Foundations of Psychology
Foundations of Psychology
Psychology is a fairly new field of science. It is divided into major schools of thought, since one paradigm cannot be supported across all fields. However, they can all agree that something biological is related to behavior whether it is genetics or a part of the nervous system. Major Schools of Thought in Psychology
Over the years, psychology has been splintered into seven different schools, including schools that no longer exist. Each school focused on a different aspect of behavior and had different ways of testing their theories. According to Thomas Kuhn, “the social sciences and psychology differ from the older natural sciences in that they lack an accepted paradigm upon which most members of the scientific community agree. Instead, these young sciences are still splintered into several schools” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, Chapter 1). Structuralism Perspective
A German psychologist, Wilhelm Wundt, focused his research on “the nature of consciousness itself” (Stangor, 2012, p. 17). According to Stangor (2012), Wundt founded the structuralism perspective, “a school of psychology whose goal was to identify the basic elements (or “structures”) of psychological experience” (p. 17). Structuralists used introspection to create maps of elements of consciousness (Stangor, 2012, p. 17). One of the known structuralists is Edward Bradford Titchener, who was a student of Wundt. In Titchener’s research, he and his students “claimed to have identified more than 40,000 sensations, including those relating to vision, hearing, and taste” (Stangor, 2012, p. 17). An important aspect of structuralism is it was very scientific. It “marked the beginning of psychology as a science because it demonstrated that mental events could be quantified” (Stangor, 2012, p. 17). They also discovered the limitations to introspection. The structualist were also the “first to realize the importance of unconscious processes-which many important aspects of human psychology occur outside our conscious awareness” (Stangor, 2012, p. 17). Functionalism Perspective
Functionalism was “a school of psychology whose goal was to understand why animals and humans have developed the particular psychological aspects that they currently possess” (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). The functionalist school was influenced greatly by Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). They believed that his theory also applied to psychological characteristics (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Functionalism is no longer a school in psychology; however, it continues to influence psychology. Evolutionary Perspective
The work of functionalist “developed into the field of evolutionary psychology, a branch of psychology that applies the Darwinian theory of natural selection to human and animal behavior” (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Evolutionary psychologists accepted what the functionalist believed about psychological characteristics applying to the theory of natural selection (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). A component to “evolutionary psychology is fitness-the extent to which having a given genetic characteristic helps an individual organism survive and reproduce at a higher rate than do other members of the species who do not have the characteristic” (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Evolutionary psychology had some limitation, also despite its importance in psychological theorizing (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Its main limitation was their prediction were hard to test. Even though it was hard to test their predictions, it still provided a “logical explanation for why we have many psychological traits” (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Psychodynamic Perspective
Sigmund Freud and his followers founded the psychodynamic approach-“an approach to understanding human behavior that focuses on the role of unconscious thoughts, feelings, and memories” (Stangor, 2012, p. 18). Freud “believed many of the problems...
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