Psychology can be defined as the scientific process by which behavior and mental processes are studied and categorized. The roots, of which date, back to classical Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle. The defining difference between the two schools of thought has become knows as “nature v. nurture.” Plato advocated nature, known as nativist view, which seeks to define one's actions based on the assumption that we are endowed with certain, intrinsic modes of behavior. Alternately, Aristotle advocated nurture, known as the empiricist view, which asserts one's behavior is dictated by what one is taught and experiences through life. This debate still continues to this day, in one form or another.
The next evolution of psychology did not come until the later 19th century, with Wilhelm Wundt, when the first formal laboratory devoted to experimental psychology was founded in Leipzig, Germany. The two approaches birthed from this founding came to be known as structuralism and functionalism. Structuralism was based on the principle that human mental experiences could be understood as the combination of basic components of sensation and experience and focused, primarily, on the structure of the mind and human behavior. Functionalism, on the other hand, gave primary importance to how the mind and behavior act as a function of and organism's interaction with it's environment. Despite their differences, however, both approaches laid the foundation for what we think of today as contemporary psychology.
The modern perspectives that were devised from the two approaches were: psychodynamic, behaviorist, humanistic, cognitive, biological, evolutionary, and sociocultural. Each of these perspectives focus on a different region of human behavior and their influences. By reviewing what each perspective has to contribute to a psychological question we can more fully develop an informed opinion.
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