Psychology Essay Example: Positivism and Conductivism

Published: 2019-10-22
Psychology Essay Example: Positivism and Conductivism
Categories:  Psychology
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1370 words
12 min read

Psychology focuses on the mind and behavior of humans and animals (JMB, 2016). There are several schools of thought involved in the field of psychology. Such includes positivism and conductivism theories among others. This essay is a discussion of the psychology theories of positivism and conductivism and analysis of two past studies that offers a description of whether the articles are scientific or not. This essay also offers a categorization of the two studies based on the paradigm theories of positivism and conductivism and a discussion of the separation of the two studies based on specific scientific arguments.

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Description of the Two Theories


Positivism is a theory in philosophy that states that positive knowledge can only be postulated on natural phenomena based on both their properties and relations (Aliyu et al., 2014). For this reason, all information attained from sensory experiences must be interpreted through reason as well as logic. This is so at to form a preferential source of all authoritative knowledge attained. According to the theory of positivism, valid certitude or knowledge can only be found in such derived knowledge.


It is a theory in psychology that focuses on the behavior of phenomena that can be observed, through a procedure of developing specific conditions of stimulus control. The theory discounts any emergent independent activities of the mind, which could arise due to stimuli control. According to psychologists, focused on conductivism, learning is just the acquisition of new information or knowledge developed through environmental conditions.

Categorization of The Two Studies Based On the Paradigm Theories of Positivism and Conductivism

The research article authored by Oliveira and Azevedo (2015) on criminal behavior among psychoactive substances users who began treatment could be supported by the conductivism paradigm of psychology. This is because the results attained were largely attained from the observation of behavioral change among 183 research participants, who were either users or dependents of one or more PAS during treatment. The developing specific stimuli control used in this case was the issue of treatment meant to ascertain whether substance abuse is the only associated factor of persons criminal behavior.

The research article authored by Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015) could be supported by the positivism paradigm of psychology. This is because the womens experiences and reflections that followed the one-year breast cancer surgery were largely based on the naturally occurring behavioral changes among the research participants. The findings that the women felt more appreciative of life after surgery, and their caring, as well as compassion towards others, manifested a natural behavioral change. As such all the information attained from this research is developed through reason and logic.

Comparison of the Two Publications

There are various aspects in the article authored by Oliveira and Azevedo (2015), which clearly support its usage of the paradigm of conductivism in its development. Unlike in the Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015) publication that portrayed the support of the paradigm of positivism. The initial publication based its results primarily on the observation of behavioral changes among the targeted population sample. In this case, rehabilitated participants were examined on their history with crime, which could be accredited to their drug usage problem.

This is contrary to the second publication authored by Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015), where the data attained was based on the reflections of a natural phenomenon in the participants life, and its impact on their life after an intervention. In this case, the phenomenon facing the women who were the participants in the research was cancer. In addition, the experience manifested in the research was the womens appreciation of life after they went through a traumatizing experience of cancer treatment. The shows that unlike in Oliveira and Azevedo (2015) publication that primarily relied on observation, the latter publication relied on a natural occurrence and its repercussions in terms of experiences.

Support of the Paradigms in the Two Articles Using Other Publications

The usage of the paradigm of conductivism in a research study publication authored by Oliveira and Azevedo (2015) can be supported by another publication authored by Maguina et. al. (2014). The later publication was developed in research focused on determining the association of alcohol consumption before engaging in coitus, engagement in unprotected sex and the prevalence of STIs and HIV among the sample population (Maguina et. al. 2014). During this research, observation on the association between the three elements was observed by controlling the factors as stimuli among the sample participants. The paradigm used in the two studies is similar, largely because observation of the occurrence of behavioral change occurred through the variable regulation of the three determining factors as stimuli.

The paradigm of positivism, on the other hand, as used in the Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015) publication can be supported by a different publication that was authored by Gao et. al. (2012). The later publication was a summary of research performed in an effort to determine the effetiveness of school-based education on HIV/AIDs knowledge among secondary school students in China (Gao et al., 2012). In light of this publication, the transmission of HIV/AIDs among the high school students was ascertained to be a natural phenomenon, with a real cause or contributing factors.

As such, the secondary school education offered to the affected students in secondary schools made them more oblivious of the danger posed by the disease. Consequently, this faciliatated behavioral change among the students, which made them adopt essential HIV/AIDs prevention measures in the learning institutions. This publication is closely related to the publication authored by Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015) in that in both cases, behavioral changes was a resultant factor of a real life experience. In this case, the experiences were a survival from cancer and direct contact with students who were affected by HIV/AIDs in secondary school institutions.

The paradigm of positivism in Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015) publication can also be supported by a publication authored by Short, James and Plotnikoff (2013). The latter was research aimed at promoting physical activity behavioral change amongst survivors of breast cancer (Short, James & Plotnikoff, 2013). From the research, it was ascertained that long term physical activities as interventions could aid in promoting the physical wellness of cancer survivors. According to this research, the interventions were based on a change in behavior due to an existing experience of a natural factor among the sample participants of the research. In this case, the natural factor was the breast cancer and the situation was remedied through stimuli modifications, in this case, the physical activity intervention.


In summary, the field of psychology focuses on the behavior and mind of both humans and animals. The field has numerous paradigms, such as positivism and conductivism, among others. The paradigm of positivism focuses on the behavioral changes of humans and animals, based on the reflection of the occurrence of a natural phenomenon as well as its relations. On the other hand, the paradigm of conductivism is focused on the behavioral changes of humans and animals, which can be observed through the modification or change of various stimuli around their environment.


Aliyu et al. (2014). Positivist and Non-Positivist Paradigm in Social Science Research: Conflicting Paradigms or Perfect Partners? Journal of Management and Sustainability, 4(3). doi:doi:10.5539/jms.v4n3p79

Drageset, Lindstrom & Underlid. (2015). I just have to move on: Women's coping experiences and reflections following their first year after primary breast cancer surgery. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 1-7. doi:

Gao et al. (2012, September 7). Effectiveness of School-based Education on HIV/AIDS Knowledge, Attitude, and Behavior among Secondary School Students in Wuhan, China. PLoS ONE, 7(9). doi:

JMB. (2016). The Journal of Mind and Behavior Home. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from

Maguina et al. (2014, March 5). Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption Prior to Sex, Unprotected Sex and Prevalence of STI/HIV Among Socially Marginalized Men in Three Coastal Cities of Peru. The NIMH Collaborative HIV/STD Prevention Trial Group, 17(5), 1724-1733. doi:10.1007/s10461-012-0310-2

BIBLIOGRAPHY Oliveira and Azevedo. (2015). Criminal Behaviour in Users of Psychoactive Substances Who Began Treatment. Sociology and Criminology, 3(1). Retrieved from

Short. (2016, July 26). A qualitative synthesis of trials promoting physical activity behaviour change among post-treatment breast cancer survivors. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 7(4), 570-581. doi:10.1007/s11764-013-0296-41

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