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Running Header: BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY
Biological Psychology Paper
University of Phoenix
Biological psychology, as defined by the New World Encyclopedia, "is the application of the principles of biology to the study of mental processes and behavior". In other words, it is the study of psychology in terms of bodily mechanisms.(New World Encyclopedia). Most processes associated with psychology have some sort of correlation with biological/physiological processes. The field of Biological psychology is based on this assumption or view.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW AND KEY PLAYERS IN ITS EARLY DEVELOPMENT
Avicenna (980-1037) is a Persian psychologist and recognized physiological psychology in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions. He recognized the importance of physiological psychology and applied it to treat various illnesses related to emotions. Gradually, he came up with a way where irregularities in the pulse rate could be associated with inner feelings. It later on paved way to the word association test which is used in the field of psychology even to this day. Apart from this, he also provided psychological explanations for various somatic illnesses. Thus, he was able to link the physical and psychological aspects of various illnesses.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650) proposed models to explain animal and human behavior. He proposed theories linking the mind and body and explanations for motor behavior (reflexes). He was a pioneer in identifying the mind with consciousness and self-awareness. He was also able to differentiate it from the brain.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) described the nature of evolutionary theory. It describes the way in which our bodies and behaviors change across many generations of individuals. He proposed the theory of Natural Selection, the evolutionary principle describing a mechanism by which organisms have developed and changed, based on the principle of "the survival of the fittest". He demonstrated the idea that genetics and evolution play a role in influencing human behavior.
Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) performed breeding experiments on common varieties of the garden pea plants. He proposed the theory of genetic inheritance and formulated the laws of inheritance.
RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHER FIELDS IN PSYCHOLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE
A large volume of data in psychology comes from subjects such as mice and monkeys. This means that biological psychology has a close relationship with other disciplines such as neurobiology, comparative psychology, evolutionary psychology, evolutionary studies and other fields of neuroscience such as neuropsychology. This area of research is focused on the behavior of humans and non-humans with certain nervous system dysfunctions.
UNDERLYING ASSUMPTIONS OF A BIO-PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH
The early behaviorists held the empty slate view of human behavior (nurture side of the nature-nurture controversy). They were reacting to the introspective school of thought and focused strictly on observable behavior. They argued that environment drives behavior (i.e., rewards, punishments. tokens, etc.). This is reductionist, however, as it focused only on external determinants of behavior (i.e., empty slate theory of human nature), which is an animal model of human behavior (e.g., rats will behave for a reward of food; therefore people will behave the same). In other words, for the behaviorist, the biological influences (although not denied) have little or no impact on behavior; the environment (i.e., behavioral modification programs, etc.) is all-important and shapes and influences behavior so if you reinforce desired behavior and not reinforce undesired behavior, the student/person s/he will behave as desired and expected. There is some truth to this, but there is much more to the human biology, which influences psychology (intellectual development, genetics, hormones, brain...
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