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Social Theories

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Social Psychology: Social Psychology is a discipline of Social Science which tells us how judgments, emotions and opinions of people are influenced or manipulated by the presence of other human beings be it physical presence or implied presence.

Social Psychology is different from other areas of Social Sciences because it uses scientific methods and experimental observation to understand social experience and human behavior.

Some of the theoretical approaches used in social psychology are:

Behaviorism:

Behaviorism studies laws that regulate human behavior by studying aspects of the environment which are not generally observable (e.g.; stimuli, responses and reinforcements) rather than discernible aspects such as intentions and feelings. The phenomenon of behaviorism believes that if a person’s surroundings are changed, this will consequently change his thoughts and behavior. The system of behaviorism is based on rewards and punishments. Behaviorists believe that if teachers provide positive reinforcement, or rewards, whenever students perform well, this will increase their behavior positively. The same notion applies to punishments. If a child is not eating properly at lunchtime and the mother threatens to take his/her sweets in return, this will decrease his behavior in the negative aspect. Behaviorists say that people act according to internally or externally generated physical stimuli.

Cognitive Approach

Those subscribing to the cognitive approach believe what we learn is shown in our thinking processes related to memory, problem solving and languages. These processes are as important as environmental factors.

Processes known as mediators (the come between the external stimulus and the response) Cognitive Psychologists take interest in WHY we forget or HOW we remember.

Humans gather information, or learn. Learning is flexible; navigating a city can be based on landmarks, or on the map of the city, the latter allowing the flexibility to re-route in traffic, etc. This learning affects our behaviour. Memory also affects behaviour. Memory is fed into out brain through experience and knowledge. When need arises, humans recall the relevant information. (Memories)

Critical Analysis

Cognitive and behavioural theories are both significant in their own respect. However, after studying both the cognitive and behavioural theory, one can say that the cognitive approach is more widely applicable to the areas of human life because learning and retention of memory are widely prevalent in every aspect of human life. This is because it has more relevance and aptitude in our daily lives.

Phenomenology

It is the philosophical and idealistic examination and description of conscious experience in all its forms without paying any heed to the face whether what is experienced is objectively real.

Phenomenology is a branch of human science which seeks to investigate and describe phenomena as they present themselves in their material or tangible form in order to find the meaning of the phenomena. Phenomenology essentially takes its roots from philosophy. It is a method where the observer needs to have an attitude of openness to let the unexpected meanings come forward. A person is a complete being, inclusive with past experiences, attitudes, beliefs and values. They live in a world of experience, complete with both cultural and social influence.

Phenomenology uncovers the concealed layers of social, ethical and cultural restrictions behind a particular phenomenon that a person comes into contact with.

Phenomenology does not produce new information but rather interprets a meaning which has already been understood.

Conclusion

This research paper was about exploring and investigating the various theories of Social Sciences. The idea was to explain the various conceptions of Social Sciences and then critically analyse them. What presumptions are being made? What theories are being formulated? The idea of this research paper was to critically analyse these theories in the practical basis of human life. The method used to examine the theories was the descriptive approach which says that all cultures cannot be studied similarly. All the theories have been critically examined keeping in consideration, the descriptive approach.

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