Positivism and Constructivism

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Psychology is a study that mainly focuses on the aspects of the behavior of animals and human beings, and this has led to the involvement of different schools of thought in this field. Some of the common theories that can be used to explain the existence of these schools of thought include constructivism and positivism, meaning that different theories can be used to explain whether the works of other scholars can be considered as either scientific or not. The two theories can offer an insight that can be used to categorize the studies by basing their facts on scientific research (JMB, 2016). First, it is necessary to determine the implied meaning of the two theories of constructivism and positivism.

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Explanation of the theories


This is a philosophical theory based on the assertion that positive thinking and knowledge is mainly based on the issues of natural phenomena, their relations, and properties. This means that any information obtained by sensory experience can be interpreted using reason and logic and thus considered to have formed one of the primary sources of authoritative knowledge (Aliyu et al., 2014). Therefore, it is possible to derive positive results and thinking if one uses the positivist theory. Additionally, published works can be analyzed on their reliability based on the assertion that any idea obtained is authoritative and can be proven as true. Positivism does not depend on working on assumptions but facts.


Constructivism is a theory that is mainly based on scientific study and observation specifically on how people learn and relate with one another. Through experience, it becomes possible for people to learn and understand the dynamics of the world. Once people encounter anything new, they will have to relate it to what they already know or even discard their previous knowledge in an attempt to incorporate new and more reliable information in their daily lives. At times, they can stick to their experience and consider the new information as untrustworthy and unreliable, thus maintaining their knowledge and skills. This means that people have to continually access and analyze the validity of what they know as this may be phased out with time, thus becoming irrelevant. For instance, in a classroom setting, the students can be encouraged to use creative techniques such as problem-solving and experiments as a way of learning and thus change their levels of understanding. Therefore, the teacher has the responsibility of determining what the students know; enabling him/her to address such issues and builds new concepts on the students.

Categorization of the Two Studies

For the article on criminal behavior by Oliveira and Azevedo (2015), there was a record of behavioral change by the proactive substance users. This means that after being subjected to such conditions, they had to change some of their behaviors, thus can be categorized under the constructivism theory. The study was based on the variables that were closely related to criminal behavior among the drug addicts and alcoholics who had sought help in the available health facilities. However, after being subjected to the new life conditions, they eventually abandoned their old ways of life as they considered that as the best decision to make (Maguina et al. 2014). As explained by the constructivism theory, it is possible for individuals to adopt new ways of life and focus on other things that can help them achieve their new goals.

The positivism paradigm can well explain the second article by Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlid (2015). As per the positivism theory, natural phenomena and other variables such as properties and relations should be taken into consideration. For instance, some of the behavioral changes amongst women after the breast cancer treatment were mainly natural as they felt valued and appreciative after the surgery. Additionally, the compassion for one another and the willingness to care for each other was unconditional, and this can be attributed to the life transformation that they had undergone. Therefore, it can be concluded that the article can be attributed to having been based on positivism theory/paradigm because it is based on logic and reason.

Article Comparison

There was a considerable behavioral change for the substance users as explained by Oliveira and Azevedos work. These changes have been vividly demonstrated in the article, and the reader can quickly determine and relate it with the constructivism paradigm. The changes that were observed regarding behavior for the alcohol and drug addicts is a definite sigh of the application of the paradigm. The same case applies to the second article, on I just have to move on: Women's coping experiences and reflections following their first year after primary breast cancer surgery by Drageset, Lindstrom & Underlid. In this article, the reader can easily understand that the variables that were used to analyze the behavioral changes amongst women who had been subjected to breast cancer surgery. After the clinical practice, they changed their perception of life and thus a direct impact on their respective behaviors. However, the significant difference between the articles is that one is based on scientific studies as explained by Oliveira and Azevedo. On the other hand, Drageset, Lindstrom & Underlid based their analysis on positive thinking since the ladies had to change their mentality and perception about life and focus on what they can do to boost their health statuses.

Support of the Theories by the Use of Literature Review

The positivism theory has been exhibited by Drageset, Lindstrom and Underlids publication. Additionally, their works can be supported by other authors works such as that of Gao., et al. (2012). In this study, the researcher came up with a report on the HIV/AIDs awareness in schools and eventually determined that once the students have been enlightened, they become motivated to take care of their health. Even if there can be some students already infected in schools, the awareness remains to be a motivating factor in determining what they need to do instead of losing hope in life. Once the students have been made aware of the consequences of the disease, they will adopt a different behavioral change geared towards ensuring that they have made use of the available prevention tactics. Therefore, as explained in the two publications, real life experiences mainly influences behavioral changes, making it possible for them to be categorized under the positivism paradigm.

Oliveira and Azevedos publication can be grouped under the constructivist paradigm, and this can also be related to Jonassen, (2012)s publication on Objectivism versus constructivism: because it is based on the assertion that knowing involves a process of interpreting and determining what needs to be done. The article is based on scientific knowledge, meaning that it well fits under the constructivism paradigm. For example, the students are encouraged to assess how any activity in which they are involved in helps them in understanding and even questioning themselves on what they should do. Eventually, they become expert learners who can not only pass exams but also apply the acquired knowledge in their daily lives.


From the study, it can be concluded that psychology is a broad field, and analysis can be done to determine the type of paradigm used by an author. The aspects of positivism can be exhibited by the issue of changes in behavior as a way of responding to the environmental variables. This means that once an individual has experienced an advantageous factor such as the case explained above, it becomes easy for him/her to develop a positive attitude about life. On the other hand, constructivism is based on the scientific studies and the available information about a given phenomena. They are prone to change or modify their behaviors if they consider the new things that they have learned to be valuable thus necessary to be included in their decision-making initiatives.


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:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejon.2015.10.005

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:http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0044881

JMB. (2016). The Journal of Mind and Behavior Home. Retrieved August 29, 2016, from http://www.omicsonline.org/clinical-experimental-psychology.php

Jonassen, D. H. (2012). Objectivism versus constructivism: Do we need a new philosophical paradigm?. Educational technology research and development, 39(3), 5-14.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 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2375-4435.1000121

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