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The Origins Of Psychology Essay

1486 words - 6 pages

The understanding of ourselves and the humans around us has been studied by many great historical scholars such as Aristotle and Descartes. Scholars like these would ask psychological questions about what drives us and why. It was not until the late nineteenth century that psychological research was considered as its own scientific discipline. Psychology began in 1879 when a man named Wilhelm Wundt set up a psychology laboratory in Leipzig, Germany. This laboratory would be considered the birth place of experimental psychology.
Within the laboratory, Wundt independently trained over 180 students. Over 100 of these students came from other countries, and then returned to their native countries with the knowledge of experimental psychology. Of the one-hundred, Edward Titchener returned to the United States and set up his own psychological laboratory at Cornell University. Titchener`s idea was to identify the basic building blocks of the mind. This was later to be known as Structuralism. (Feist and Rosenberg)
Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and it tried to break mental processes in to basic parts. Introspection was used to understand basic levels of consciousness. Structuralism is important because it strongly influenced experimental psychology. (Feist and Rosenberg) Structuralism itself did not last long as a school due to the fact that it was concerned with internal behavior that can`t be observed or measured
Functionalism was formed as a direct reaction from structuralism. Functionalism was greatly influenced by the works of William James and Charles Darwin`s evolutionary theory. Instead of focusing of the elements of consciousness, Functionalism focuses on the purpose of consciousness and its behavior in a more systematic and accurate manner. (Cherry) An American scholar, William James expanded the traditional view of psychology to animals and their behaviors and opened the first psychology laboratory at Harvard University in the late 1870s. (Huffman)
The psychoanalytic approach to psychology began in Europe during the late 1800s and early 1900s by Austrian physician Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that the unconscious mind contained thoughts and memories that were outside of personal awareness. (Feist and Rosenberg) According to Freud, childhood events shape the way we behave as adults and because of this much of human behavior is an effect of our unconscious thoughts and past experiences. Psychoanalysis was developed as both a theory and a therapy that inspired psychologists to come to develop other psychodynamic theories. (Mcleod)
There are seven major perspectives of modern psychology; psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, biological, evolutionary, and sociocultural. (Feist and Rosenberg) Behavioral psychology was founded by John B. Watson who believed that conditioning explains how behaviors are a result of observable stimuli. Much of the research done in this field consisted of experiments that studied...

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