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A Brief History of Psychology. Or Psychology’s very brief history!. Philosophical Beginnings . It is most likely that people have always wanted to understand why they think, feel and behave the way they do. Psychology as a profession however did not emerge until the late 1800’s. .

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A brief history of psychology

A Brief History of Psychology

Or Psychology’s very brief history!

Philosophical beginnings
Philosophical Beginnings

  • It is most likely that people have always wanted to understand why they think, feel and behave the way they do.

  • Psychology as a profession however did not emerge until the late 1800’s.

Philosophical beginnings1
Philosophical Beginnings

  • The origins of psychology are often traced back to the writings of ancient philosophers Socrates (470 – 399BC), Plato (428 – 337BC) and Aristotle (384 – 322BC).

  • This philosophers wrote about and debated many topics still important in psychology today such as feelings, behaviours, dreams, good and evil, the relationship between the mind and body, etc. The nature vs. nurture debate began with these ancient philosophers.

Scientific beginnings
Scientific Beginnings

  • While the philosophers had many ideas about psychological topics without the scientific method and experimentation they had no way of testing their ideas to see if they were correct. Many believed that mental processes could not be studied because they could not be seen or measured.

  • In the 1800s German scientists began studying the brain and nervous system. One in particular, Hermann von Helmholtz (1821 – 1894) was able to measure the speed of neural impulses. His work proved that scientific methods could be applied to the study of mental processes.

Wilhelm wundt structuralism
Wilhelm Wundt- Structuralism

  • The credit for the emergence of psychology as a separate discipline officially belongs to German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920) who, in 1879, opened the first Psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig.

  • The focus of his work and the purpose of his laboratory was to study the structure of the mind and consciousness. This focus became known as structuralism.

  • He believed that the mind could be studied by breaking it down into its smaller parts.

William james functionalism
William James- Functionalism

  • American doctor William James became interested in psychology after reading one of Wundt’s articles in the late 1860’s.

  • In 1890 James published a book called “Principles of Psychology” which presented many ideas on consciousness, individual differences, sensation, perception, memory andemotion.

William james
William James

  • James believed that the mind and consciousness was like a “stream” that adapted to the environment as needed.

  • This guiding idea became known as structuralism.

Sigmund freud psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud- Psychoanalysis

  • Wundt and James focuses on consciousness. At the turn of the century the unconscious mind started to challenge the theories of structuralism and functionalism.

  • Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) developed psychoanalysis which focuses on the roles of unconscious conflicts and motivations in explaining behaviour and mental processes.

  • Freud believed dreams, memory blocks, slips of the tongue (Freudian slip) and even jokes were glimpses of the unconscious.

  • He further believed that past experiences in particular our childhood influenced the development of our personality and behaviour.

  • Unlike Wundt and James, Freud did not conduct scientific research to test his theories.

John b watson behaviourism
John B. Watson- Behaviourism

  • The work of American psychologist John B. Watson (1878 – 1958) is still very evident today

  • Watson believed that psychology should focus on observable behaviours that could be objectively measured.

  • He promoted the idea that psychology should aim to describe, predict, understand and control behaviour. Hence his approach to psychology became known as behaviourism.

  • The focus of behaviourism is to understand and explain how behaviour is influenced by learning and experience, in particular, rewards and punishments.

  • Behaviourism is still a present in psychology today.

Carl rogers humanism
Carl Rogers- Humanism

  • Carl Rogers (1902 – 1987) was a psychologist looking for an alternative to psychoanalysis and behaviourism to explain mental processes and behaviours. As a result he founded an area of psychology that became known as Humanism.

  • Humanism focuses on individual differences between people and each person’s uniqueness. A major focus of explaining behaviour and mental processes is the idea that all people are good, that we all strive to reach their full potential in life and that all of our behaviours are the result of free will.

Classic perspectives in psychology
Classic Perspectives in Psychology

(a) ‘Psychology should study how behaviour and mental processes allow organisms to adapt to their environments.’



Classic perspectives in psychology1
Classic Perspectives in Psychology

(b) ‘Psychology should emphasise each person’s uniqueness as they strive to reach their full potential as a human being.’



Classic perspectives in psychology2
Classic Perspectives in Psychology

(c) ‘Psychology should experimentally study the elements of consciousness, how they are organised and how they are interrelated.’



Classic perspectives in psychology3
Classic Perspectives in Psychology

(d) ‘Psychology should scientifically study observable behaviour that can be objectively measured and not focus on consciousness.’



Classic perspectives in psychology4
Classic Perspectives in Psychology

(e) ‘Psychology should study how unconscious conflicts influence behaviour and mental processes that occur at the conscious level.’



Modern psychological perspectives

Modern Psychological Perspectives

While each classic perspective of psychology has significantly influenced psychology today, we will now look at contemporary perspectives.

Contemporary psychological perspectives
Contemporary Psychological Perspectives

  • Each perspective provides a different way of explaining behaviour and mental processes.

  • There are four prominent contemporary perspectives:

    • The Biological Perspective

    • The Behavioural Perspective

    • The Cognitive Perspective

    • The Socio-cultural Perspective

The biological perspective
The Biological Perspective

  • Focuses on the biological (physiological) influences on behaviour

  • This includes the brain, the nervous system, the endocrine system (hormones), the immune system and genetics.

  • Makes the assumption that all of our thoughts and behaviours have underlying biological processes.

Biological psychologists
Biological Psychologists

  • Roger Sperry (1913 – 1994): used split brain surgery to successfully treat patients with severe epilepsy

The behavioural perspective
The Behavioural Perspective

  • Focuses on how behaviour is acquired or modified by environmental consequences such as rewards and punishments.

  • Makes the assumption that all behaviour can be explained in terms of learning.

Behavioural psychologists
Behavioural Psychologists

  • John B. Watson began the behavioural movement and studied small animals as well as the influence of the environment on human behaviour

  • Burrhus Skinner (1904 – 1990) extended Watson’s work developing an experimental tool known as the Skinner Box.

The cognitive perspective
The Cognitive Perspective

  • The term cognition refers to mental processes such as reasoning, recognition and memory.

  • Focuses on how we acquire, process, remember and use information to think, fell and behave as we do.

  • Makes the assumption that internal mental processes are important influences on behaviour.

Cognitive psychologists
Cognitive Psychologists

  • Jean Piaget developed a theory that describes how our thinking changes as we develop from infants to adults. His theory is still very influential today and we will study it in Term 2.

The socio cultural perspective
The Socio-cultural Perspective

  • Focuses on the roles of social and cultural influences on human behaviour and mental processes.

  • Makes the assumption that social factors such as sex, race, age, income and cultural practices such as beliefs, values, attitudes, and customs influence behaviour.

Perspectives on psychology
Perspectives on Psychology

  • Consider a person with depression.

  • A psychologist working from the biological perspective would look at the brainstructures and chemical imbalances in the body that may be causing the depression

  • A psychologist working from the behavioural perspective would consider the environmentalevents that may have lead to the depression especially those that are reinforcing the behaviours associated with depression.

  • A cognitive psychologist would focus on the thoughtpatterns of the person with depression.

  • A psychologist working from the socio-cultural perspective would look at how the person’s lifeexperiences and beliefs might influence the condition.

Perspectives on psychology1
Perspectives on Psychology

  • No single perspective is “right” or “wrong”

  • Often the perspectives overlap

  • A psychologists who works within one perspective is not in competition with a psychologist working in another.

  • The different perspectives allow topics in psychology to be looked at in different ways.

Perspectives on psychology2
Perspectives on Psychology

  • Most psychologist will use multiple perspectives in their practice- the eclectic perspective.

Task 1 perspectives visual organiser
Task 1: Perspectives Visual Organiser

  • To complete the visual organiser summarising the four major perspectives in psychology found on the Jacaranda website.

  • Get into groups of 4. Assign each group member a perspective.

  • Depending on your perspective, read the relevant section of the textbook. Complete your section of the summary table.

  • Form expert groups to discuss what you found.

  • Report back to your group with the final copy of your section of the summary table.

  • Print and paste into your exercise book.

Task 2 how would you explain
Task 2: How would you explain...

  • In your group of four, read the given scenario.

  • Each “expert” explains how the perspective they researched may explain the behaviour displayed in the scenario.

  • Record each person’s response. Discuss as a group. Do you all agree?

  • Present to the class.