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Introduction, History, Perspectives, and Careers. Standard SSPFR1. EQ: How has the field of Psychology developed from philosophy to a science?. Psychology. The scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Uses scientific research methods. Behavior includes all observable behavior.

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  • The scientific study of behavior and mental processes.
    • Uses scientific research methods.
    • Behavior includes all observable behavior.
    • Mental processes include thoughts, feelings and dreams.
life before psychology
Life Before Psychology
  • Philosophy asks questions about the mind:
  • Does perception accurately reflect reality?
  • How is sensation turned into perception?

Problem - No “scientific” way

of studying problems

René Descartes


Physiology asks similar questions about the mind

Predict what will happen

Systematically observe events

Do events support predictions



modern psychology s roots

Modern Psychology’s Roots

Module 1: Introduction, History, Perspectives, and Careers

wilhelm wundt 1832 1920
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)
  • The “father of psychology”
  • Founder of modern psychology
  • Opened the first psychology lab in 1879
psychology is born
Psychology Is Born

First Experimental Psych Lab (1879)

Focuses on the scientific study of the mind.

WW insists that Psych methods be as rigorous

as the methods of chemistry & physics.

Wundt’s students start labs

across USA (1880-1900)

Wilhelm Wundt


University of Leipzig

Harvard University

Yale University

Columbia University

Catholic University

Univ of Pennsylvania

Cornell University

Stanford University

  • Studied the basic elements (structure) of thoughts and sensations.
  • Emphasized studying the function of consciousness and how consciousness helped people adapt to their environment
structuralism vs functionalism
Structuralism vs Functionalism


Analyze consciousness into basic elements

and study how they are related

Introspection - self-observation

of one’s own conscious experiences

Wilhelm Wundt


Investigate the function, or purpose

of consciousness rather than its structure

Leaned toward applied work

(natural surroundings)

William James


gestalt psychology
Gestalt Psychology
  • The whole is different from the sum of its parts.
  • Integrate pieces of information into meaningful wholes.
william james 1842 1910
William James (1842-1910)
  • First American psychologist
  • Author of the first psychology textbook
  • Founder of Functionalism
sigmund freud 1856 1939
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
  • Founder of the psychoanalytic perspective
  • Believed that abnormal behavior originated from unconscious drives and conflicts

Psychoanalytic theory

Levels of awareness


Personality structure


- realistic goals


Primary motivations, unacceptable thoughts, memories & feelings

libido (life instincts & thanatos (death instincts)

freud s influence
Freud’s Influence
  • Influence on “pop culture”
    • Freudian slips
    • Anal-retentive
  • Influence on psychology
    • Psychodynamic theory
    • Unconscious thoughts
    • Significance of childhood experiences
ivan pavlov 1849 1936
Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
  • Russian Physiologist
  • Studied learning in animals
  • Emphasized the study of observable behaviors
john b watson 1878 1958
John B. Watson (1878-1958)
  • Founder of behaviorism
  • Studied only observable and objectively described acts
  • Emphasized objective and scientific methodology
b f skinner 1904 1990
B.F. Skinner (1904-1990)
  • Behaviorist
  • Focused on learning through rewards and observation
humanistic psychology
Humanistic Psychology
  • Stressed the study of conscious experience and an individual’s free will
  • Healthy individuals strive to reach their potential.
six contemporary psychological perspectives

Six Contemporary Psychological Perspectives

Module 1: Introduction, History, Perspectives, and Careers

psychological perspectives
Psychological Perspectives
  • Method of classifying a collection of ideas
  • Also called “schools of thought”
  • Also called “psychological approaches”
  • To view behavior from a particular perspective
cognitive perspective
Cognitive Perspective
  • Focus: On how people think and process information
  • Behavior is explained by how a person interprets the situation
biological perspective
Biological Perspective
  • Focus: How our biological structures and substances underlie a given behavior, thought, or emotion
  • Behavior is explained by brain chemistry, genetics, glands, etc.
social cultural perspective
Social-Cultural Perspective
  • Focus: How thinking and behavior change depending on the setting or situation
  • Behavior is explained by the influence of other people present
behavioral perspective
Behavioral Perspective
  • Focus: How we learn through rewards, punishments, and observation
  • Behavior is explained by previous learning
humanistic perspective
Humanistic Perspective
  • Focus: How healthy people strive to reach their full potential
  • Behavior is explained as being motivated by satisfying needs (safety, hunger, thirst, etc.), with the goal of reaching one’s full potential once basic needs are met.
psychodynamic perspective
Psychodynamic Perspective
  • Focus: How behavior is affected by unconscious drives and conflicts
  • Behavior is explained through unconscious motivation and unresolved inner conflicts from one’s childhood.
  • Modern version of psychoanalytic perspective.
psychology s horizon

Psychology’s Horizon

Module 1: Introduction, History, Perspectives, and Careers

behavior genetics
Behavior Genetics
  • Focus: How behavior is affected by genes and the environment
  • Combines biology and behaviorism
  • Emphasis on the importance of both genetic and environmental factors on behavior
evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary Psychology
  • Combines aspects of biological, psychological, and social perspectives
  • Behavior is explained by how the behavior may have helped our ancestors survive long enough to reproduce successfully.
positive psychology
Positive Psychology
  • Focus: To study and promote optimal human functioning
  • Martin E.P. Seligman is a major advocate
  • Should promote building positive qualities of people
careers in psychology

Careers in Psychology

Module 1: Introduction, History, Perspectives, and Careers

basic research
Basic Research
  • Pure science or research
  • Research for the sake of finding new information and expanding the knowledge base of psychology
clinical psychologist
Clinical Psychologist
  • Diagnose and treat patients with psychological problems
  • Largest number of professional psychologists
applied research
Applied Research
  • Research designed to solve specific practical problems
sports psychology
Sports Psychology
  • Play “Sports Imports” (5:38) Segment #33 from Scientific American Frontiers: Video Collection for Introductory Psychology (2nd edition)
name of concept
Name of Concept
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name of concept1
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