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Old Monday, September 17, 2012
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Q:1-Define Psychology and write in brief about various schools of thought in psychology? (Marsks 20)

What is Psychology?
Psychology is the science of the mind and behaviour. The word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psyche meaning "breath, spirit, soul", and the Greek word logia meaning the study of something. In the old ages the sum of this whole word was known as 'study of soul'. For the sake of better understanding of what does mean by psychology few of the definitions by various researchers have been given below:

Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice. (The British Psychological Society)

The scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes. (American Psychological Association)

Psychology is an academic and applied discipline involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. (Wikipedia)

The constant theme across these definitions is that psychology is fundamentally concerned with understanding Behavior (colclusion).

However, according to the modern psychologists the simplicity of the definition that attribute psychology with behaviour is somewhat deceiving and conceals the broad scope of subject. Most of the psychologists are of the view the definition of psychology should not be confined to the study of behaviour in its simple way. Rather, they argue that the field should be receptive to a variety of viewpoints and approaches. Consequently, the phrase behaviour and metal processes in the defintion of psychology must be understood to mean many things: It encompasses not just what people do but also their perceptions, emotions, thoughts, reasoning processes, memories and even the biological processes maintaining body functions.

Psychologists explore concepts such as perception, cognition, attention, emotion, phenomenology, motivation, brain functioning, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Psychologists of diverse stripes also consider the unconscious mind as well as help to change and improve the lives of people and the world in which they live. They use scientific methods to answers that are far more valid and legitimate than those resulting from speculation.

school of thoughts of psychology..
The phrase 'school of thought' means for a particular idea or set of ideas held by a specific group; doctrine. Any idea that a group strongly believes in, be it through practising this idea in their everyday life or through fighting for its adoption, can be considered a school of thought. There are several school of thoughts for the purpose of studying psychology. Each of them views this subject from different perspective and makes its own effort to define a particular phenomenon related to human behaviour. Sometimes it appears that each of them has its unique position and importance, for no single school of thought is able to define controversies and complexities concerned with defining human behaviour. The combination of two, or sometime, more work appropriately. An attempt of defining different school of thoughts have been made below:

The early school of thoughts.
Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components. Major structuralist thinkers include Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener. The focus of structuralism was on reducing mental processes down into their most basic elements. Structuralists used techniques such as introspection to analyze the inner processes of the human mind.

The perspective that replaced structualism is known as functionalism. Rather than focusing on the mind's structure, functionalism concentrated on what the mind does and how behaviour functions.Major functionalist thinkers included william james, John Dewey and Harvey Carr.

Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt psychology is a school of psychology based upon the idea that we experience things as unified wholes. This approach to psychology began in Germany and Austria during the late 19th century in response to the molecular approach of structuralism. Instead of breaking down thoughts and behavior to their smallest elements, the gestalt psychologists believed that you must look at the whole of experience. According to the gestalt thinkers, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

One thing is noteworthy that all the psychologist irrespective of their doctrines share a common goal: that is to explain and understand behaviour using scientific methods rather than philosophical abstractions. In the view of this fact and due to complex nature of human behaviour the psychology is an ever developing field. The modern perspectives/ school of thoughts of psychology have their roots in the ancient periods but they are however different from them in their approach and other respects. The modern school of thoughts are following:

Modern school of thoughts

1--The neuroscience perspective.
Biological psychology or behavioral neuroscience is the study of the biological substrates of behavior and mental processes. The neuroscience perspective considers how people and nonhumans function biologically: how individual nerve cells are joined together, how the inheritance of certain characteristics from parents and other ancestors influence behaviour, how functioning of the body affects hopes and fears, which behaviours are instinctual, and likewise.
Because every behaviour ultimately can be broken down into its biological components, the neuroscience perspective has broad appeal. Neuroscientists have made major contributions to the understanding and betterment of human life.

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

John B. Watson
Ivan Pavlov
B. F. Skinner
Behaviorism suggests that all behavior can be explained by environmental causes rather than by internal forces. Behaviorism is focused on observable behavior. Theories of learning including classical conditioning and operant conditioning were the focus of a great deal of research.

3--Psychoanalysis or psychodynamic
Psychoanalysis is a school of psychology founded by Sigmund Freud. This school of thought emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Supporters of the psychodyanmic perspective argue that behaviour is motivated by inner forces about which we have little awareness and are almost out of our control. Freud's school of thought was enormously influential, but also generated a great deal of controversy. This controversy existed not only in his time, but also in modern discussions of Freud's theories.

4--Cognitive Psychology
Cognitive psychology is the school of psychology that studies mental processes including how people think, perceive, remember and learn. As part of the larger field of cognitive science, this branch of psychology is related to other disciplines including neuroscience, philosophy and linguistics. Cognitive psychology began to emerge during the 1950s, partly as a response to behaviorism. This period of time is sometimes referred to as the "cognitive revolution" as a wealth of research on topics such as information processing, language, memory and perception began to emerge. Many psychologists who stick to the cognitive school of thought compare human thinking to the workings of a computer, which takes in information and transforms, stores, and retrieves it.

5--Humanistic perspective..

Humanistic psychology developed as a response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Humanistic psychology instead focused on individual free will, personal growth and the concept of self-actualization. While early schools of thought were largely centered on abnormal human behavior, humanistic psychology differed considerably in its emphasis on helping people achieve and fulfil their potential.
Major humanist thinkers include:
Abraham Maslow
Carl Rogers.
Humanistic psychology remains quite popular today and has had a major influence on other areas of psychology including positive psychology. This particular branch of psychology is centered on helping people living happier, more fulfilling lives.

Final analysis..

As one considers the many topics and perspectives that make up Psychology, ranging from a narrow focus biochemical influences on behavior to a broad focus on social behaviors, one might find himself thinking that the discipline lacks cohesion. However, the field is more unified than the first glimpse might suggest. It does make a little difference what area a pscyhologist studying of and what perspective he is adhering to, the primary goal of each of them is to address the primary issues connected to human behavior. Psychologist are also agree on what the key issues of the field are. Although there are major arguments regarding how best to address and resolve the key issues, psychology is a unified science, because psychologists of all perspectives agree that the issues must be addressed if the field is going to get advanced.
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