History and Development of Psychology

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History and Development of Psychology

  1. 1. Margaret TempletonPsychology A: History and Development of PsychologyThe earliest origins of psychology can be found unsurprisingly in the ancientcivilisations of Egypt, Greece, China and India. Although it took a highlyphilosophical form, this early form of psychology involved theories on themind, body and soul and how they all worked together, so this is not whatpsychology of the modern world is.Ahmed ibn sahl al-Balkhi was among one of the first to put forward that if themind gets ill, then it is logical to say the body will start to experience physicalillness.During the later 1800s, Wilheim Wundt, the founder of modern psychologyfound the first laboratory dedicated exclusively to psychological research inGermany.It was Sigmund Freud who was the founder of the Psychodynamic Approach,it was established in 1900 and he was interested in neurosis. It has two keyassumptions: that a person’s unconscious mental processes influencebehaviour and early childhood experiences, personality development.According to Freud a person has three states of consciousness: conscious-one-eighth of mind represents current awareness. Pre-conscious mind(transition) situations can be brought into awareness such as dreams.Unconscious mind- all repressed and hidden experiences and desires.Freud also suggested that a person’s personality is made up of three parts,the Id, Ego and Superego or Tripartite.Anna O suffered from hysteria, memory loss and paralysis of one side of herbody; she had also been unable to drink liquid for 6 weeks. There was noknown neurological cause. During her sessions, Freud used ‘free association’and this caused her to remember a trauma, the symptoms disappeared duringher sessions.Many theorists suggest that this approach is unscientific in it’s of humanbehaviour. Also many of the central concepts of Freud’s theories aresubjective and impossible to test. It has made the case study method ofresearch popular and it highlighted the importance of childhood.
  2. 2. Behaviourism became known around 1913 when John B. Watson said thatpsychologists should only study behaviour, as it was measurable and alsoobservable by more than one person.Behaviourism is interested in how a person or animal can be conditioned byusing ‘association’ or ‘reinforcement’. The school believes that everyone isborn a blank slate or ‘Tabula Rasa’. They also say that all behaviours can betreated successfully by unlearning behaviours.In behaviourism you have classical and operant conditioning. In classicalconditioning a neutral stimulus acquires the ability to produce a response.Pavlov notices the sight of food or the appearance of the lab assistantscaused the dogs to salivate.Pavlov wondered if he could teach the dogs to respond to unconditionedstimulus (US). He then rang a bell every time the assistants appeared withfood. At the sound of the bell the dogs salivated without food being present.The dogs now responded to conditioned response (CS).This school has many experiments to support theories and it has identifiedsimilarities between animals (Pavlov) and humans (Watson and Rayner- LittleAlbert).But the school gives a weak explanation for human behaviour as it doesn’ttake into consideration mental states e.g. thoughts, perceptions and emotions.It also ignores biology, e.g. testosterone and free will.Modern cognitive psychology emerged in the late 1950s. It was Ulric Neisserin 1967 that actually used the words ‘Cognitive Psychology’ as the title of hisbook. He believed that cognition begins with input from the senses and thisinput is then transferred into a pattern of neural events for processing.Cognitive psychology is the rejection of stimulus- response psychology. Agreat amount of research focuses on the meditational processes of perceptionand thought.The school can be applied to child development which began with Piaget andhis Three Mountains Task, also to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Itcan also combines easily with other approaches e.g. behaviourism.The early experiments in cognitive psychology had lacked ecological validity.Other theorists feel it is too simplistic, rejects scientific method and it ismachine reductionism.
  3. 3. The Biological approach is relevant to the study of psychology in two differentways:Physiology: how the nervous system and hormones work, how the brainfunctions, how changes in structure or function can affect behaviour.Investigation of inheritance: what a person inherits from their parents.Charles Darwin gave his theory of natural selection through observing animalswhile travelling the world. The Phineas Gage (1848) brain injury case providedhis doctor who treated him and later neuroscience significant informationregarding the working of the brain.The central nervous system includes all the neurons in the brain and spinalcord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves connecting thebrain and spinal cord to the other parts of the body. The PNS is divided into 2additional systems. The somatic system which sends information aboutexternal stimulation from skin, muscles and joints to the CNS, this makes usaware of pain and pressure.The motor nerves carry impulses from the CNS to the muscles of the body,where they initiate actions, this is all voluntary. The autonomic nervous alsohas 2 additional systems. The sympathetic nervous system helps us mobiliseand expand energy in response to emergencies expressing strong emotionsand performing strenuous activities i.e. adrenaline.The parasympathetic nervous system works along with the sympatheticsystem often with the opposite effect. It regulates ‘quite’ or calming helping ourorgans to conserve and store energy. The nervous system is connected toand it regulates all our body systems.The Endocrine system is a network of glands that make and release chemicalmessengers called hormones into our bloodstream. These hormones control awide range of bodily functions and behaviours such as the ‘fight or flight’reactionsThis school can be applied to Stress Response (SRRS, stress immunesystem) also to Gender Role Development. The school is very scientific, it ishighly applicable to other areas and it is a strong counter argument to thenurture side in the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ debate.The experiments in this approach have very little ecological validity and it istoo deterministic and it leaves little room for free will.
  4. 4. www.simplypsychology.orgGross Richard. Psychology, The Science of Mind and Behaviour 6thedition2010. Hodder Education London

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