What Are the Main Perspectives in the Study of Psychology? What Research Methods Are Used to Study These Perspectives?

Topics: Psychology, Sigmund Freud, Humanistic psychology Pages: 8 (2883 words) Published: April 13, 2012
What are the main perspectives in the study of psychology? What research methods are used to study these perspectives? Every topic in psychology can be looked at in a number of different ways and various different approaches can be adopted for each topic. These approaches are known as perspectives (i.e. view) that involve certain assumptions (i.e. beliefs) about human behaviour: the way they function, which aspects of them are worthy of study and what research methods are appropriate for undertaking this study. There may be several different theories within an approach but they all share the above common assumptions. Different perspectives have different research methods. The “Gloria Tapes” of 1975 are a good example of how different perspectives are used to address the same problems in a client’s life, as they are looking at her problems from different viewpoints (http://www.metafilter.com, accessed February 2012). For the purpose of this essay, we will be looking at the five main psychological perspectives. These include the psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioural, biological and humanistic perspectives. A wide range of research methods are used in psychology. In its simplest terms, Martin Shuttleworth (2008) defines research as “In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge” Types of research methods include laboratory and field experiments, case studies, correlations, interviews, observations and questionnaires. These research methods fall into two basic categories: quantitive and qualitive. Qualitative research gathers research that is not in numerical form and is useful for studies at the individual level (i.e. client centred therapy). Quantitive research gathers data in numerical form, which can be put into categories, in order or measured in units of measurement. This type of data can be used to construct graphs and tables of raw data. Experiments typically yield quantitative data (McLeod, S. A. 2007). This essay will now go on to explain the main perspectives in more detail and what different research methods are used for each perspective. The essay will end in a conclusion based on what has been discussed. Sigmund Freud was undoubtedly the main founder of psychodynamics. In 1900 he published his paper “interpretation of dreams” (Gross, R. 2001 page 15). This marked the beginning of psychoanalytical thought. Other psychiatrists who also helped strongly with the psychodynamic movement include Carl Jung, Alfred Adler and Melanie Klein. Freud’s psychoanalysis is the original psychodynamic theory and is based on the belief that events in our childhood can have a significant impact on our behaviour as adults. He believed that people had little free will to make choices in life (opposite to humanism) and instead, our behaviour is determined by the unconscious mind and childhood experiences. Freud explained the human mind like an iceberg, with only a small amount of it being visible (Gross, R. 2001 page 15). Most of our thoughts and ideas are not accessible at that moment (pre – conscious) or are totally inaccessible (unconscious). He used techniques such as free association, dream analysis and transference to unlock the subconscious. Most of our subconscious has been made up through repression, whereby threatening, traumatic or unpleasant experiences are “forgotten” and “locked away”. This is a major form of “ego defence”. Repression is closely related to resistance, interpretation of which is another key technique in psychoanalysis. Freud believed that personality is made up of three components: the id, ego and superego. The id and superego (unconscious) are in constant conflict with the ego (conscious), which tries to resolve this discord. If this conflict is not resolved, we use defence mechanisms to reduce our anxiety. Psychoanalysis attempts to help patients resolve their inner conflicts. The id also contains...
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