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Human Psychology - Essay Example

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Human Psychology

As a result, modern psychology is an amalgam of stances, theories and perspective that supplement or contradict each other.
Functional psychology or functionalism is a broad psychological school that became popular in the early decades of 20th century. Advocates of functional approach focused on the active (functional) adaptation of human consciousness to the environment (Vandenbos, 2006). Functional psychology relied on the work of William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, and the evolutionary theory developed of Charles Darwin. The primary concern of functionalists was to understand how the human mind and consciousness functions. Functionalists believed that this could be done via introspection: "Functionalists studied the mind not from the standpoint of its composition-its mental elements of structure-but rather as a conglomerate or accumulation of functions and processes that lead to practical consequences in the real world" (Schultz, & Schultz, 2008, p.145). As a result, functionalists rejected the traditional positivist philosophy of experimental research and advocated the potential of rational thought being concerned with the capability of the mind and practical value of psychological research.
The essence of functional psychology was articulated by John Dewey, the brightest representative of functionalism, in his "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology" (1896). Dewey criticized the notion of elementarism and atomism that dominated early psychology. His criticism also covered the emerging school of behaviorism with its stimulus-response theory (Dewey, 1964). Although functional psychology failed to become a formal school, the concepts and principles formulated by representatives of this approach contributed greatly to the development of behavioral psychology (Schultz, & Schultz, 2008). An essential contribution of functionalism was recognition of the validity of research involving animals, children and people with psychiatric disabilities. Yet the most important contribution of functionalism to contemporary psychological practice was introduction of novel research methods and techniques such as mental tests, questionnaires and physiological measures (Biro, & Shahan, 1982). This legacy continues to play critically important role in modern psychological practice.

Behaviorism
The origins of behaviorist perspective, a theory successfully applied in modern psychological practice can be traced back to John Watson (1878 - 1958) whom was the first theorist to formulate the principles of modern behaviorism. The school of behaviorism embraces hundreds of theories, practices, and trends that have emerged over several decades. However, the underlying feature of any behaviorist theory or concept is the emphasis on external influences on behavior and motivation that are viewed as the most critical aspect of understanding the inner world of human beings. Thus, Wilfred Sellars (1963), an outstanding philosopher of the last century whom witnessed emergence development and decline of behaviorism noted "a person may qualify as a behaviorist, loosely or attitudinally speaking, if they insist on confirming hypotheses about psychological events in terms of behavioral ...Show more

Summary

Explaining human psychology and behavior is one the most intriguing and complex tasks associated with the science of psychology. Numerous outstanding thinkers repeatedly attempted to understand the behavior of other people and create effective tools and strategies to change it…
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