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Table of contents

The two have distinctive goals, training, and practices, but some psychologists integrate the two.

Psychology as a Human Science | Duquesne University

In Western culture , contributors to the development of psychology came from many areas, beginning with philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Hippocrates philosophized about basic human temperaments e. Informed by the biology of his time, he speculated that physical qualities, such as yellow bile or too much blood, might underlie differences in temperament see also humour.

Two figures who helped to found psychology as a formal discipline and science in the 19th century were Wilhelm Wundt in Germany and William James in the United States. During the first half of the 20th century, however, behaviourism dominated most of American academic psychology. In John B. Watson , one of the influential founders of behaviourism, urged reliance on only objectively measurable actions and conditions, effectively removing the study of consciousness from psychology.

He argued that psychology as a science must deal exclusively with directly observable behaviour in lower animals as well as humans, emphasized the importance of rewarding only desired behaviours in child rearing, and drew on principles of learning through classical conditioning based on studies with dogs by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and thus known as Pavlovian conditioning.

Psychological Perspectives

In the United States most university psychology departments became devoted to turning psychology away from philosophy and into a rigorous empirical science. Beginning in the s, behaviourism flourished in the United States, with B. Skinner leading the way in demonstrating the power of operant conditioning through reinforcement. Their work showed that social behaviour is readily influenced by manipulating specific contingencies and by changing the consequences or reinforcement rewards to which behaviour leads in different situations.

Changes in those consequences can modify behaviour in predictable stimulus-response S-R patterns. Likewise, a wide range of emotions , both positive and negative, may be acquired through processes of conditioning and can be modified by applying the same principles. Concurrently, in a curious juxtaposition , the psychoanalytic theories and therapeutic practices developed by the Vienna-trained physician Sigmund Freud and his many disciples—beginning early in the 20th century and enduring for many decades—were undermining the traditional view of human nature as essentially rational.

Freudian theory made reason secondary: for Freud, the unconscious and its often socially unacceptable irrational motives and desires, particularly the sexual and aggressive, were the driving force underlying much of human behaviour and mental illness. Making the unconscious conscious became the therapeutic goal of clinicians working within this framework.

Freud proposed that much of what humans feel, think, and do is outside awareness, self-defensive in its motivations, and unconsciously determined. Much of it also reflects conflicts grounded in early childhood that play out in complex patterns of seemingly paradoxical behaviours and symptoms. His followers, the ego psychologists, emphasized the importance of the higher-order functions and cognitive processes e. They also shifted their focus to the roles of interpersonal relations and of secure attachment in mental health and adaptive functioning, and they pioneered the analysis of these processes in the clinical setting.

After World War II , American psychology, particularly clinical psychology, grew into a substantial field in its own right, partly in response to the needs of returning veterans. The growth of psychology as a science was stimulated further by the launching of Sputnik in and the opening of the Russian-American space race to the Moon.

As part of this race, the U. For the first time, massive federal funding became available, both to support behavioral research and to enable graduate training. Psychology became both a thriving profession of practitioners and a scientific discipline that investigated all aspects of human social behaviour, child development , and individual differences, as well as the areas of animal psychology, sensation , perception , memory , and learning.

It has a particular interest in perceptual problems and how they can be interpreted. A Gestaltist believes that the whole is greater than or different than the sum of all of the parts. Trying to break up behavior into separate parts is simplistic because everything affects everything else. Psychodynamic psychology was first practiced by Sigmund Freud, although he didn't intend it to be a system. While the use of one system to solve all problems has been abandoned by most psychologists, these early systems were important in the development of new systems and ideas.

There are eight major perspectives that psychologists usually take, although many use an eclectic approach instead of confining themselves to just one. The psychodynamic perspective emphasizes unconscious drives and the resolution of conflicts, the behaviorial emphasizes the acquisition and alteration of observable responses, and the humanistic approaches attempt to achieve maximum human potential as set in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The biological perspective is the scientific study of the biological bases of behavior and mental states, very closely related to neuroscience. Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain certain mental and psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language as evolved adaptations, i.

Cognitive psychology accepts the use of the scientific method, but rejects introspection as a valid method of investigation.

Top 10 Facts - Psychology

It should be noted that Herbert Simon and Allen Newell identified the 'thinking-aloud' protocol, in which investigators view a subject engaged in introspection, and who speaks his thoughts aloud, thus allowing study of his introspection. Social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others Allport, Wundt argued that " we learn little about our minds from casual, haphazard self-observation It is essential that observations be made by trained observers under carefully specified conditions for the purpose of answering a well-defined question.

Many scientists threw away the idea of introspection as part of psychology because the observation of stimulation was speculative without an empirical approach. However the case, an opposite to introspection called extrospection has been created with a relation to Psychophysics.


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Psychophysics is the branch of psychology dealing with the relationship between physical stimuli and their perception. The important distinction is that Wundt took this method into the experimental arena and thus into the newly formed psychological field. Other important early contributors to the field of psychology include Hermann Ebbinghaus a pioneer in studies on memory , the Russian Ivan Pavlov who discovered the learning process of classical conditioning , and the Austrian Sigmund Freud. The midth century saw a rejection of Freud's theories among many psychologists as being too unscientific, as well as a reaction against Edward Titchener's abstract approach to the mind.

Edward B. Titchener was an Englishman and a student of Wilhelm Wundt before becoming a professor of psychology at Cornell University.

He would put his own spin on Wundt's psychology of consciousness after he emigrated to the United States. At the turn of 19th century the founding father of experimental psychology Wilhelm Wundt tried to experimentally confirm his hypothesis that conscious mental life can be broken down into fundamental elements which then form more complex mental structures.

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Wundt's structuralism was quickly abandoned because it could not be tested in the same way as behavior, until now, when the brain-scanning technology can identify, for example, specialized brain cells that respond exclusively to basic lines and shapes and are then combined in subsequent brain areas where more complex visual structures are formed.

This line of research in modern psychology is called cognitive psychology rather than structuralism because Wundt's term never ceased to be associated with the problem of observability. The majority of mainstream psychology is based on a framework derived from cognitive psychology , although the popularity of this paradigm does not exclude others, which are often applied as necessary.

Psychologists specialising in certain areas, however, may use the dominant cognitive psychology only rarely if at all. Cognitive psychology is the psychological science which studies cognition, the mental processes that are hypothesised to underlie behavior. This covers a broad range of research domains, examining questions about the workings of memory, attention, perception, knowledge representation, reasoning, creativity and problem solving.

Cognitive psychology is radically different from previous psychological approaches in two key ways. Regardless of the perspective adopted there are hundreds of specialties that psychologists practice. These specialties can usually be grouped into general fields. The first use of the term "psychology" is often attributed to the German scholastic philosopher Rudolf Goeckel Latinized Rudolph Goclenius , published in The term did not fall into popular usage until the German idealist philosopher, Christian Wolff used it in his Psychologia empirica and Psychologia rationalis This distinction between empirical and rational psychology was picked up in Diderot's Encyclopedie and was popularized in France by Maine de Biran.

The root of the word psychology psyche is very roughly equivalent to "soul" in Greek, and ology equivalent to "study". Psychology came to be considered a study of the soul in a religious sense of this term much later, in Christian times. Psychology as a medical discipline can be seen in Thomas Willis' reference to psychology the "Doctrine of the Soul" in terms of brain function, as part of his anatomical treatise "De Anima Brutorum" "Two Discourses on the Souls of Brutes".

Until about the end of the 19th century, psychology was regarded as a branch of philosophy. In , Wilhelm Wundt , known as "the father of psychology", founded a laboratory for the study of psychology at Leipzig University in Germany. The American philosopher William James published his seminal book, Principles of Psychology, in , laying the foundations for many of the questions that psychologists would focus on for years to come. Other important early contributors to the field include Hermann Ebbinghaus — , a pioneer in the experimental study of memory at the University of Berlin; and the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov , who investigated the learning process now referred to as classical conditioning.

Meanwhile, during the s, the Austrian physician Sigmund Freud, who was trained as a neurologist and had no formal training in experimental psychology, had developed a method of psychotherapy known as psychoanalysis. Freud's understanding of the mind was largely based on interpretive methods and introspection, and was focused in particular on resolving mental distress and psychopathology. Freud's theories became very well-known, largely because they tackled subjects such as sexuality and repression as general aspects of psychological development.

Early Psychologists

These were largely considered taboo subjects at the time, and Freud provided a catalyst for them to be openly discussed in polite society. Although Freud's theories are only of limited interest in modern academic psychology departments, his application of psychology to clinical work has been very influential. Partly in reaction to the subjective and introspective nature of Freudian psychology, and its focus on the recollection of childhood experiences, during the early decades of the 20th century behaviorism gained popularity as a guiding psychological theory.

Championed by psychologists such as John B. Watson and Edward Thorndike and later, B. Skinner , behaviorism was grounded in studies of animal behavior.