Biological issues and debates: Reductionism (Evaluation (Raine et al…
Biological issues and debates:
The belief that human behaviour can be explained by reducing it down into simpler components.
Looking closely at the parts that make up our different systems --> choose the simplest explanation
Environmental Reductionism (psychological/middle level)
Psychologically Reductionist Examples
Memory can also be considered at a psychological level, cognitive psychologists examines aspect of memory.
Behaviourist approach argues phobias are caused through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning.
Also known as stimulus response reductionism, where behaviour can be reduced to building blocks of S-R (stimulus-response) associations and complex behaviours are a series of S-R chains.
Raine et al (1997)
Carried out PET scans on over 40 murderers' brains and found differences between their brain functions compared to normal control groups.
Denies importance of alternative explanations for violence as put forward by Behaviourists and SL Theorists and has serious ethical concerns about selective breeding.
Finding excess dopamine, leading to hope of a cure for the disorder.
Denies importance of the environment in influencing the onset or development of schizophrenia. So far no cure has been found for it and there is no way to predict its onset.
Psychologists argue biological reductionism can lead to errors of understanding as it ignores complexity of human behaviour.
Treating this type of condition with drugs in the belief that the condition is nothing more than a neurochemical imbalance, mistaking the symptoms of it for its true cause.
Success rates of drug therapies are variable, the purely biological understanding seems inadequate and explanations which consider multiple factors are suitable.
Social Learning Theory
Bandura showed how behaviour is modelled from others in the environment. This is reductionist as it denies the importance of biology and individual differences, as some people appear to copy aggressive role models whilst some don't.
Assumes all behaviour comes from early childhood and denies importance of environmental influences in later life.
Biological Reductionism (the lowest level)
Behaviour is reduced to a physical level, explained in terms of neurons, neurotransmitters, hormones, brain structure etc.
Biologically Reductionist Examples
Memory can be considered in terms of biological components.
The biological approach claims OCD is caused by higher levels of dopamine and lower levels of serotonin.
reducing down complex behaviours
into simple terms we are able to measure those behaviours more
accurately and scientifically
thus providing more
denies complex interactions
both internally and externally, and has not led us to be able to predict, either the onset of
genetically inherited behaviours
, or likely behavioural actions of individuals.
Reductionist approaches have advantages in breaking down complex phenomena into smaller components, which only becomes a problem if
scientists try to claim too much from their research results
by implying it can be
to all human behaviour in all circumstances.