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Theories in Psychology

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Attachment theory. For infants and toddlers, the "set-goal" of the attachment behavioural system is to maintain or achieve proximity to attachment figures, usually the parents.

Attachment theory

Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term interpersonal relationships between humans. However, ‘attachment theory is not formulated as a general theory of relationships. It addresses only a specific facet’ (Waters et al. 2005: 81): how human beings respond within relationships when hurt, separated from loved ones, or perceiving a threat.[1] In infants, attachment as a motivational and behavioral system directs the child to seek proximity with a familiar caregiver when they are alarmed, with the expectation that they will receive protection and emotional support.

Attachments between infants and caregivers form even if this caregiver is not sensitive and responsive in social interactions with them.[5] This has important implications. Infant attachment[edit] Behaviors[edit] Attribution (psychology) Attribution is a concept in social psychology addressing the processes by which individuals explain the causes of behavior and events; attribution theory is an umbrella term for various models that attempt to explain those processes.[1] Psychological research into attribution began with the work of Fritz Heider in the early part of the 20th century, subsequently developed by others such as Harold Kelley and Bernard Weiner.

Attribution (psychology)

Heider subsequently extended his ideas to the question of how people perceive each other, and in particular how they account for each other's behavior, person perception. Motives played an important role in Heider's model: "motives, intentions, sentiments ... the core processes which manifest themselves in overt behavior". Heider distinguished between personal causality – such as offering someone a drink – and impersonal causality such as sneezing, or leaves falling. Cognitive dissonance.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.[1][2] Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency.

Cognitive dissonance

When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to attempt to reduce this dissonance, as well as actively avoiding situations and information which are likely to increase it.[1] Relationship between cognitions[edit] Individuals can adjust their attitudes or actions in various ways. Theory of mind. Definition[edit] Theory of mind is a theory insofar as the mind is not directly observable.[1] The presumption that others have a mind is termed a theory of mind because each human can only intuit the existence of his/her own mind through introspection, and no one has direct access to the mind of another.

Theory of mind

It is typically assumed that others have minds by analogy with one's own, and this assumption is based on the reciprocal nature of social interaction, as observed in joint attention,[4] the functional use of language,[5] and the understanding of others' emotions and actions.[6] Having a theory of mind allows one to attribute thoughts, desires, and intentions to others, to predict or explain their actions, and to posit their intentions. Theory of mind appears to be an innate potential ability in humans; one requiring social and other experience over many years for its full development. Object permanence. Object permanence is the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be observed (seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way).

Object permanence

Poverty of the stimulus. In linguistics, the poverty of the stimulus (POS) is the assertion that natural language grammar is unlearnable given the relatively limited data available to children learning a language, and therefore that this knowledge is supplemented with some sort of innate linguistic capacity.

Poverty of the stimulus

As such, the argument strikes against empiricist accounts of language acquisition and is usually construed as being in favor of linguistic nativism.[1] Nativists claim that humans are born with a specific representational adaptation for language that both funds and limits their competence to acquire specific types of natural languages over the course of their cognitive development and linguistic maturation. The argument is now generally used to support theories and hypotheses of generative grammar. The term "poverty of the stimulus" was coined by Noam Chomsky in his work Rules and Representations.[2] The thesis emerged from several of Chomsky's writings on the issue of language acquisition. Self-fulfilling prophecy. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Although examples of such prophecies can be found in literature as far back as ancient Greece and ancient India, it is 20th-century sociologist Robert K. Merton who is credited with coining the expression "self-fulfilling prophecy" and formalizing its structure and consequences. In his 1948 article Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, Merton defines it in the following terms: The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.

This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. History of the concept[edit] Merton's concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy stems from[according to whom?] Merton took the concept a step further[according to whom?] Applications[edit] Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

Stockholm syndrome

These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.[1][2] The FBI's Hostage Barricade Database System shows that roughly 8 percent of victims show evidence of Stockholm syndrome.[3] Stockholm syndrome can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding, which does not necessarily require a hostage scenario, but which describes "strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other. "[4] One commonly used hypothesis to explain the effect of Stockholm syndrome is based on Freudian theory.