The Birth of Modern Psychology

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The birth of modern psychology
by Melissa Fichter
Northcentral University

The birth of modern psychology

The timeline of modern psychology is split into three forces. Due to its profound effect on experimental psychology, behaviorism is known as the first force. The second force includes the Freudian school, which uses subjective psychoanalysis to explore unconscious mind. The third force places more importance on the conscious mind, and attempts to objectively explain human behavior (Shaffer, 1978). Humanistic, cognitive, and positive psychology share these ideals; however, the flux of technological advances supports that cognitive psychology will have a lasting effect in psychology well into the twenty-first century. Key ideas

Humanistic Psychology
At the core of humanism is phenomenology, which embraces subjective rather than objective reality (Bugental, 1964). As explained by Rogers (1951), the subjective realities form one’s phenomenal field. Rarely does the subjective reality match the objective reality; for example, two people often experience conflicts in communication because of differences in each of their subjective reality. The goal of the humanist is to bring those individual realities into one complete objective reality (Schneider & Krug, 2010). The humanists revived the personalists’ principle of teleology, embracing free will and self-fulfillment. According to Abraham Maslow (1943), to reach the ideal potential of the self, all physiological, esteem, love, and safety needs must be fulfilled. Self-actualizers show empathy for all human nature, challenge the status quo, and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. They make intelligent choices that satisfy their basic needs, and they become the manifestation of their full potential (p. 373).

Cognitive Psychology
The key idea in cognitive psychology is that human process information much like a computer (Schultz & Schultz, 2012). In information processing, the environment is the input, transformed by the senses into stored or retrieved data. In turn, this data dictates a behavioral output (McLeod, 2007). Researchers study how memory, attention, and perception act as processors of brain activity. The human mind can focus attention on a minimal amount of tasks; if over-stimulated, each additional stimulus becomes a distraction to the original task (Miller, 1956). Cognitive psychologists prefer reductionism to rather than holism to explain human behavior. Reductionism follows the scientific principle of Occam’s razor: the simplest explanation is often the best when describing complex ideas (Sternberg. 2008). Breaking down complex ideas yield simple behaviors that can be scientifically tested. These tests, including neurochemical and neuroimaging techniques identify mental illness through recognizing chemical imbalances and lapses in brain function (Sternberg. 2008).

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology was designed to help people live a more fulfilling life by using the scientific method to identify sources of happiness and self-worth. Laboratory experiments studied the factors that contribute to happiness, such as: age, intelligence, wealth, social ties, and weather (Snyder & Lopez, 2001). Based on the findings, researchers concluded that happiness is dictated by three types of lifestyles. The pleasant life examines how positive feelings counter the physical effects of stress; for example, physical exercise fights a compromised immune system. When experiencing the good life, personal accomplishments decrease depression. Finally, the meaningful life provides a sense of belonging through involvement in social groups; in addition, people experience happiness when adhering to their moral code (Snyder & Lopez, 2001).

Historical Relativity
Humanistic Psychology
Humanism emerged after World War II, as economic and political hardship drove people to seek freedom. Humanism supported the provision of...
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