According to science philosopher Thomas Kuhn, the ongoing development of scientific paradigms is responsible for scientific progress. A scientific paradigm has three basic characteristics: a series of assertions that provide a model of the object of study, a group of common metaphors that assist with comprehension of the object of study, and a methodology that is accepted by the scientific community to provide legitimate and valuable data when carried out correctly. Within the social sciences, Kuhn stated, there is an absence of accepted paradigms. Instead, perhaps because these fields of study are younger than the hard sciences such as biology or physics, there are several fragmented perspectives that nonetheless share these characteristics of a paradigm. There are four of these perspectives that inform contemporary psychological thought: the psychodynamic, behaviorist, cognitive, and evolutionary perspectives (Kowalski & Westen, 2009).
The psychodynamic perspective of psychology stems from the work of the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, during the late nineteenth century. This perspective contends that behavior demonstrates that behavior is caused by the mental connections between thoughts, emotions, and desires; that these mental processes happen mainly beyond conscious knowledge; and that when mental processes are in conflict with each other the mind must find a way to settle the conflict. Despite the historical use among psychodynamic theorists of case studies drawn from patients' dreams and fantasies, bearing and demeanor as a primary means of observation, contemporary psychodynamic psychologists are using scientifically valid experimental methodology more frequently than in the past. Th...
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...uction cycle. Therefore, evolutionary psychology posits that many common behaviors are present because human antecedents developed them to make survival and reproduction more likely. Sociobiology is a very young discipline that studies genetic transmission of behavioral disposition. This has brought behaviors under the auspices of evolutionary psychology that were previously not seen as being within its scope. Evolutionary psychology uses deduction as its primary method of observation (Kowalski & Westen, 2009).
Understanding the four perspectives that guide contemporary psychology - the psychodynamic perspective, the behaviorist perspective, the cognitive perspective, and the evolutionary perspective - provides a basis for understanding the study of psychology itself.
Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2009). Psychology. (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.
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