UNDERSTANDING HUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 2 AbstractThis paper will explorepsychology from beginning to present and all it’s extensive makeup in between.We will begin with the history of psychology and explore its past roots thatlead to where the field is today. Next, we will look at the major approaches inthe contemporary field of psychology. I will also discuss psychology’s well-knownkey issues and controversies. Lastly, we will explore just what the future ofpsychology will hold.
What are the origins of psychology?It is said that thefield of psychology can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. They consideredthe mind a topic for contemplation. Philosophers would later argue for hundredsof years over some of the same things psychologist still argue about today.
Forexample, philosopher John Locke of the 17th century suggested theblank slate theory. His belief was that children were born with minds like ablank slate and that the experiences they had determined who they would becomein adulthood. Then there was Rene’ Descartes who argued that we are indeed bornwith some knowledge that is inborn. The formal beginning ofthe field of psychology did not begin until the 19th century though.Wilhelm Wundt from Leipzig Germany established the first experimental laboratorydevoted to the study of psychology.
Wundt considered psychology a study of theconscious mind. His perspective became known as structuralism. Structuralismfocused on the elements of consciousness, perception, thinking, emotion, andother mental activities. He and other structuralist used a procedure calledintrospection which is a procedure that presents the subject UNDERSTANDINGHUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 3with a stimulus and askthe subject to describe the stimulus in their own words. Other Psychologisteventually began to question Wundt’s work. They were not satisfied thatintrospection revealed the structures of the mind.
The perspective thatwould later replace structuralism was functionalism. Functionalism focuses onwhat the mind does and how behavior functions. William James one majorfunctionalist examined how behavior enables people to satisfy their needs andhow our stream consciousness thinking allows us to adapt to our environment.John Dewey drew from functionalism and developed the field of schoolpsychology, encouraging new ways for the schools to meet the educational needsof their students. Another important reaction to structuralism was thedevelopment of Gestalt Psychology. In the early 1900’s this development emphasizedhow perception is organized.
What are the major approaches incontemporary psychology?Today the field ofpsychology contains five major perspectives. These perspectives include:Neuroscience, Psychodynamic, Behavioral, Cognitive, and Humanistic. Theseperspectives shine light on different aspects of behavior and mental processes.
The Neuroscienceperspective considers how people and non-humans function biologically. Itstudies how individual nerve cells are joined and how the characteristics of parentsand other ancestors effect behaviors. Because behavior can be broken down intobiological components, the neuroscience perspective has a broad appeal. The Psychodynamicperspective argues that behavior is motivated by inner forces and conflicts aboutwhich have little awareness or control. It views dreams and slips of the tongueas UNDERSTANDINGHUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 4indications of what theperson is truly feeling.
The psychodynamic perspective is linked to one person,Sigmund Freud. Freud was a physician in the early 1900’s whose ideas about theunconscious mind factors of behavior had a sweeping effect on 20thcentury psychology and related fields. Although some of Freud’s originalconcepts have been criticized, his contemporary psychodynamic perspective givesa way to understand and treat some kinds of psychological disorders. It alsohelps to understand prejudice and aggression.The Behavioralperspective was formed out of rejection of psychology’s early push on the innerworkings of the mind. This perspective suggests that observable, measurablebehavior should be the focus of study. John B.
Watkins was the firstpsychologist to advocate the behavioral approach. In the 1920’s Watson wasadamant in his view that you could gain complete understanding of behavior bystudying and modifying the environment in which one operates. John Watsonbelieve that it was possible to bring out any desired behavior by controllingthe person’s environment. A great deal of our understanding about how peoplelearn new behaviors is based on the behavioral perspective.
The CognitivePerspective focuses on how people think, understand, and know about the world.It emphasizes a learning of how people comprehend and represent the worldwithin themselves and how our way of thinking about the world effects ourbehavior. Psychologist that adhere to the cognitive perspective compare humanthinking to that of a computer that takes in information and transforms,stores, and retrieves that information. The HumanisticPerspective suggest that all individuals naturally work to grow, develop, andbe in control of their own lives and behaviors. This perspective maintains thateach of us have the UNDERSTANDINGHUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 4ability to seek andreach fulfillment.
Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow were central figures thedevelopment of the humanistic perspective. The emphasis of this perspective isfree will and the ability to make decisions about one’s own life and behavior ratherthan relying on social standards. Morethan any other approach the behavioral perspective stresses the role ofphycology in the enrichment of people’s lives.What are psychology’s key issuesand controversies?It seems Psychologistcan agree on the key issues/controversies of psychology which are nature(heredity)vs. nature(environment), conscious vs. unconscious causes of behavior,observable behavior vs. internal mental processes, free will vs. determinism,and lastly individual differences vs.
universal principles. Psychologist allagree that these issues must be addressed in order to further the field ofpsychology. First is the field ofnature(heredity) vs.
nature(environment). This key issue addresses how much ofan individual’s behavior is genetically determined nature or heredity and howmuch is because of nurture or the influences of physical and social environmenta child is raised in. It also takes a look at the interplay of heredity andenvironment. Psychologist do agree that neither nature nor nurture alonedetermines an individual’s behavior. Next up is consciousvs. unconscious causes of behavior. This controversy takes a look at how muchof an individual’s behavior is produced by things in which we are fully awareand how much is due to unconscious activity. Clinical psychologist argue thatpsychological disorders are brought on by unconscious elements however,psychologist suggest that they are a result of flawed thinking processes.
UNDERSTANDINGHUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 5Following is observablebehavior vs. internal mental processes. This key issue begs the question,should psychology focus solely on behaviors that can be seen or unseen thinkingprocesses? Some psychologist especially the ones who depend on the behavioralperspective, assert that the only source of information is behavior that can beobserved directly.
Other psychologist with the cognitive perspective wouldargue that the processes that take place inside a person’s mind is crucial tothe understanding of behavior.Free will vs.determinism is another key controversy. This issue looks at how much of ourbehavior is a factor of our own free will and how much of it is a matter ofdeterminism (behavior is beyond willful control).
Some psychologist contend thatindividuals with psychological disorders make intentional choices while otherwould argue that these said individuals fall prey to forces beyond theircontrol.Another key issue isindividual differences verses universal principle. This issue considers howmuch of our behavior is a result of our unique qualities and how much is resultof the culture and society we live in. Psychologist who rely on neuroscience lookat how the nervous system works and similar behavioral fates despite differentchildhoods. Other psychologist who focus on the humanistic perspective relymore on an individuals distinct and unique qualities. What is the future of psychologylikely to hold?Specific developmentsin psychology are difficult to predict.
But, as the knowledge grow the fieldwill become more specialized. Our understanding of the brain and nervoussystems are ever growing and combined with genetics, this will allowpsychologist to concentrate on preventing disorders. The evolution ofneuroscience approaches is surely to have an increase in impact over UNDERSTANDINGHUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECTIONS PAPER 6all the branches ofpsychology.
The field of psychology’s influence on issues of interest such asterrorism, violence, and racial prejudices will undoubtedly grow in the future.Lastly, as our society becomes more diverse, the study of racial, ethnic, andcultural elements will increase in importance. The results of all this will bea psychology field that can understand human behavior in the broadest of sense.ConclusionThe field of psychologyis an ever changing and ever evolving science that has been long contemplated.
From it’s earliest roots within the ancient Greeks to the modern perspectivesof psychology the longing to understand and grow in knowledge of who we are andwhat makes us that way is and has been a plateau for differing perspectives,opinions, and controversies. The knowledge that is gained in the future is sureto put some to rest while it promotes other ideas and philosophies. I believethat Psychology could be summed up as the search for the story behind thestory.