Major Theoretical Perspectives in Psychology Essay

Major Theoretical Perspectives in Psychology Essay

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Major Theoretical Perspectives in Psychology


In this assignment I will be describing the five major schools of
psychological research. These are Behaviorism, Biological, Cognitive,
Humanist and Psychoanalytical. I will then attempt to evaluate the
pros, cons and practical applications of the Behaviorist and
Psychodynamic approaches.


The earliest origins of behaviorism can be stemmed from the
philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). He believed that the human being
is born as a 'tabula rasa'. This

effectively means a neonate is a blank slate with no prior knowledge
or ideas.

According to Locke it is experience through senses, which provides the

The modern founding father of behaviorism is John Watson (1878-1958).
He believed that Ψ should be about the study of observable behavior
and that behavior is molded by experience.

Behaviorists believe that however complex a piece of behavior might
be, it is possible to break it down and analyze it in basic
STIMULUS-RESPONSE units. This theory also relates to Reductionism,
where psychologists attempt to understand behavior by looking at the
most basic parts. This S-R theory can be best demonstrated in the work
of a Russian psychologist called Pavlov (1849-1936). His theory of
Classical Conditioning centred on his study of dogs and his attempt to
artificially condition a natural response. The sight/smell of food
leading to salivation is an unconditioned S-R. He introduced a neutral
stimulus when food was presented so the dogs associated the two. After
this conditioning was complete the dog salivated when presented with
the neutral stimu...

... middle of paper ...

...ed from one subject. So if the basis for the research is in
doubt the results must also be brought into question. In modern
research a large sample is demanded to give room for error and
individual differences. The main theme is that we are controlled by
our past, this is true to an extent but it implies that we have no
control over our lives. All our actions are pre-determined by past
experiences. This has also brought reservations about the merit of
Freud's theories. Flawed though it is, without it the world of
psychology would be a different place.


Printed publications:

Perspectives in psychology Wadeley and Birch 1997 Macmillan

Psychology in perspective Hayes 2002 Palgram

Mind watching H and M Eysenck 1994 MMB

Internet Sites:

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