February 10th, 2014
Foundation of Psychology
In this essay, I will be discussing the four major perspectives of psychology (also called the schools of thought) and their underlying assumptions as well as the primary biological foundations of psychology linked to behavior. The four perspectives guide psychological thinking and offers points of views on phenomena.
Sigmund Freud developed a theory of mental life and behavior and an approach to treating psychological disorders known as psychoanalysis (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Freud’s theories focused attention on the unconscious mind. He believed that the unconscious mind affected our behavior, our feelings, and our actions. Many psychologists have continued on with Freud’s theories, which created psychodynamics.
According to Kowalski & Weston (2011), the psychodynamic perspective rests on three key premises. “First, the people’s actions are determined by the way thoughts, feelings, and wishes are connected in their minds. Second, many of these mental events occur outside of conscious awareness. Third, these mental processes may conflict with one another, leading to compromises among competing motives” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p.13).
A psychodynamic clinician observes a patient’s dreams, thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and posture. They then interpret their meanings. Many psychologists have been skeptical about psychodynamic ideas because there can many different interpretations. Some of the underlying assumptions are that it is believed that all behavior has a cause or a reason, and some of the behaviors or feelings we have as adults have come from our childhood experiences. The second school of thought is the behaviorist perspective, also known as behaviorism. Behaviorism was developed by John Watson. The behaviorist perspective focuses on the relation between external (environmental) events and observable behaviors (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Pavlov’s dog is an example of behaviorism. Ivan Pavlov laid the foundation of behaviorism by extensive research. He associated his dog with a set sound during mealtime, so every time the dog heard that sound he would salivate, thinking it was mealtime. This is called classical conditioning. Classical conditioning is a type of learning in which one learns to link two or more stimuli and anticipate event (Myers, 2013). Operant conditioning is when we learn by rewards or punishment. Behaviorists believe “mental processes are by-product of environmental events” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011).
Cognitive is the third perspective. It is defined as “the way people perceive, process, and retrieve information” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p.17). The cognitive perspective helps in examining the memory and understanding decision making. Researchers measure memory by asking direct and indirect questions. The common method that is used in the cognitive perspective is experimental.
The underlying assumptions for the cognitive perspective are that it is believed that cognition affects the way we behave. Psychologists believe if they can measure cognition, it can be altered. Thus, changing the cognition can change behavior.
The evolutionary perspective is the last school of thought. “The evolutionary perspective argues that many human behavioral tendencies evolved because they helped our