Foundations of Psychology

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Evolutionary psychology Pages: 6 (980 words) Published: July 22, 2015

Foundations of Psychology
Beverley Austin
University of Phoenix
General Psychology
Betsy Ferronato
November 07, 2011

Foundations of Psychology
The purpose of this essay is to identify the major schools of thought in psychology, which are “the psychodynamic, behaviorist, cognitive, and evolutionary perspectives” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 12) and examine their major underlying assumptions. Additionally, to identify the primary biological foundations of psychology linked to behavior. Psychodynamic

The Psychodynamic perspective was developed by Sigmund Freud and is based upon three major points. “First, people’s actions are determined by the way thoughts, feelings, and wishes are connected in their minds. Second, many of these mental events occur outside of conscious awareness. And third, these mental processes may conflict with one another, leading to compromises among competing motives. Thus, people are unlikely to know precisely the chain of psychological events that leads to their conscious thoughts, intentions, feelings, or behaviors.” (Kowalski & Westen, 2009, p. 12) Some of the major assumptions of the Psychodynamic perspective are: “* Our behaviour and feelings are powerfully affected by unconscious motives. * Our behaviour and feelings as adults (including psychological problems) are rooted in our childhood experiences. * All behaviour has a cause (usually unconscious), even slips of the tongue. Therefore all behaviour is determined. * Personality is made up of three parts (i.e. tripartite). The id, ego and super-ego. * Behaviour is motivated by two instinctual drives: Eros (the sex drive & life instinct) and Thanatos (the aggressive drive & death instinct). Both these drives come from the “id”. * Parts of the unconscious mind (the id and superego) are in constant conflict with the conscious part of the mind (the ego). * Personality is shaped as the drives are modified by different conflicts at different times in childhood (during psychosexual development).” (Mcleod, 2007, ¶ 7) Behaviorist

The Behaviorist perspective was an accidental discovery by Ivan Pavlov sometime in the early twentieth century and was later taken up by John Watson. It is most known for being further developed by B.F. Skinner. The major assumptions of Behavioral perspectives are:

“There is no mind/body dualism - Everything we do is related to behavior not the mind. Reactions are observable and measurable.
Discovering stimuli that cause behavior (associations between stimulus and response) will allow us to predict/control behavior. Learners are not passive; they take an active role in their environment (learn by doing, experiencing, and engaging in trial and error). Learning is the change in behavior due to experience.

Responses are the result of our experiences - they are not innate. Internal mental processing explanation of behavior are circular and regressive and are to be avoided.” (, p. 2)

The Cognitive perspective is based upon knowledge from Greek philosophers and worked upon by various people through the ages, but the man who started the train rolling was Wilhelm Wundt. (Penn State, 2009) Some of the underlying assumptions of the Cognitive perspective are: “•Cognitive psychology is a pure science, based mainly on laboratory experiments. •Behaviour can be largely explained in terms of how the mind operates, i.e. the information processing approach. •The mind works in a way similar to a computer: inputting, storing and retrieving data. •Mediational processes occur between stimulus and response.” (Mcleod, 2007, table 1) Evolutionary (also called Biological)

The Evolutionary perspective has been worked on for many years. While some of the original insight did come from Charles Darwin, he was not the developer or father of this theory. Other major key influencers in this realm were Jane Goodall and Edward Wilson, but the real focus was...

References: Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology 5E (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc..
Mcleod, S. A. (2007). Simply Psychology; Psychodynamic Approach in Psychology. Retrieved November 7, 2011, from
Penn State, (2009). Behaviorism: Assumptions [Online notes]. Retrieved from INSYS 581 Knowledge Base Web site:
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