Differences Between Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis

Differences Between Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis

Shawn Gray
MW 2:30
The theories of Behaviorism and Psychoanalysis are nearly complete opposites. Behaviorists believe that almost every human emotion is “conditioned by habit and can be learned or unlearned” ("behaviorism," 2012). Whereas   Psychoanalysts believe that everything humans do is completely controlled by the unconscious mind at some level.
“When a human being acts--does something with arms, legs or vocal cords--there must be an invariable group of antecedents serving as a "cause" of the act” (Watson 5). This is the basis of Behaviorism as stated by one of the originators of the theory. They believe that everything humans and animals do was learned at some point in time, starting at the embryotic level, and has either been unlearned or modified in some way, and that all of these behaviors can be studied by “verifiable observation” just like any of the other sciences (Watson 2). The very basis of Behaviorism makes it very easy to study and quantify its results.
Psychoanalysts, on the other hand, believe that everything we do is in one way or another controlled by our subconscious mind. Freud divided the psychoanalytic theory into 3 parts: id, ego, and superego. The id is the deepest level of the unconscious, and is dominated by the pleasure principal. The object being immediate gratification of instinctual drives. The superego, starts with childhood, and acts like a sensor to what the id wants to do, based on responses from parents and social acceptance. The Ego is part of the id modified by contact with the external world and mediates between the subconscious forces and the outside world. There is very little that can be done to study any results from Psychoanalytic theory since it is not possible to observe in any way the subconscious or any of Freud’s theoretical parts of it. ("psychoanalysis").

Works Cited.
"Behaviorism." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2012. Questia. Web. 18 Sept. 2012.\
"Psychoanalysis." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th...

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