Psychology Essay Example

Topics: Behavior

Psychology Essay Introduction

History of Psychology Psychology is defined as “the study of behavior and mental processes”. Philosophical interest in the mind and behavior dates back to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, and India. Psychology as a self-conscious field of experimental study began in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory dedicated exclusively to psychological research in Leipzig. Wundt was also the first person who wrote the first textbook on psychology: Principles of Physiological Psychology. Other important early contributors to the field include Hermann Ebbinghaus (a pioneer in the study of memory), William James (the American father of pragmatism), and Ivan Pavlov (who developed the procedures associated with classical conditioning).

Soon after the development of experimental psychology, various kinds of applied psychology appeared. G. Stanley Hall brought scientific pedagogy to the United States from Germany in the early 1880s. John Dewey’s educational theory of the 1890s was another example. Also in the 1890s, Hugo Munsterberg began writing about the application of psychology to industry, law, and other fields.

Lightner Witmer established the first psychological clinic in the 890s. James McKeen Cattell adapted Francis Galton’s anthropometric methods to generate the first program of mental testing in the 1890s. In Vienna, meanwhile, Sigmund Freud developed an independent approach to the study of the mind called psychoanalysis, which has been widely influential. The 20th century saw a reaction to Edward Titchener’s critique of Wundt’s empiricism. This contributed to the formulation of behaviorism by John B. Watson, which was popularized by B.

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F. Skinner. Behaviorism proposed emphasizing the study of overt behavior, because that could be quantified and easily measured.

Psychology Essay Body Paragraphs

Early behaviorists considered study of the “mind” too vague for productive scientific study. However, Skinner and his colleagues did study thinking as a form of covert behavior to which they could apply the same principles as overt (publicly observable) behavior. The final decades of the 20th century saw the rise of cognitive science, an interdisciplinary approach to studying the human mind. Cognitive science again considers the “mind” as a subject for investigation, using the tools of evolutionary psychology, linguistics, computer science, philosophy, behaviorism, and neurobiology. This form of investigation has roposed that a wide understanding of the human mind is possible, and that such an understanding may be applied to other research domains, such as artificial intelligence. Goals of Psychology 1 . Describe behavior: The first goal of psychology is to describe behavior. Description involves naming and classifying behavior. This description is based on careful, systematic procedure in contrast to haphazard description of common sense. Description is very important in that it makes u clear about what the phenomena under study. Only after we described the behavior or phenomenon clearly we can move to the other goals. . Understand or explain behavior: The second goal of psychology becomes explaining the behavior or phenomenon that was described. Psychologists who are concern this goal try to find out why such behavior occur. They take help of existing theories and knowledge to explain or understand behavior. In some cases if there are no theorizes or researches that can explain such behavior psychologists make tentative statements and try to test such hypothesis. 3. Predict the behavior: Another important goal for psychologists is to forecast future event. By carefully analyzing the relationship between different variables, sychologists can accurately predict what will be the relation in future between them. Prediction helps in modifying the behavior. It is facilitated by understanding of the relationship. 4. Control or modify behaviors: The fourth goal of psychology is to control, modify or change the existing behavior. The behaviors that need to be corrected are modified through the help of psychological techniques. Only psychologists who work in applied are of psychology are concerned with controlling the behaviors. Psychologists working in theoretical or basic are only concerned with first three goals of sychology. Schools of Psychology 1 . Structuralism. Structuralism was developed in Germany in the 19th century. Its main leaders were Wilhelm Wundth and later, Edward Bradford Titchener. The structuralists were primarily concerned with discovering the structure of the mind. They believe that the mind is made up of building blocks in the form of various types of sensation and perception, and that these building blocks could be discovered through introspection or looking into one’s own mind. Although the structuralists discovered many laws of perception, they were not able to achieve their main goal. . Functionalism. As the center of psychological study shifted to the United States, a new school, known as functionalism, arose. Its main leaders were James R. Angell, John Dewey and Harvey Carr. All three psychologist taught at the University of Chicago in the 20th century. The most important contribution of functionalism was changing the focus of psychology to learning, motivation and thinking, and veered away from the structuralists’ emphasis on individual perception and sensations. Functional Psychologists developed the technique of longitudinal research, which onsists of interviewing, testing, and observing one person over a long period of time. Such a system permits the psychologist to observe and record the person’s development, and how he reacts to different circumstances. 3. Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis is a school of psychology founded by Sigmund Freud. This school of thought emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements: (1) the ‘d, (2) the ego and (3) the superego. The id is composed of primal urges, while the ego is the component of personality charged with dealing with reality. The superego is the part of personality that holds all of the ideals and values we internalize from our parents and culture. Freud believed that the interaction of these three elements was what led to all of the complex human behaviors. Freud’s school of thought was enormously influential, but also generated a great deal of controversy. This controversy existed not only in his time, but also in modern discussions of Freud’s theories. Other major psychoanalytic thinkers include: Anna Freud, Carl Jung and Erik Erikson. 4. Behaviorism. became a dominant school of thought during the 1950s. It was based upon the work of thinkers such as; John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner. Behaviorism suggests that all behavior can be explained by environmental causes rather than by internal forces. Behaviorism is focused on observable behavior. Theories of learning including classical conditioning and operant conditioning were the focus of a great deal of research. Perspective of Psychology The Psychodynamic Perspective The psychodynamic perspective originated with the work of Sigmund Freud. This view of psychology and human behavior emphasizes the role of the unconscious ind, early childhood experiences, and interpersonal relationships to explain human behavior and to treat people suffering from mental illnesses. The Behavioral Perspective Behavioral psychology is a perspective that focuses on learned behaviors. Behaviorism differed from many other perspectives because instead of emphasizing internal states, it focused solely on observable behaviors. While this school of thought dominated psychology early in the twentieth century, it began to lose its hold during the 1950s. Today, the behavioral perspective is still concerned with how behaviors are learned and reinforced. Behavioral principles are often applied in mental health settings, where therapists and counselors use these techniques to explain and treat a variety of illnesses. The Cognitive Perspective During the 1960s, a new perspective known as cognitive psychology began to take hold. This area of psychology focuses on mental processes such as memory, thinking, problem solving, language and decision-making. Influenced by psychologists such as Jean Piaget and Albert Bandura, this perspective has grown tremendously in recent decades. Cognitive psychologists often utilize an information-processing odel, comparing the human mind to a computer, to conceptualize how information is acquired, processed, stored, and utilized. The Biological Perspective The study of physiology played a major role in the development of psychology as a separate science. Today, this perspective is known as biological psychology. Sometimes referred to asbiopsychology or physiological psychology, this point of view emphasizes the physical and biological bases of behavior. Researchers who take a biological perspective on psychology might look at how genetics influence different ehaviors or how damage to specific areas of the brain influence behavior and personality. Things like the nervous system, genetics, the brain, the immune system, and the endocrine systems are Just a few of the subjects that interest biological psychologists. This perspective has grown significantly over the last few decades, especially with advances in our ability to explore and understand the human brain and nervous system. Tools such as MRI scans and PET scans allow researchers to look at the brain under a variety of conditions. Scientists can now look at the effects of rain damage, drugs, and disease in ways that were simply not possible in the past. The Cross-cultural Perspective Cross-cultural psychology is a fairly new perspective that has grown significantly over the last twenty years. These psychologists and researchers look at human behavior across different cultures. By looking at these differences, we can learn more about how our culture influences our thinking and behavior. For example, researchers have looked at how social behaviors differ in individualistic and collectivistic cultures. In individualistic cultures, such as the U. S. eople tend to exert less effort when they are part of a group, a phenomenon known as social loafing. In collectivistic cultures such as China, however, people tend to work harder when they are part of a group. The Evolutionary Perspective Evolutionary psychology is focused on the study of how evolution explains physiological processes. Psychologists and researchers take the basic principles of evolution, including natural selection, and apply them to psychological phenomena. This perspective suggests that these mental processes exist because they serve an evolutionary purpose – they aid in survival and reproduction. The Humanistic During the 1950s, a school of thought known as humanistic psychology emerged. Influenced greatly by the work of prominent humanists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, this perspective emphasizes the role of motivation on thought and behavior. Concepts such as self-actualization are an essential part of this perspective. Those who take the humanist perspective focus on the ways that human beings are driven to grow, change, and develop their personal potential. Positive psychology is one relatively recent movement in psychology that has its roots in the humanist perspective.

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Psychology Essay Example. (2019, Nov 01). Retrieved from

Psychology Essay Example
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