Day 9: Cognitive Approaches
October 24, 2009 by kltangen
Cognitive approaches to personality emphasize our ability to think. In general, this view comes out of behaviorism and social learning theory. It takes the empirical approach of behaviorism, and applies it to how people think. It takes the concepts of social learning theory, and formulates them as internal representations. Essentially, cognitive science believes you are what you think.
Aaron Beck (1921-) combined Rogers, Kelly and Freud to create Cognitive Therapy. From Rogers, he takes the importance of developing a relationship with the client and Roger’s emphasis on phenomenology (how you see the world). Like Kelly, Beck emphasizes the personalized nature of thinking. We construct our view of the world from our past experiences and internal processes. And from Freud, Beck takes the importance of treating severe conditions, the value of a good medical education (Beck got his MD from Yale), and the great impact that internal processing has on external behavior.
Albert Ellis (1913-2007) was trained by one of Karen Horney’s followers. So it is no surprise that he believes we should battle the Tyranny of Should. According to Ellis, we make ourselves miserable by doing what others think we should do. If we worried less about what others thought, we’d be happier. For Ellis, thinking and happiness go together. How we think impacts how we feel. According to this view, thinking causes emotional consequences. Emotions don’t stand by themselves. They are the result of your thinking; the product of your belief system.