Today, few psychologists identify their outlook according to a particular school of thought. While you may still find some pure behaviorists or psychoanalysts, the majority of psychologists instead categorize their work according to their specialty area and perspective.
Every topic in psychology can be looked at in a number of different ways. For example, let's consider the subject of aggression. Someone who emphasizes a biological perspective would look at the how the brain and nervous system impact aggressive behavior. A professional who stresses a behavioral perspective would look at how environmental variables reinforce aggressive actions. Another psychologist who utilizes a cross-cultural approach might consider how cultural and social influences contribute to aggressive or violent behaviors.
The following are just a few of the major perspectives in modern psychology.
The Psychodynamic Perspective
The psychodynamic perspective originated with the work of Sigmund Freud. This view of psychology and human behavior emphasizes the role of the unconscious mind, early childhood experiences, and interpersonal relationships to explain human behaviour and to treat people suffering from mental illnesses.
The Behavioral Perspective
Behavioral psychology is a perspective that focuses on learned behaviors. Behaviorism differed from many other perspectives because instead of emphasizing internal states, it focused solely on observable behaviors.
While this school of thought dominated psychology early in the twentieth century, it began to lose its hold during the 1950s. Today, the behavioral perspective is still concerned with how behaviors are learned and reinforced. Behavioral principles are often applied in mental health settings, where therapists and counselors use these techniques to explain and treat a variety of illnesses.
The Cognitive Perspective
During the 1960s, a new perspective known as cognitive psychology began to take hold. This...
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