Reductionism / Holism Debate (Research - Reductionism (Maguire et al…
Reductionism / Holism Debate
Defining Principle - Reductionism
The idea that researchers break down a behaviour into its constituent parts and analyse the relative contribution that factor makes.
More scientific as it looks to establish cause and effect.
Easier to find empirical evidence when investigation is focused.
Over-simplifies complex phenomena.
Lacks construct validity.
Defining Principle - Holism
The idea that the 'whole is greater than the sum of its parts' and that in order to understand behaviour researchers should consider how different factors at each level contribute to behaviour, rather than trying to reduce these further.
More face validity.
More likely to explain why things happen.
Gives a more complete picture of human experience.
Too subjective and open to interpretation.
Tends to neglect the majority of approaches in psychology.
Research - Reductionism
Maguire et al (2000) - Proposes that spatial navigation is localised in the hippocampus and that neural activity in this region enables individuals to navigate their environment effectively.
Raine (1997) - Explained anti-social behaviours can be reduced to brain abnormalities and these can determine behavioural responses.
Moray (1959) - Reduced the process of attention down to a simple model of dichotic listening.
Kohlberg (1968) - Took complex process of moral development and reduced it down to a product of biological maturation e.g. age.
Research - Holism
Simons and Chabris (1999) - Investigated a number of factors that interact together to impact on attention e.g. how dynamic an event is, saliency of information, whether an event is unexpected or not, difficulty of primary task etc.
Bandura et al (1961) - Recognised that a number of factors impact on the likelihood of a child learning behaviour from a model such as sex of model, sex of child, type of behaviour, level of reinforcement, etc.
Freud (1909) - Identified a series of childhood events that contributed to Hans' phobia of horses.
Lee et al (1997) - Concluded that a number of interacting factors influence a child's moral development including social and cultural norms and a child's own experience, as well as age.