Schools of Thought in Psychology

Schools of Thought in Psychology

Modern psychology spans the 19th and 20th centuries, when countless psychologists presented their views in the light of research and experience. When we organize ideas in one place and explain the same methods for study, we call them schools of thought in psychology.

What are schools of thought in psychology - When the beliefs of different psychologists are grouped together on the basis of similarity, the following psychology schools of thought emerge.

Structuralism in Psychology - Schools of Thought in Psychology

Wilhelm Wundt is the founder of this school of thought. According to him, psychology is the science of consciousness. He focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components.

This psychology school of thought is about discovering the structure of the mind and consciousness. According to him, we can know the thoughts, impressions and excitements that man suffers from during conscious experience with the help of inner observation or introspection.

According to this psychology school of thought, the character is usually known through the senses. And this sense is studied from the inner observation or introspection.

German physician Wilhelm Wundt is credited with introducing psychological discovery into a laboratory setting. Known as the "father of experimental psychology." He founded the first psychological laboratory, at Leipzig University, in 1879.

Edward B. Titchener was another major structuralism thinker.

Criticism of Structuralism - Schools of Thought in Psychology

This psychology school of thought only emphasized the structure and actions of the mind, but ignored the character.

Access to this psychology school of thought is not objective. Material that is based on oral report alone cannot be scientifically tested.

Despite all its shortcomings, the psychology school of thought of structuralism dominated the United States and Europe for many years.

Functionalism in Psychology - Schools of Thought in Psychology

Functionalism School of Thought formed as a reaction to the theories of the structuralism school of thought and was heavily influenced by the work of the American philosopher, scientist and psychologist William James.
William James felt that psychology should have practical value, and that psychologists should find out how the mind can function to a person's benefit.

In his book, Principles of Psychology, published in 1890, he laid the foundations for many of the questions that psychologists would explore for years to come.
Other major functionalist thinkers included John Dewey and Harvey Carr.

Other 19th-century contributors to the field include the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneer in the experimental study of memory. Who developed quantitative models of learning and forgetting at the University of Berlin.

So Russian-Soviet Physiologist Ivan Pavlov, who discovered in dogs a learning process that was later termed "classical conditioning" and applied to human beings.

Starting in the 1950s, the experimental techniques set forth by Wundt, James, Ebbinghaus, and others would be reiterated as experimental psychology became increasingly cognitive, concerned with information and its processing. And eventually, constituted a part of the wider cognitive science.

In its early years, this development had been seen as a "revolution," as it both responded to and reacted against strains of thought, including psycho-dynamics and behaviorism that had developed in the meantime.

Associationism in Psychology - Schools of Thought in Psychology

Like Functionalism, Associationism has taken the form of a school of thought that we see in structuralism, behaviorism, gestalt, and psychoanalysis.

Experts from this psychology school of thought studied education in a scientific way. According to this psychology school of thought, when there is a connection between our actions and our attitudes based on experience, it is called association.

This theory places a lot of emphasis on past experiences. Aristotle, Lock Hobbes, George Berkeley, and Hume all supported this psychology school of thought.

In modern times, Muller, Morgan, Pavlov and B. F. Skinner have been called supporter of Associationism school of thought.
Hermann Ebbinghaus made meaningless words and proved through experiments that meaningless words are remembered late, while meaningful words are remembered quickly, because there is harmony between them.

Behaviorism in Psychology - Schools of Thought in Psychology

In the United States, behaviorism became the dominant psychology school of thought during the 1950s. Behaviorism was founded in the early 20th century by John B. Watson, and embraced and extended by Edward Thorndike, Clark L Hull, Edward C. Tolman, and later B.F. Skinner.

Behaviorist School of Thought in Psychology - Theories of learning emphasized the way in which people might be predisposed, or conditioned, by their environments to behave in certain ways.
What is behaviorism in psychology - Behavioral patterns, then, were understood to consist of organisms' conditioned response to the stimuli in their environment.

Much research consisted of laboratory-based animal experimentation, which was increasing in popularity, as physiology grew more sophisticated.

Skinner's teaching machine, a mechanical invention to automate the task of programmed instruction.  Skinner's behaviorism shared with its predecessors a philosophical inclination towards positivism and determinism.
Behaviorists usually rejected or de-emphasized dual explanations such as "mind" or "consciousness"; and, in lieu of probing an "unconscious mind" that underlies unawareness, they spoke of the "contingency shaped behaviors" in which unawareness becomes outwardly manifest.

Among the behaviorists' most famous creations are John B. Watson's Little Albert experiment, which applied classical conditioning to the developing human child, and Skinner's notion of operant conditioning, which acknowledged that human agency could affect patterns and cycles of environmental stimuli and behavioral responses.

Criticism of Behaviorism - Schools of Thought in Psychology

Linguist Noam Chomsky's critique of the behaviorist model of language acquisition is widely regarded as a key factor in the decline of behaviorism's prominence.

Martin Seligman and colleagues discovered that the conditioning of dogs led to outcomes ("learned helplessness") that opposed the predictions of behaviorism.

But Skinner's behaviorism did not die, perhaps in part because it generated successful practical applications.

Gestalt in Psychology - Schools of Thought in Psychology

Wolfgang Kohler, Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka co-founded the Gestalt psychology school of thought. This approach is based upon the idea that individuals experience things as unified wholes.

This approach to psychology began in Germany and Austria during the late 19th century in response to the molecular approach of structuralism.

What is Gestalt Psychology - Rather than breaking down thoughts and behavior to their smallest element, the Gestalt position maintains that the whole of experience is important, and the whole is different than the sum of its parts.

Gestalt psychology should not be confused with the Gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, which is only peripherally linked to Gestalt psychology.

Psychoanalysis - Schools of Thought in Psychology

From the 1890s until his death in 1939, the Austrian physician Sigmund Freud developed Psychoanalysis.

A method of investigation of the mind and the way one thinks; a systematized set of theories about human behavior; and a form of psychotherapy to treat psychological or emotional distress, especially unconscious conflict.

Freud's psychoanalytic theory was largely based on interpretive methods, introspection and clinical observations.

It became very well-known, largely because it tackled subjects such as sexuality, repression, and the unconscious mind as general aspects of psychological development.

These were largely considered taboo subjects at the time, and Freud provided a catalyst for them to be openly discussed in polite society. Clinically, Freud helped to pioneer the method of free association and a therapeutic interest in dream interpretation.
Freud had a significant influence on Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, whose analytical psychology became an alternative form of depth psychology.

Other well known psychoanalytic scholars of the mid-20th century included psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, and philosophers, among these thinkers were Erik Erikson, Melanie Klein, D.W. Winnicott, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm, John Bowlby and Sigmund Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud.

Throughout the 20th century, psychoanalysts evolved into diverse psychology schools of thought, most of which may be classed as Neo-Freudian.

Criticism of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalytic theory and therapy were criticized by psychologists and philosophers such as B.F. Skinner, Hans Eysenck, and Karl Popper.
By the 20th century, psychology departments in American universities had become experimentally oriented, marginalizing Freudian theory and regarding it as a "desiccated and dead" historical artifact.


In short these are major school of thought in psychology. Every  school of thought has its influence in its developing era. Every school of thought has its importance and space in its clients.

Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development

Post a Comment