Foundations of psychology

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Nervous system Pages: 5 (1289 words) Published: November 9, 2013


Foundations of Psychology
Robert N Guthrie
PSY 300
November 3, 2013
Emmett Lampkin
Foundations of Psychology
Psychology is the scientific study of mental processes and behavior(Kowalski & Westen, 2011). To understand an individual, one must learn of the individual’s biology, psychological experience, and cultural context(Kowalski & Westen, 2011). With this paper, one will learn of the different schools of thoughts associated with psychology and their most underlying assumptions. One will also learn of the primary biological foundations of psychology and their link to behavior. Schools of Thought

In 1879, Wilhelm Wundt founded the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig, Germany(Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Wundt hoped to learn how people form complex ideas by studying human consciousness. The method used to obtain this information was introspection. With introspection, subjects reported every idea or thought that entered their mind as they finished tasks. From this method, one would uncover an individual’s mental process. “By varying the objects presented to his observers and recording their responses, he concluded that the basic elements of consciousness are sensations (such as colors) and feelings” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 9). Ultimately, he discovered that the basic elements of consciousness combine to form complex perceptions and ideas. With an understanding of a variety of methods it can open one’s eyes from a bias view to a well-rounded view of human behavior and psychological behaviors one my experience (Malin, p.201) Structuralism

With the lessons of introspection in place, Edward Titchener, a student of Wilhelm Wundt, used this foundation to create the school of thought known as structuralism. Structuralism “attempted to use introspection as a method for uncovering the basic elements of consciousness and the way they combine with each other into ideas” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 9). Although Wundt never believed in using experimentation to obtain psychological knowledge, Titchener believed experimentation was the only method to use to study the science of psychology (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Basically, through experimentation, Titchener hoped to discover how the mental process created ideas through genuine observations rather than perceptions. Functionalism

As developed, another school of thought emerged known as functionalism. Developed by Harvard psychologist William James, functionalism “looks at explanations of psychological processes in terms of their role, or function, in helping the individual adapt to the environment” (Kowalski & Westen, 2011, p. 10). James’ founded functionalism with the belief that consciousness served a purpose. James speculated that processes of human consciousness, like thinking, feeling, learning, and remembering, existed to assist in the survival of the human species. Psychodynamic Perspective

Sigmund Freud developed the psychodynamic perspective based on three premises. The first premise suggests that an individual’s actions determine how thoughts, feelings, and wishes connect in the mind. The second premise suggests that a large number of mental events occur outside conscious awareness. The third premise suggests that an individual’s mental processes may conflict with one another. However, this could result in a compromise with competing motives. Basically, Freud believed that individuals do not know how their consciousness evolved to create thoughts, behaviors, and feelings. This perspective employs the use of case studies involving in-depth observations among small groups (Kowalski & Westen, 2011). Constructs incorporated, but no limited to, defense mechanisms, complexes, fixations, identity crisis. Methods used in this perspective are things like dream interpretation, hypnotism with many others. The goal is to help people understand their own personal motives. Primarily used in the clinical psychology approach...
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