Contribution of Psychology and Social Psychology to the study of Health and Welfare Issues

The psycho dynamic approach denotes the active forces within the personality that motivate behaviour, and the inner causes of behaviour, in particular the unconscious conflict between the different structures that compose the whole personality. There are a lot of factors that contribute to why people behave in a certain way and why people do things that has an adverse affect on health. Anxiety is a state of apprehension, tension and worry this is associated with the Freudian theory.

Freud believes that anxiety arises when the ego which is the executive of the personality is faced with an influx of stimuli with hich it cannot cope. People use a number of techniques to help cope with anxiety and stress one of these is smoking. People use smoking as a way of coping with anxiety due to the rush of nicotine which gets released in the brain which can give a quick sensation of pleasure and helps calm the smoker down. With the quick sensation of pleasure from the cigarette the brain craves more nicotine; smoking is used as a stimulant and a depressant some smokers do say that smoking helps them relax.

Smoking can be seen as defence mechanism because people smoke to deal with everyday problems uch as anxiety or stress. Repression can be regarded as the primary, initial mechanism of defence that protects an individual against anxiety. These conflicts are accompanied by anxiety and result from interactions between the different personality structures named the ego, the id and the super ego. The id is concerned with the gratification of basic biological instincts and the pleasure principle, the ego is manifested as consciousness and the reality principle.

The super ego constituted moral conscience and idealistic striving. The development of an individuals personality structures arises as a esult of a maturational process from birth to adulthood. A lot of people do not realise what smoking is actually doing to their health and most smokers are living in denial which is a defence mechanism people use to block out the unpleasant reality of smoking which exists. The smoker does know that smoking cigarettes causes cancer and if the smoker doesn’t stop they could die of cancer or another disease associated with smoking such as heart disease.

For example the symptoms of lung cancer are the coughing up of blood, shortness of breath, dry cough with phlegm, weight oss and a dull continuous pain in the chest and shoulders. If a smoker has theses symptoms and are a heavy smoker he or she may delay in seeking medical advice because they are afraid of the diagnosis. The learning approach is associated with the behaviorist perspective and believes that environmental factors influence the behaviour of individuals. The behavioral perspective focuses on observational stimuli and responses.

An S-R analysis (stimuli and response) can be used to a specific problem for example smoking if a smoker feels stress or anxiety – a stimulus they may eel the need to have a cigarette which is a response to the stimulus they are experiencing. Smokers have learned that having a cigarette is a response to the anxiety or difficult situation they are experiencing. Another situation is if a “social” smoker is out with other smokers in a social setting they may be obliged to have a cigarette, the stimulus being the smokers having a cigarette and the behavioral response is to smoke a cigarette.

A main factor of the learning theory is that people observe behaviour and copy it in different social settings. Conformity is when people act in certain ays to go along with a majority to “fit in”. Evidence shows that people conform for two reasons – one being that they want to be right and the second is they want to be liked. This can be seen many times with the issue of smoking. Lots of young people go around in groups socially; if people in the group smoked other young people would be obliged to join in with them and smoke to “fit in” as they want to be linked.

People spend most of their time with friends, classmates, colleagues or relatives in social setting in which social norms and interaction rituals have been established (Montada & Bierhoff, 1991). If a child gets into the routine of smoking after school with a group of peers they will be conforming with the rest of the group they would do this so they would be liked by the rest of the group, if they stopped doing it they maybe subjected to ridicule. According to the conception of the social learning theory, observational learning is one of the most powerful mechanisms of socialisation.

People observe others behaviour at a very young age – children observe other people who serves as a model and then imitates what the model does. For example if a child sees his or hers mother or father or another close family ember smoking they may be obliged to copy the behaviour. This theory links closely with issue of conformity and peer pressure. The psycho dynamic approach and the learning approach are very different psychological explanations to the issue of health related behaviour.

The learning theory focuses more on the observational learning behaviour of others while the psycho dynamic approach focuses on why and what makes a person behave in the way they do. A psychological theory that ties both the psycho dynamic approach and the learning theory together is the health belief model, which was designed to explain why people fail to perform reventative behaviors such as having vaccinations or screening (Beckers & Maiman 1975).

The health belief model assumes that people’s health behaviour is determined by their perception of the threat of illness or injury and the advantages and disadvantages of taking action. Health belief models are considered to be appropriate targets foe persuasive communications because they can be influenced by relevant information for example the mass media appeals. This can be associated with the learning approach as learning that smoking has an adverse effect on health people may be nfluenced to stop due to the positive health benefits.

The health belief models has four main components, one is perceived susceptibility – the subjective perception of the risk of getting a disease if no protective measures are taken. For a chain smoker there run a high risk of getting lung cancer or developing coronary heart disease. The second component is perceived severity – the evaluation of physical or social consequences of contracting the disease, such as for example pain, deterioration of family life. In the case of a smoker most smokers die of lung cancer die and oronary heart disease can be totally incapacitating.

These two factors of the health belief model are associated with the learning theory, the smoker has learnt that smoking is bad and can cause a lot of adverse health problems this would give the smoker motivation to stop smoking to improve health as it may be under threat. The third component associated with the health belief model is the perceived benefits – which is the degree to which a particular health recommendation is regarded as reducing the perceived susceptibility or severity of the health risk. In the case of a smoker if they top smoking the risk of getting lung cancer or heart disease will decrease considerably.

The four component is perceived barriers – these are negative aspects of the recommended behaviour, such as for example side effects of medication, the pain expected as a result of under going medical procedures, financial factors and the effort. In a smokers point of view they may miss the enjoyment of smoker and they may suffer in the first few months of getting used to not smoking. These two components can be intertwined with the psycho dynamic approach as the belief in the effectiveness of improved ealth behaviour motivates the way people will deal with the situation, meaning they will stop or cut down in smoking to improve health.

Both the psycho dynamic approach and learning approach have associations with the health belief model but are still very different aspects when explaining health related behaviour. The fact that smoking and other social activities such as drinking, eating a poor diet or leading a sedentary lifestyle can result in health impairments is so widely accepted in the world today that one easily forgets that the health risks were practically unknown before the second half of the twentieth entury.

More and more factors contribute why people behaviour in the way they do and why people are damaging their health because of it. Public health interventions designed to achieve scale behaviour change rely on two strategies, health education and modification to the incentive structure which refers to strategies of behaviour changes that influence behaviour by increasing costs for example of cigarettes and decreasing the costs of health promoting behaviour. The government use this the fiscal method and increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to influence behaviour.

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