October Fifth, 2009
University of Phoenix
Psychology Perspectives and the Biological Foundations of the Brain Psychology is the scientific investigations of the mental processes such as: behavior, thought, and emotions. Emerging from philosophy and biology, psychology revolutionized the way scientists study the human brain. Wilhelm Wundt, the “father of psychology,” applied scientific research and experiments to unravel the elements of the human conscious (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). In the following years of the “new psychology,” scientists separate themselves from the philosophical theory and emerged into the science of psychology (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). This essay will describe how biological foundations of psychology are linked to behavior and will also explain and define a few schools of psychological thought: structuralism, functionalism, cognitive, behaviorism, psychodynamic, and evolutionary. Psychology is the study of the human mind and the key to unlocking the secrets are the scientists who research and experiment to prove their theory. Structuralism centers on breaking down the mental process into basic conscious elements by way of the introspection analysis. Structuralism was the first school of thought founded by Edward E. Titchener. Teichener believes the study of psychology is to view how the conscious mind works. Tiechener also believed that he could classify and define the structures of the brain into elements much like chemists classify elements in the periodic table (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). However, structuralism is different from the functionalism school of psychology. Instead of defining the elements of the brain, functionalism accentuates the purpose of consciousness and behavior. Founded by William James, functionalism was sought to define the contents of the mind and effectively explain it by the influence of the evolutionary theory outlined by Charles Darwin (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Structuralism and functionalism were the first two schools of thought that play a major role in the scientific study of psychology, but were also followed by more profound scientific theories. The psychodynamic perspective, developed by Sigmund Freud, centers on the dynamic interactions of psychological forces of the conscious and unconscious mind (Dr. C. George Boeree, 2007, 2006, 2009). The psychodynamic perspective is separated into three main elements: connections between emotional forces, interior forces affecting behavior, and the compromise among opposing motive (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). For example, a women’s entire immediate family had been in a car crash a few months earlier. The woman suffers from irrational guilt and will not leave the comfort of her own home. Her actions indicate that her unconscious motives were taking control over her action. Freud believed that people have unconscious motive that facilitates their conscious intention. Freud lacked using the scientific method in refining his hypotheses; such data would have been useful in later experimental testing because psychodynamic psychologists rely primarily on case study analysis to support their theories. The psychodynamic perspectives are criticized because the theory lacks empirical support. However, psychodynamic perspectives do not primarily study the behavior and the personality of a person by rather the entire person. The behaviorist perspective, pioneered by B.F. Skinner and John Watson, observes the behavioral and environmental connections in humans and animals (Kowalski & Westen, 2009). Behavior psychologists believe that animal and human behaviors are attributed through learning. During Skinners research, he examined that the behavior of all life forms can be controlled by the environment and also believed that all behavior is the product of punishment and reward (Bonnie Drumwright, n.d.). For...