Scientific Method and Psychology

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Psychology Pages: 6 (1855 words) Published: June 19, 2006
1."The earliest origins of psychology can be traced back several centuries to the writing of the great philosophers. More than two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote extensively about topics like sleep, dreams, the senses, and memory. He also described the traits and dispositions of different animals. Many of Aristotle's ideas remained influential until the beginnings of modern science in the seventeenth century. At that time, Rene Descartes proposed a doctrine called interactive dualism- the idea that mind and body were separate entities that interact to produce sensations, emotions and other conscious experiences. Today, psychologists continue to debate the relationship between mental activity and the brain. Philosopher's also laid the groundwork for another issue that would become central to psychology- the nature- nurture issue. For centuries, philosopher debated which was more important: the born nature of the individual or the environmental influences that nurture the individual. Psychologists continue to focus on the question, which today is usually framed in terms of heredity versus the environment. Such philosophical discussions influenced the topics that would be considered in psychology. But early philosophers could advance the understanding of human behavior on to certain. Their methods were limited to intuition, observation and logic. The eventual emergence of psychology as a science hinged on advances in the other sciences, particularly physiology. Physiology is a branch of biology that studies the functions and parts of living organisms, including humans. In the 1600's physiologists were becoming interested in the human brain and its relations to behavior. By the early 1700s, tit was discovered that damage to one side of the brain produced loss of function in the opposite side of the body. By the early 1800s, the idea that different brain areas were related to different behavioral functions was being vigorously debate. Collectively, the early scientific discoveries made by physiologists were establishing the foundation for an idea that was to prove critical to the emergences of psychology- namelt, that scientific methods could be applied to issues of human behavior and thinking. By the second half of the 1800s, the stage was set for the emergence of psychology as aditcxint scientific discipline. The leading proponent of this idea was a German physiologist named Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt used scientific methods to study fundamental psychological processes, such as mental reaction times in response to visual or auditory stimuli. For example, Wundt tried to measure precisely how long it took a person to consciously detect the sight and sound of a bell being struck. A major turning point in psychology occurred in 1874, when Wundt published his book. In this book, Wundt outlines the connection between physiology and psychology. He also promoted his belief that psychology should be established as a separate scientific discipline that would use experimental methods to study mental processes. A few years later in 1879, Wundt realized that goal when he opened his first psychology research laboratory. Many regard this event as marking the formal beginning of psychology an experimental science. Behaviorsism

The course of psychology changed dramatically in the early 1900s when another approach, alled behaviorsm, emerged as a dominateg force. Behaviorism rejevted the emphasis on consciousness promted by structuralism and functionalism. It also flatly rejected Freuadian notion about unconscious influences. Instead, behavioursism conteneded that psychology should focus its scientific investigatons strictly on overt behavior-observable behaviors that could be objected =ively measured and verified. Behaviorsim is yet another example of the influencing of physiology on psychology. Behavirosm grew out of the pionerring work of a Russian physioloists named Ivlov Pavlov. Pavlov demonstrated that dogs could...
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