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Major Schools of Thought



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    The major schools of thought are very vivid and there are many different meanings of each school there are 10 different schools of thought in psychology, however there are only 7 basic schools. The basic schools of thought in psychology are Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviorism, Psychoanalysis, Humanistic Psychology, Gestalt Psychology, and Cognitive Psychology. The 7 basics are each different in theory. Structuralism was the first school of psychology and focused on breaking down mental process into the most basic components.

    Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of structuralist school of thought and was heavily influenced . Behaviorism became the dominant school of during the 1950’s. Based upon the work of thinkers, behaviorism holds 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.

    Psychoanalysis, the school of thought emphasize the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior, the founder of the psychodynamic approach believed that the human mind was composed of the elements the id, the ego, and the superego. Humanistic psychology developed as a response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Humanistic instead focuses on individual free will, personal growth, and self actualization. Gestalt psychology is 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, rather than breaking down thoughts and behavior to their smallest elements the gestalt psychologist believed that you must look at the whole experience. Cognitive psychology is the branch 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 and philosophy.

    In each theory or school of psychology there were different psychologist known for each theory the how they influenced the actual meaning of the stages. Structuralism was best identified by Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener. Functionalism was best identified by John Dewey and Harvey Carr. Behaviorism was identified by John B. Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and B. F. Skinner. Psychoanalysis was identified by Sigmund Freud, with other known psychoanalysis Anna Freud, Carl Jung, and Erik Erikson. Humanistic psychology was identified my Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

    Cognitive psychology was identified by Jean Piaget. The biological foundations of psychology are described as another form of psychology that studies the brain and the nervous system. The nervous, endocrine, peripheral, automatic, central systems are the big systems involved in biological psychology. The nervous system is the bodies system that caries messages to the brain. The endocrine system deals with glandular function and hormones. The peripheral system, the somatic nervous system consists of transmissions from the central nervous system (CNS), motor movements, and voluntary processes.

    The automatic nerve system deals with basic life processes including the sympathetic nervous system as well as the parasympathetic nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) is made up of the brain and the spinal cord. The spinal cord consists of the nerve connections to the back muscles and organs. Biological psychology is the study of all of these parts of the body and the study of how these parts affect human behaviors. It is also a well know fact that genetics play a large roll in psychology as well as biological psychology.

    Genetics not only make up our inherited traits and looks but also what is on the inside of our bodies. According to this perspective, behavior is simply an expression of what goes on inside the body. Consequently, behavior can also be altered by modifying a person’s physical make-up through surgery and medication. Behavioral neuroscience, also known as biological psychology, biopsychology, or psychobiology is the application of the principles of biology, in particular neurobiology, to the study of mental processes and behavior.

    In conclusion biological psychology is simplified as being the actual functions of “the brain”. In closing the major schools of thought in psychology have been identified and explained in reference to the meanings and the actual theory and function of each, identified theory. The biological foundation of psychology has also been described however in summary the actual meaning of the biological foundation of psychology can be simplified as the act of the “brain”, the underlying assumptions have been simplified to say it’s the actual act of theories, stages and statistics.

    Major Schools of Thought. (2018, Jan 29). Retrieved from

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