School of Thought

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When psychology was first established as a science it separated from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. The first school of thought, structuralism, was advocated by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. Almost immediately, other theories began to emerge and vie for dominance in psychology. The following are some of the major thought that have influenced our knowledge and understanding of psychology: Structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism: Structuralism:
Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and focused on breaking down mental process into the most basic component, Major structuralism thinkers include Wilhelm Wundt and Edward
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It suggests that only observable behaviors should be studied, since internal states such as cognitions, emotions, and moods are too subjective. As Watson quotes suggest, strict behaviorist believe that any person could potentially be trained to perform any task, regardless of things like genetic backgrounds, personality traits and internal thoughts within the limits of their physical capabilities, and all it takes is the right conditioning. Psychology criticized the theory which Watson warns against the inevitable dangers of a mother providing too much love and affection. This theory caused lots of psychological problems up to depression in children at that time including his own family. Critics argue that behaviorism is one dimensional approach to

Page4 understanding human behavior and that behavioral theories do not account for free will and internal influences such as moods, thoughts and feelings.

Gestalt psychology:
Gestalt psychology is based upon the idea that we 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. Rather that breaking down thoughts and behavior to their smallest element, the gestalt psychologist believed that you must look at the whole of experience. The problem that gestalt theory confronts is that of an extended event, whether an action,
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