An approach is chiefly made up of basic principles with a common underlined structure. Approaches thus have a broader perspective; usually being explained by a number of theories as will be seen in this paper. For instance, the classical conditioning and the operant theories will be used to explain the reasons behind my uniqueness in regard to the psychoanalytic theory. Irrespective of the differences in such theories as supporting various approaches, they possess similar principles. Most of these approaches explain human behavior as resulting from the collective effects of our past, environment and genes. However, the humanistic approach uniquely explains human behavior with the notion that humans are capable of shaping their own destiny, as well as having free will to do what they would wish to (Davies & Bhugra, 2004).
In taking myself as a case study, I will seek to explain the origin and manifestation of my unique behavior: generosity, in the perspective of all the above approaches. In brief, I am 18 years old and my parents are divorced. I live with my mother and stepdad. I have trouble with being too generous, and I believe that my mother is extremely generous; therefore, this feature may have been acquired genetically. Equally, I am very close to my stepfather and my grandmother who together with my mother have taught me how to be generous by being a role model in my life, since most of the times I am inspired when I observe them practicing generosity. Let us now consider how psychologists that belong to various psychological approaches explain my behavior.
Psychoanalytic approach revolves around the people being motivated to act the way they do based on the effect of their psychic energy. This energy is said to motivate and trigger the actions that human take resulting into the behavior being manifested. The energy may even create a behavioral conflict in certain occasions. Just in the same way with the physical world’s energy, one can neither create nor destroy the psychic energy. Instead, it changes its state from a given form to another, for instance, from thinking to taking actions. The approach thus refers to the movement of this energy through one’s mind, its influence on one’s thoughts and behavior. It deals with the unconscious forces that are responsible for our personality (Shalev & Yerushalmi, 2009).
The Psychoanalytic theorists would thus explain my generosity as a result from the internal conflict within my unconscious mind which, in turn, emanates from the experiences I may have had while still was young. The id would want that I give all that I have, but the ego helps me remain with some portion for myself. This is from the perspective of Freud’s theory. Another psychologist, while basing his or her argument on the approach by Alfred Adler, may contend that I simply want to be generous to other people because of the fear of remaining isolated, since everyone around me is generous. He theorized that every human being is born with some sense of inferiority and is on a striving mission to achieve superiority. According to this psychologist, it is my feeling of inferiority that motivates me to act in a way that would make me successful, influential or popular (Wilber, 2002).
On the other hand, behaviorists would want to subject my behavior to tests. This would be done by subjecting me to situations, where I either have less of what is needed by another person or a person from whom I can gain nothing by helping. They would thus want to know how my environment (stimulus) affects my reactions (response). The psychologist would also want to find out some form of reinforcement that may have been put in place to help sustain and improve this behavior in me. For instance, he or she would want to know whether I was being rewarded or not, and if there were some other behaviors that were not reinforced or were punished, and therefore were rendered extinct. This way, the psychologist will be able to establish what exactly is responsible for my ability to maintain, as well as increase my generosity (Watrin & Darwich, 2012).
Furthermore, the psychologist who believes in the biological approach which is also being referred to as a medical approach in certain cases, will seek to explain my behavior in terms of a physical cause. His or her interpretation of my behavior will thus be different from that of psychoanalytic theorists, since the psychologist will believe that my behavior have resulted from nature and not nurture. Thus, he or she will want to know the possible effects of such structural factors like brain structure, genes, as well as my biochemistry on my generous behavior (Hayes, 2004).
The explanation would be that though my desire to show generosity to people may not be a result of a direct genetic link from my parents, the need for seeking this kind of stimulation may be resulting from the lower levels of my cortical arousal which receives its mediation from reticular articulating system structure in my brain. On the other hand, the continued manifestation of this characteristic may be explained based on adrenalin and other chemicals, such as endorphins, which make me enjoy and thus be addicted to show the abovementioned characteristics whenever an opportunity presents itself (Henriques, 2011). Additionally, the psychologist may want to conduct a brain scan to find out the particular areas of the brain that are active whenever I show up the unique characteristics. In other cases, he or she may want to administer certain drags to me and observe the kind of influence they will have on my behavior.
The cognitive model psychologists would try to draw on an analogy of a computer to explain how my unique characteristic is linked to the working of my brain. He or she will bring in the issue of the mental process occurring between stimulus and response that is not normally accounted for by the behaviorists. That is, the events transpiring within me immediately I see a person to whom I want to show generosity. The psychologist will pay attention to what happens between the time I receive information regarding the need of someone around me and the time that I act upon it by giving out whatever I have. In order for this to be possible, the psychologist will have to employ the approach of an information processing in which my mental functioning will be compared with the functioning of the computer hardware (Mahoney & Lyddon, 1988).
A relevant example of the cognitive explanation is that based on the appraisal theory. The psychologist relying on this theory in my situation would consider three stages which the proponents of the approach believe occur in between my stimulation and response. That is how I come to a decision on whether my action will be indifferent, good or bad. This will purely be the way in which I perceive the possible outcome of the action I take. At the second stage, the psychologist will consider the amount of that particular resource that I have at the exact time of showing the generous behavior. This would be significant in explaining the few instances where I may have shown a negative outcome by failing to give to anyone who was in need. Finally, the psychologist may want to carry out a reappraisal in order to be able to monitor and evaluate how I am coping and dealing with different situations, along with the moments that I have plenty to give out and those that I have just what is just enough for to cater for my needs. This is also clearly revealed in case I am interviewed or observed by the psychologists.
Finally, the humanistic psychologist will definitely differ from all the other psychologists based on the fact that the approach is against the notion that humans are not cable of understanding or controlling their behavior. The psychologist will instead want to identify the meaning that I attach to the unique behavior, since they believe that any human behavior is usually personal, as well as subjective. He or she will thus want to know what has made me develop the unique character in line with my personal goal, potential, as well as my unique sense of self (Barnet-Holmes & Barnet-Holmes, 2000). Like in the case of the experiment conducted by Skinner, the psychologists want to know what reinforces the trait based on my personal construction of the reward and whether I expect people’s approval and recognition. He or she may also want to identify whether I act thus mainly because I have a goal I want to achieve in life, just like those who believe in religious teachings. Equally, the psychologist may want to find out how I prioritize things. This will help in explaining whether the need to give has always outweighed other needs in my life.
I believe that the aspects of bringing up in my childhood experience, as in psychoanalytic theory, makes it applicable to my case, since I have been brought up by people who are all generous. Similarly, I also partly agree with the explanation that would be provided by a behaviorist psychologist, since I remember occasions when I was always rewarded whenever I showed concern for others when I was young. To a certain extent, I also agree that my behavior can be explained in accordance with a behaviorist psychologist’s approach, since it combines the influence of nurture to those of nature. Though such behavioral characteristics like generosity may not be genetic, such personality characteristics which normally predispose an individual to express such behaviors as mine might be genetic. Such characteristics may include introversion.
Though the biological approach can also apply in terms of my situation, this approach fails as it never takes into account the effect of my environment, expectations, and upbringing. It is also not easy to explain how my condition results from the imbalance of such chemicals as adrenalin and endorphins. Equally, the appraisal theory that is used by a cognitive psychologist can be applied to my situation, as well. This is because my effective response as well as emotional state have always affected what I experience. In many cases, I have found myself experiencing fear whenever I am unable to give out to anyone in need, especially in situations when I do not have enough even for me. This has always left me guilty.
In conclusion, it is evident that all the theorists would explain the origin and sustenance of my unique characteristics differently. However, all of them have some level of relevance in their explanations, though I believe that a psychoanalyst can normally have a better explanation based on the fact that my unique characteristics have largely been learnt from the environment, my parents and those who have been around me.
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