Care Workers’ Knowledge of Psychological Theories


Psychological knowledge, methods, tools, and theories are an essential and integral part of some therapeutic and preventive measures in a care setting. Understanding and application of these concepts in practice are absolutely necessary for the work of any medical and social worker. With the help of these theories, specialists can “comprehend” both their own emotions and the experiences of others, as well as understand the psychological state of patients. Knowing psychological principles and ideas, professionals in the medical and care field know how to manage their and individuals’ behavior and overcome misunderstandings, force majeure, and various kinds of incidents. Accordingly, the success of the medical activity and the patient’s health depends on how well a specialist possesses this knowledge. Psychological theories play a key role in specialists who provide comprehensive support and care for people.

Relation of The Two Psychological Theories to the Concept of Behavior

In psychology, there are several theories that are interrelated with human behavior. The two theories listed below significantly help medical professionals in providing high-quality and effective service to individuals in a care setting. One of the most important theories in psychological practice and activity is social-cognitive and behavioral, or in other words, behaviorism. These concepts are based and built on peoples’ internal states, “stimulating” them to show specific behavior, actions, and manners.

First of all, the main essence of behaviorism is the study of human behavior, which is investigated by experimentally studying the factors influencing its formation and the formation of connections between stimuli and reactions. According to scientists and researchers, a human behaves unconsciously, and reflexes and reactions condition his actions to triggers of the surrounding world; they are based on ancestors’ experiences (Watson and Kimble, 2017. pp. 7-18). Hence, a person’s actions directly depend on what is happening outside and not on consciousness.

Moreover, after the formation of behaviorism, some psychologists suggested that human behavior is regulated by complex interactions between internal phenomena and environmental factors. This reasoning formed the basis of the social-cognitive direction in the theory of personality. Consequently, the social-cognitive theory is based on the principle of reciprocal determinism, which implies that predisposition factors and situational factors are interdependent causes of the manifestation of a particular behavior (Vahedi, 2020, pp. 401-405). The psychological functioning of personality is better understood through the interaction between behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors (Vahedi, 2020, pp. 401-405). Thus, internal aspects of behavior and external determinants are part of a system of interacting influences that act on behavior and other components. As a rule, behavior is influenced not only by the environment but also by people themselves, influencing their behavior.

Application of This Knowledge by Care Workers in a Care Setting

The two theories have a fairly wide and comprehensive practical application. For instance, the behavioral theory has demonstrated exceptionally high efficiency in correcting “undesirable” behavior. One of the applied elements of behavioral psychology is often experienced by medical and care workers themselves, being exposed to the relentless influence of external factors, phenomena, and events. Thus, having sufficient competencies in applying the behavioral concept allows employees to control their feelings and emotions, not succumb to provocations, and show the “worst sides” of the human psyche at work.

In some cases, an individual, or in other words, a patient, within the framework of the care environment, may experience psychological discomfort due to “improper” behavior. Therefore, the task of a medical professional is to teach patients to correct their behavior and actions. As practice shows, in these situations, it is necessary to treat not the symptoms but the disease itself and solve the problem underlying psychological discomfort. A specialist with deep and broad knowledge of behaviorism will be able to prescribe a suitable course of treatment and recovery or correct existing deficiencies based on certain aspects.

Due to awareness and understanding of the causes of a certain type of behavior, a medical worker can get out of various difficult situations, better perceive incoming information, process it, and do high-quality work. Additionally, having understood the nature of the patient’s character and behavior model, the medical worker will have a chance and an opportunity to create those relationships with the patient based on reciprocity and mutual respect. Consequently, the recovery process will be more thorough and more rapid, and the performance of duties will significantly improve.

On the other hand, the social-cognitive theory has a critical role in correcting the behavior of individuals, as well as their motivation, beliefs, and views on specific moments within a care setting and environment. As mentioned earlier, behavior, personal characteristics, and observation are the three mutual factors of social cognitive theory. Therefore, when people observe the model performing the behavior and its consequences, they remember the sequence of events and use this information to control subsequent behavior and perception of specific actions (Ayre and Krishnamoorthy, 2020). One way or another, some individuals do not learn new behavior by trying it and achieving success or failure. Besides, depending on whether people are rewarded or punished for their behavior, an observer may prefer to reproduce the simulated behavior.

Strengthening and maintaining an individual’s health and excellent condition depends on “copying” and observing several elements. At the same time, the environment, behavior, and cognition act as the main factors influencing development in mutual triadic relationships. Every observed behavior can change a person’s way of thinking. Similarly, the environment in which the patient is located can affect their further behavior.

Moreover, an important place in the social-cognitive theory is occupied by the concepts of “self-regulation,” “self-control,” and “self-efficacy” of an individual. This substantiates the leading role in teaching and organizing a patient’s behavior of its unique ability to self-regulate. Self-efficacy improves knowledge in the approach to patient care due to those factors that combine aspects of understanding behavior into healthy relationships, the direction of interventions, and expanding practical activities (Manjarres-Posada, Onofre-Rodríguez, and Benavides-Torres, 2020, p. 132). Thus, medical professionals’ knowledge and understanding of socio-cognitive theory provide a basis for understanding how the patient’s health status changes due to their environment. In addition, the suggestion of self-efficacy to the patient within the framework of this theory can affect the patient’s motivation to perform various actions and faith in a speedy recovery.

The Evidence

Indeed, the development and behavior of an individual can be explained according to these two theories with evidence. For example, Hagger argues that behavioral theory finds its application not only in the context of a medical institution but also at the level of the population (Hagger and Weed, 2019, p. 1). Thus, interventions based on elements of behaviorism have demonstrated their effectiveness and significance in changing behavior to the health of an individual and the entire population (Hagger and Weed, 2019, p. 3).

From the point of view of behavioral theory, the patient’s actions can be conditioned by observing the events taking place. J. Watson believed that a person could be taught everything without considering genetic characteristics or personal characteristics (Alakwe and Ogbu, 2018, p. 26). Thus, if a patient is panicked by injections, then a medical professional can turn to childhood traumatic experiences of an individual. A professional will begin to develop conditioned reflexes in a person that will contribute to their relaxation during a stressful situation.

In contrast, the development and behavior of a patient from the social-cognitive theory point of view are due to the influence of people, events, and phenomena on an individual’s behavior. Hence, medical professionals need to pay attention to who or what a person interacts with. A recent study also highlights that health workers’ cultural competence and professionalism contribute to minimizing negative requests for medical care related to health behavior (Flynn et al., 2021, p. 1). Knowledge and understanding of the basics of this concept help social workers to recognize external phenomena as sources of influence on the state of the body and individuals’ health.

Additionally, this knowledge impacts care worker practice in the following ways. The versatility of human problems is significant not only within the framework of psychological concepts but also in medical ones since a person is a subject of much research. Knowledge of psychological theories helps to better understand care workers’ emotions and the experiences of individuals.

The ability of a medical worker to understand and listen to a sick person seems necessary for the formation of contact. It has a favorable interaction on the psychological contract of a care worker and an individual. Assessing the severity of complaints and presenting them requires great tact and specific knowledge from a specialist. Thus, the availability of psychological training for a medical worker contributes to a significant improvement in the quality of patient treatment and the training of highly qualified specialists.


In conclusion, psychological theories are an integral part of the success and effectiveness of the performed work and duties of a medical professional regarding a patient. A specialist who possesses certain knowledge, competencies, and skills within the framework of these concepts has an advantage in the quality of execution and provision of medical services. Therefore, the theory based on behaviorism helps a professional in the medical and social sphere to “dip” a patient into their biological essence. Understanding the specifics of an individual’s character and temperament allows a care worker to adapt to new conditions in the aspect of treatment and recovery of a “client.”

On the contrary, a specialist, who knows the socio-cognitive theory, will draw an analogy and the relationship between the environment in which a person is and the state of health. After analyzing this situation, the medical professional will proceed from the knowledge gained and prescribe treatment following circumstances and requirements. However, psychological concepts are not limited to the two theories listed above. Accordingly, it is recommended to apply a wide range of knowledge and skills in medical practice to understand psychology and the human psyche.

Reference List

Alakwe, K. O., and Ogbu, S. U. (2018) ‘Communication and the shaping of human personality; deconstructing the nature/nurture debate in light of the menace of street children in Nigeria. Advanced Journal of Social Science, 3(1), pp. 23-33. Web.

Ayre, K. and Krishnamoorthy, G. (2020) Trauma informed behaviour support: a practical guide to developing resilient learners. Web.

Flynn, P. M., Betancourt, H., Emerson, N. D., Nunez, E. I., & Nance, C. M. (2020) ‘Health professional cultural competence reduces the psychological and behavioral impact of negative healthcare encounters’, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 26(3), pp. 271-279. Web.

Hagger, M. S., and Weed, M. (2019). ‘DEBATE: do interventions based on behavioral theory work in the real world?,’ International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16(1), pp. 1-10. Web.

Manjarres-Posada, N., Onofre-Rodríguez, D. J. and Benavides-Torres, R. A. (2020) ‘Social cognitive theory and health care: analysis and evaluation’, International Journal of Social Science Studies, 8(4), p. 132. Web.

Vahedi, Z. (2020) ‘Social learning theory/social cognitive theory’, in Carducci, B.J., Nave, C.S., Mio, J.S., and Riggio, R.E. (eds.) The Wiley encyclopedia of personality and individual differences: models and theories. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, pp. 401–405.

Watson, J. B. and Kimble, G.A. (2017) Behaviorism. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. "Care Workers' Knowledge of Psychological Theories." September 22, 2023.