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The Study of Learning, Essay Example

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The potential difference between theory and model is largely dependent upon how a given scientist – or more specifically, psychologist – will incorporate these terms within their own discourse. Hence, perhaps no difference between theory and model will exist, insofar as both terms entail a basic postulated picture of how one understands a given phenomenon. For example, a psychological theory, i.e., Jung’s, will consist of concepts such as the archetypes, whereas this theory is also valid as a model by which we can understand instances of human behavior. From this particular viewpoint, the two are essentially interchangeable, as they both identify particular ways of approaching the problem at stake.

Nevertheless, a difference between theory and model, for example, can be declared when we consider the model as more speculative in nature than the theory. For example, a theory about psychosis by definition entails a hypothesis about the causes of psychosis, its symptoms, etc. In contrast, a model may be a way to approach a phenomenon such as psychosis in order to learn more about it, without having a theory about what psychosis itself is. From this perspective, the model is a form of nascent theory: phenomena may or may not correspond to the model, and therefore we have to develop a theory about why such a correspondence is either present or absent.

Hence, in a real life situation, a theory about why, for example, learning disabilities occur, will attempt to provide a complete synopsis of the causes, effects, and symptoms of the learning disability. In short, it will offer a concrete way of understanding the learning disability in question. A model, however, would entail that we do not entirely understand the nature of the learning disability. We thus utilize the model as a basic framework to discern germane characteristics of the disability in question, in order to eventually advance a more robust theory that can explain the phenomenon in question.  From this real life example, therefore, the model can essentially function as a preliminary aid to establishing a final theory.

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