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Reductive psychology

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Reductive psychology

What is reductive psychology?

I took the subway after a whole day of work. It was already 7 PM, but the heat of the severe summer of Buenos Aires didn't dismiss the daylight yet. The subway was full. The people felt bothered by the closeness of their neighbors, sources of heat. We did our best to fight against our irrepressible wishes to shout, to push everybody else far from our reach. He didn't. The heat, the pressure in the office, the air feeling like soup (we were the noodles), some argue with his wife on the phone that afternoon, they all made him to explode and shout to the woman beside him: ?Move out! You?re bothering me!? The woman, a pregnant standing young woman, was obligated to shout back: ?You are bothering me, you, @#&$**+@.? Several others, with no formal invitation, were moved by the environment to fight, so they did it shouting, complaining about the heat, and blaming the Subway Company because of the lack of oxygen that made them feel in such a bad mood.

Those people were healthy. They were responding to their environment in the proper way. They were reacting to (I don't want to use the word) their stimuli in the normal way that any human being would. If they didn't, they would get home with this anguish in their chests, due (no doubt) to adrenaline and learned behavior patterns. They would, then, shout to their wives, husbands, children, because they needed to exonerate the pain and the anguish. ?Even a physically uncomfortable environment?overcrowding, loud noise, heat?can apparently help elicit aggressive behavior? (Book, pg. 692).


This is reductive psychology.

To understand it, we will go through some concepts and definitions.

Stimulus: Any information that gets in contact with our consciences. Note that the information can come from the outside or from our self-internal senses. So, a noise is a stimulus, and some pain in the stomach is too.

Response: Our counteraction to a stimulus. It can be physical (punch someone) or emotional (compassion). It can also be on purpose (punch someone) or a body response without our intention. In this case, it is called a reflex (leg up after the hammer of the doctor).

Free agency: ?The Lord gave to man his free agency in the pre-existence. This great gift of agency, that is the privilege given to man to make his own choice, has never been revoked, and it never will be. It is an eternal principle giving freedom of thought and action to every soul. No person, by any decree of the Father, has ever been compelled to do good; no person has ever been forced to do evil. Each may act for himself. It was Satan's plan to destroy this agency and force men to do his will. There could be no satisfactory existence without this great gift. Men must have the privilege to choose even to the extent that they may rebel against the divine decrees. Of course salvation and exaltation must come through the free will without coercion and by individual merit in order that righteous rewards may be given and proper punishment be meted out to the transgressor. Therefore, when the great day of the Lord shall come, the wicked who have merited banishment from a righteous government will be consumed, or the privilege of continuance on the earth will be denied.? (ANSWERS TO GOSPEL QUESTIONS - VOL 2, by Joseph Fielding Smith; The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven: Page 20 )


When psychology first begun, the growing of the so-called natural sciences was a fact of the moment. Disciplines like biology or physics were developing a body of new knowledge, and some others like economics or sociology were growing or to be born. With the advent of Copernicus's discovery about the sun as the center of the solar system, the Earth became the earth, no longer the center of the universe. Men were one step down. Then it came Darwin, stating our relationship with our cousins, the apes. We were not the summit of the creation, but just another provisional link in the chain of life. Men were another step down. But we had full dominion over ourselves, at least.

Well, not exactly. We happen to have a whole world unexplored, virgin, feared, but necessary to be conquered. Our subconscience. Freud appeared to colonize those vast prairies that lied inside our skulls. Humanity as a whole didn't lose the taste of adventure that developed in its years of colonization of America, buccaneers, ?The Travels of Marco Polo,? ?Robinson Crusoe,? and ?The Voyages of Gulliver.?

The space of knowledge formerly occupied by myths, faith, and obscurantism was now finally illuminated by the almighty power of the final weapon, reason, which was meant to destroy our boundaries of ignorance.

In this new light, there was not room for beliefs, which were false by definition of science's way of knowledge. Men were looking for a rational explanation to phenomena, feeling somehow free of the fear of the lightning that our ancestors (hairy, curved, and close to beasts) professed as a religion. Humanity suddenly emerged from the abyss in which was thrown by those three revolutionaries (Copernicus, Darwin, Freud). Humanity had something that made it better and superior to apes, planets, and subconsciences. We had Knowledge. We had Scientific Thinking. We had Light. The Light of our Enlightened Brains.

In this scenery, it is not surprising that psychologist looked around to find some scientific hook in which to hang the new knowledge they had. The first psychologists that begun with introspection theories were quickly questioning those techniques, and James Watson appeared. He thought that abstract concepts like ?mental life? of ?free will? were not measurable, and thus, not intended to be acquainted by Science. He concentrated in measurable phenomena, and then created the Behaviorism, which created the trend of reductive psychology.

Reductive psychology can be described as the branch of psychology that deals with the model stimulus-response to answer the questions of psychology. The model is simple: if we have a stimulus, we will have a response, which will be measurable and understandable?and predictable. Under this light, a man becomes a machine responding in the same way to the same stimuli. If you want to make a doctor, Watson said, you need to expose a young fellow to the right stimuli, and he'll become so. If you ...

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Keywords: reduction psychology definition, reduction psychology example, reduction psychology define, what is reductive research, why is reductionism bad in psychology, what is reductionism in psychology

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