Psychology is a science devoted to the study of behavior and mental processes. There are three important concepts for the definition of psychology: mental, science and behavioral concepts. Psychologists use scientific methods to observe, describe, predict and explain the behavior and mental processes. Behaviors are actions that can be observed directly, while mental processes are experiences that can not be observed directly, as thoughts and feelings.
The history of psychology is rooted in philosophy, biology and physiology. René Descartes and Charles Darwin strongly influenced the origins of psychology. Descartes contributed his vision of an independent body and spirit, opening the way for studies that focus exclusively on the mind. Darwin proposed that humans are part of an evolutionary process he called natural selection. This view has led psychologists to consider the role of environment and adaptation in psychology.
In 1879, Wilhelm Wundt developed the first psychological laboratory. Wundt’s approach, which emphasized the importance of conscious thinking and mind classification structures, was called structuralism. While structuralism basically concentrated on the mind, William James emphasized the functions of the mind in adaptation to the environment. James approach, was called functionalism.
However, structuralism and functionalism were the first major thoughts in psychology. Contemporary psychologists address the scientific study of behavior and mental processes of a variety of views, and each view provides an important piece of psychology puzzle. As we study these prospects, we must keep in mind that all approaches are valid and each has advantages and disadvantages.
Contemporary psychology prospects can be classified into six approaches:
- Behavioral approach:
- Behaviorism- The leaders of this view,that focused on psychology
during the mid 20th century were John Watson and BF Skinner.
The focus is on observable responses and environmental determinants.
- Social cognitive theory- A more recent development of the behaviorist
approach researched by Albert Bandura, integrates the role of environmental
factors and mental processes in understanding behavior.
- Psychodynamic approach: Sigmund Freud developed this perspective that emphasizes the role of unconscious influences on how we think and act. In the early days, life experiences are the major vital factors of adulthood psychology.
- Cognitive Approach: The emphasis here is on mental processes, focusing
attention, perception, memory, reasoning and problem solving.
- Approach Behavioral Neuroscience: This approach studies the biological basis of behavior and mental processes, specifically focusing on the role of the nervous system.
- Approach of Evolutionary Psychology: This perspective focuses on aspects of adaptation of our psychology, how to get used to to the anxiety of our surroundings has shaped our selection of mental and behavioral processes.
- Sociocultural approach: This approach recognizes that social and cultural contexts which influence our psychology, on how we act, think and feel.
During the 20th century, psychology focused mainly on solving psychological problems, such as mental health problems and social unrest. Most people relate Psychologists with the changing of bad behavior and troubled mental processes; However, psychologists also study and work with psychologically healthy people. Finally, the following two movements focus on the study of sound psychology:
- Human Psychology: This approach was proposed in the mid-20th century. This movement was led by Maslow and Rogers. They emphasized the free will of people and their ability to understand and solve their own problems.
- Positive Psychology. This movement emerged in the early 21st century, and it seeks to promote the study of positive psychological phenomena, such as creativity, optimism and effective social relations.