What is psychology?

Psychology today can be defined as the scientific study of mind and behavior.  However every school of thoughts in psychology had a different definition for psychology and these definitions were crucial in marking the history of psychology, every definition created a new perspective and new research methods that are based on that definition.

     Definitions (The perspectives of Psychology):

  • ​Structuralism:

Founder of structuralism was a German scientist called Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) and actually he was the first person to be referred to as a psychologist. Wundt viewed psychology as a scientific study of conscious experience; he believed that the goal of psychology was to identify components of consciousness and how those components combined to result in our conscious experience. And the method that was used by Wundt was introspection. learn more.

  • Functionalism:

James thought that psychology’s purpose was to study the function of behavior in the world, and as such, his perspective was known as functionalism. Functionalism focused on how mental activities helped an organism fit into its environment.  James also believed that introspection could serve as one means by which someone might study mental activities, but James also relied on more objective measures, including the use of various recording devices, and examinations of concrete products of mental activities and of anatomy and physiology. learn more.

  • Freud and Psychoanalytic Theory:

Freud (1856–1939) was an Austrian neurologist who was fascinated by patients suffering from “hysteria” and neurosis. Psychoanalytic theory focuses on the role of a person’s unconscious, sexuality as well as early childhood experiences, and this particular perspective dominated clinical psychology for several decades. Gaining access to the unconscious, then, was crucial to the successful resolution of the patient’s problems. According to Freud, the unconscious mind could be accessed through different methods like dream analysis and slips of the tongue the method used in this perspective is “free association”. learn more.

  • Gestalt psychology:

This school of thoughts concentrated of the study of perception.  The word Gestalt which can be translated to “form” present the fact that although a sensory experience can be broken down into individual parts, how those parts relate to each other as a whole is often what the individual responds to in perception.

  • Behaviorism:

As the name refers this perspective concentrated on the study of behavior and called the process between the stimulus and the response the black box and they did not study it. The method used by psychologist in this perspective was the experimental method. learn more.  

  • Maslow, Rogers, and Humanism:

Humanism is a perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans. Two of the most well-known proponents of humanistic psychology are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers

  • The Cognitive Revolution:

This perspective believes that psychology’s focus on behavior was short-sighted and that the field had to re-incorporate mental functioning into its purview. learn more.