The word Psychology comes from the Greek words ‘psyche’ meaning ‘mind’, and ‘logos’ meaning ‘study of’. Quite literally, Psychology means ‘study of the mind’. However more recently, Atkinson et al. (1991) have suggested that psychology is ‘The scientific study of behavior and mental processes’. This would suggest that Psychology studies primarily the mind and behavior, but psychologists have forever debated what exactly should be studied in Psychology and how it should be studied.
Psychology arose from three main areas of study: Philosophy, Biology, and Physics. Many philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle outlined many problems which Psychology now investigates. More recently, arguments for empiricism (only measuring observable data, such as behavior) and positivism (methods and principles of science should be applied to human behavior) has also had an effect on Psychology. Darwin and his theory of evolution also had a major impact on the study of Psychology, as well as discoveries of the structure of the brain and nervous system further increased the understanding of behavior. Physics has been adopted as the ideal model for science so Psychology adopts its scientific methods and principles. It is believed that Psychology started as a separate discipline in 1879 since this was the year that Wilhelm Wundt created the first psychology laboratory. Wundt is regarded as the ‘founding father’ of psychology, however, Americans believe that Williams James should have this honour since he wrote a book in 1890 called Principles in Psychology which was a major landmark in Psychology’s literature.
There are many different ways of physiological psychology definition that started to develop which are shown in this list:
Structuralism – this was the first approach which was pioneered by Wundt who believed that Psychology should be a study of the conscious mind, and that it should be looked at introspectively.
Functionalism – this approach was started by Williams James. He was influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution and believed that the workings of the mind is functional and evolved for a purpose.
Psychoanalysis – A method of therapy, which eventually turned into a theory when he wrote many books such as The Interpretation of Dreams (1990). Freud had an huge and controversial impact on Psychology.
Behaviorism– Behaviorists, such as John Watson, believed that for Psychology to be an objective science, it needed to look at what was objectionably observable such as behavior, rather than what was going on inside the mind.
Cognitive psychology – this uses computer information processing ideas to create testable models which are then applied to scientific method to confirm them. This is still very popular today.
Humanistic approach – this adopts the view that Psychology should be based on an individuals own conscious experience and aims in life, so is less scientific than other types of Psychology.
Biological approach – this looks at evolutionary, physiological and genetic explanations for human behavior.
This approach finds its roots in biology, nativist philosophy and evolutionary theory. Nativists believe that causes of behavior come from genetic influences, brain activity and neurochemical activity. The methods used in this approach are gene/chromosome mapping, twin and adoption studies, brain scanning, drug testing and damage testing. Nativists believe that all of our behavior is determined by our biology, so therefore behavior can only be changed through physical means such as selecting breeding and brain surgery. However, this approach is reductionist and it neglects any environmental influences.
These are a few things that activists believe are influenced by nature:
1. Perception – pattern detection, size constancy, depth perception
2. Aggression – effected by hormones
3. Sex-role behavior – gender identity from hormonal influences
4. Abnormality – genetic and neurochemical causes
5. Language acquisition – innate language device
This approach finds its roots in behaviorism, empiricism philosophy and social psychology. The mind is regarded as a blank slate from birth so therefore behavior is learned from the environment after birth due to experience. The methods used in this approach are classical and operand conditioning and manipulation of social environments. Because empiricists believe that anything can be learn, behavior can be manipulated through reinforcement and environmental conditions. However, this approach is reductionist and it neglects any innate influences.
A few things empiricists believe are influenced …