Schools of Psychology

Schools of psychology

Psychology when developed as a Science and got parted from biology and philosophy, the discussion over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. The different schools of psychology signify the chief theories within psychology.

The following are some of the major schools of thought that have swayed one’s knowledge and understanding of psychology.

Structuralism and Functionalism: Early schools of thought

Structuralism was considered the first school of thought in psychology. It concentrates on breaking down the cognitive processes into the most basic components. Major theorists who contributed in the field of structuralism were Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener. Introspection was the technique used by structuralists to examine the inner processes of the human mind.

 Functionalism focused as a reaction to the theories of structuralism’s school of thought and was greatly influenced by the efforts of William James.  It functioned on the mind’s function and adaptations. Functionalism is not linked with a single theorist. Instead, there is some different functionalist thinkers were also allied with the work of William James and they were John Dewey, James Rowland Angell, and Harvey Carr. Rather than focusing on the mental processes themselves, functionalist thinkers were instead interested in the role that these processes play.

Gestalt psychology: Gestalt psychology is a school of psychology based upon the concept that we experience things as Whole. This approach began in Germany and Austria during the late 19th century in reaction to the molecular approach of structuralism. Gestalt psychologists believed that he we must look at the whole of experience. According to Gestalists, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Behaviorist school of thought: It became a dominant school of thought during the 1950’s. It was based upon the work of thinkers such as:

John B. Watson

Ivan Pavlov

B.F. Skinner

Behaviorism is focused on observable behavior. Theories of learning including classical conditioning were the focus of a great deal of research.  The behavioral school of psychology had a great impact on the course of psychology, and many of the ideas and techniques that arose from this school of thought are largely used today. Behavioral training, token economies, aversion therapy, and other techniques are commonly used in psychotherapy and behavior modification programs.

The Psychoanalytic School of Thought: Sigmund Freud founded the Psychoanalytical school of thought. This school of thought focused on the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed that the human mind was comprised of three elements: the id, ego, and superego. The id consists of primary urges while the ego is the component of personality charged with dealing with reality. The Superego is the part of the personality that holds all of the ideals and values we adopt from our parents and culture. Freud believed that the collaborations of these three elements were led to all of the complex human behaviors.

Humanistic School: This school established as a response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Humanistic psychology rather focused on individual free- will, personal growth and the concept of self- actualization. Humanistic psychology differed greatly in its emphasis on helping people archive and fulfill their potential. This is the only branch of psychology that emphases on helping people living happier, more fulfilling lives.

Cognitive School of psychology: Cognitive psychology is the school of psychology that examine cognitive processes including how people think, perceive, remember and learn. Cognitive psychology emerged during the 1950’s partly as a response to behaviorism. This period is sometimes referred to as the “cognitive revolution” as a wealth of research on topics such as information processing, language, memory, and perception that began to emerge.

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