Modern day psychology studies a wide range from topics. It studies human behavior and mental processes right from the neural level to cultural level. Psychologists study human issues and problems that begin at birth and continue until death befalls.
However, understanding history of psychology will help you gain better insight into how different topics in psychology are studied and what have psychologists learned so far.Brief History of Psychology:
Right from the very beginning, psychology has posed a lot of different questions. Initially the question was What Is Psychology ? and how should it be defined. The answer to this question helped establish psychology as science, which was completely separate from philosophy and physiology. However, this did not lay to rest other questions like what issues should psychology cover, what research methods should be employed to study psychology, is psychology a science and should psychology concentrate only on observable behaviors or mental processes.
The earliest evidence of psychology goes back to the time of the early Greeks. In the 17th century, Rene Descartes, French philosopher, was instrumental in introducing the idea of dualism. This idea stressed that the mind and body were separate but interacted with each other to form human experience. Although psychology had its humble beginnings in philosophy, it became a separate discipline altogether only in the late 1800s.
However, psychology is different from philosophy. While philosophers in the early days of psychology relied on observation and logic to draw conclusions about human mind and behavior, today psychologists use a wide variety of scientific methods.
At the same time it must be stressed that physiology played a big role in ensuring that psychology becomes a separate scientific discipline. The early physiological researches conducted on human brain and behavior helped psychology and this was responsible for scientific methods be applied to study human behavior and thought process.
In the mid-1800s, Wilhelm Wundt, a German physiologist, used scientific methods to get more insight into reaction times and this prompted him to publish a book in 1874. In his book, Wundt gave examples of the connection between physiology and study of human thought and behavior. In fact, Wundt was responsible for opening the first psychology lab in the world in 1879. Experts believe that this was the very beginning of psychology as separate scientific discipline.
However, the first school of thought in psychology was structuralism. It was founded by Edward B. Titchener, a student of Wundt. According to this school of thought the human consciousness could be broken into smaller modules. Patients were trained in introspection and this enabled them to break down their responses and reactions to smaller pieces and components and thus, helping them cope with their emotions. However, when Titchener died in 1927, this school of thought, which laid a lot of stress on scientific research, died too.
In America, psychology started becoming extremely popular during mid-1800s. William James, an American psychologist, published a book entitled The Principles of Psychology, which established him as the father of American psychology. This book was the standard textbook for psychology and helped to lay foundation for a new school of thought known as functionalism.
Functionalism was about understanding how behavior helped people to live in their surroundings and environment. Functionalism went on to influence future psychologists and it also had a profound impact on the theories of human behavior and thought.
More Articles :