments under laboratory conditions. On the other hand this has been criticized for suggesting that most human behaviour is mechanical, and that human behaviour is simply the product of stimulus-response behaviours. The biological approach The biological approach looks at our genetics to construct a reason why we act the way we do and why we develop abnormal behaviours. This approach suggests that the reason people smoke is a biological addiction from a chemical in cigarettes called nicotine.
Nicotine is a chemical that alters the brains behaviour by creating an addiction to nicotine which causes smokers to crave a cigarette as it gives them the nicotine they need to fulfil this addiction. When smokers try to stop, the loss of nicotine changes the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline. This can make them feel anxious, depressed and irritable. Evidence for this has been given by the NHS. On average 20% of adults in the UK have an addiction to smoking. (NHS, 2012) As this approach is solely based on empirical evidence from a biological perspective; it relies on hard evidence giving a clear analysis.
The approach however, doesn’t take into consideration, thoughts feelings and the effect of the environment. The cognitive approach The cognitive approach focuses on mental processes, perception, and language as a way of explaining and understanding human behaviour. The approach focuses on the importance of mental processes such as beliefs, desires and motivation in determining behaviour. People who smoke may see smoking as doing something that is considered a taboo thing to do giving them a certain enjoyment by ‘staring the face of danger’.
Evidence can be shown for this in the suspension bridge ‘Love on a suspension bridge’ experiment conducted by Dutton & Aron in 1974 . (Billingham, 2008) In this study, an attractive female experimenter approached men as they crossed either a high, rickety suspension bridge or a low safe bridge and asked them to answer some questions and write a brief story in relation to a picture and to call the experimenter for the results. Men who walked across the high bridge were more likely to write a more sexual story and were more likely to call the experimenter.
This suggests that when the subjects heart rate was raised they were more likely to have an attraction to something. This approach is good because it uses lab experiments rather than speculation but is also considered as being too basic and deterministic I. E. one input, a decision is made and then an output created and doesn’t take in to consideration any other effects. The humanistic approachCongruence diagram The humanistic approach emphasises the study of the whole person rather than studying individual components. It views every individual as being unique. The main concept of the humanistic approach is to reach congruence.
This is a state of consistency between the ‘real self’ and the ‘ideal self. This can be explained in the following diagram. The closer you are to reaching your idea l self, the more over lapped the two circles become. Smokers smoke to feel good. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs this is part of the self-actualisation process. (Billingham, 2008) This is their unique desire to achieve their highest potential as individuals. The approach is effective as it is based on free will and the individuals own experiences. On the other hand the approach is too subjective and lacks scientific research to support its ideas.
References Billingham, (2008) Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour. (5th ed. ) London: Hodder Arnold Pavlov, (1902) The Work Of The Digestive Glands. London: Griffin. NHS. (2012) NHS smoking statistics. [Online] Available from: http://www. ic. nhs. uk/statistics-and-data-collections/health-and-lifestyles/smoking/statistics-on-smoking–england-2012 [accessed 29 November 2012] city college plymouth. (2012) moodle combined studies. [Online] Available from: http://moodle. cityplym. ac. uk/course/view. php? id=2761 [accessed 29 November 2012]
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Psychological Perspectives of Smoking. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/psychological-perspectives-of-smoking/