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U02d1 Schools of Thought

Theories are developed in the context of events that occurred at that time. The evolution of schools of thought is attributed to major historical events and movements as well as social, political, and economic factors. Scholars who experienced the events expressed their views and observations and shaped the various schools of thought in psychology. Using the Timeline of Significant Individuals and Events in the History of Psychology (inside the cover of your text), and citing two peer-reviewed articles, describe the various areas of specialization and evaluate the influence of the major schools of psychology on these specializations.

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Respond to at least two other learners. Your responses to other learners are expected to be substantive in nature and reference the assigned readings, as well as other theoretical, empirical, or professional literature to support your views and writings.


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Psychology schools of thought were the precursors of applied psychological disciplines so prevalent today in the psychology profession. The Zeitgeist of physiology and philosophy of nineteenth century Western Europe became the breeding ground for scientific research. German sociocultural milieu provided an inductive, broadly defined perspective on science, and a financially stable academic and scientific environment for experimental psychology to flourish (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). By the end of the nineteenth century the research methods of the natural sciences were implemented to study mental phenomena. Philosophies such as Descartes empiricism, Comtes positivism, Mills creative synthesis of mental experiences formed some of the ideological underpinning for the collaboration of early psychological theories and physiology within the context of experimental psychology championed by Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt defined psychology as a science to be differentiated from philosophy, specifically, German idealism, spiritualism, and metaphysics. He sought a "pure" discipline based on experimental methods and scientific principles. He believed the elements of consciousness progressed into higher level cognitive patterns through apperception. However, Wundts experimental psychology of describing elements of consciousness was not concerned with practical applications (Schultz & Schultz, 2008). E. B. Titchener, a follower of Wundt, rejected apperception and applied an earlier philosophical perspective of mechanism to his theories. He believed psychologys purpose was to discover the structure of the mind and formed what was called structuralism. His clearly defined research on conscious experience or introspection formed the basis for psychological self reporting, and his precise research methodologies influenced various specializations of the psychology profession such as clinical, cognitive, and industrial organizational psychology. The research impetus set in motion by Wundts and Titcheners precise research methodologies also helped fuel a protest movement of researchers called functionalists. Functionalism was highly influenced by Darwinian theory, and sought to examine the minds functions adaptations and information processing in practical contexts. Because functionalists were concerned with practical applications of psychological theory, applied psychology began to spread in the United States through extensive research on individual differences and mental

functions. Refined research methodologies and statistical analysis flourished through the work of Frances Galton, who developed one of sciences most important measures: the correlation. Modern statistical measurements of validity, reliability and factor analytic methods used in psychometric instruments and in clinical and counseling psychology today are the direct result of Galtons research on correlation, standard deviation and mean. Other contemporaries of Wundt, such as Carl Stumpf, who opposed his view on a reductionist approach to conscious experience, proposed the concept of phenomenology which was influential in establishing counselings philosophical foundations of the Gestalt school of psychology, Rogerian/Humanistic person centered psychology. William James, supported this view as well and brought Wundtian psychology to the United States and established it in academic departments of psychology and philosophy. William James's Principles of Psychology and his pragmatic inclusion of issues relating to the cognitive and emotional self made a major impact on theory development (Wilks, 2003). This paved the way for G. Stanley Hall, who was instrumental in creating psychologys academic infrastructure, scientific peer reviewed journals, the American Psychological Association and separate degree granting academic departments of psychology. He was also first to recognize Freuds contributions and invited him to lectures at Clark University, where Hall was president (Wetzler, 2002). Eventually functional psychology in the United States began to move towards objective and applied psychology and away from consciousness and introspection. The Zeitgeist of the United States favored a psychological school of thought focused on the concept of behavior as the object of psychological study. This paved the way for Watson and Skinners development of behavioral psychology. While this became the dominant form of psychology in the United States, psychoanalysis was also under development. Psychoanalysis, through the contributions of Freud, arose not as a school of thought but through the traditions of medicine and psychiatry in an attempt to treat the mentally ill. Most historians now characterize psychology in the United States as pluralistic (Wertz, 1998). Behaviorism has been replaced by cognitive psychology in academia and cognitive behaviorism in the clinic, while strains of humanistic psychology and psychoanalysis continue to develop. Other alternatives such as positive, evolutionary, constructivist, transpersonal and neuropsychology have emerged as contemporary expressions of psychologys pluralistic genetic. However, mainstream psychology today seems fraught with a crisis of philosophical fragmentations and ambiguous boundaries. Consequently it appears to be more successful in practice than in theory and significantly challenged by ethical and societal problems. Anthony Rhodes References Schultz, D. P. & Schultz, S. E. (2008). A history of modern psychology (9th ed.). Belmont: CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. ISBN: 9780495097990.

Wertz, Frederick. (1998). The Role of the Humanistic Movement in the History of Psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from Proquest Psychology Journals. Wetzler, Scott. (Oct. 2002). Evolving Perspectives on the History of Psychology. The American journal of Psychiatry. Washington: Vol. 159. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from Wilks, Duffy. (2003). A Historical review of Counseling Theory Development in Relation to Definitions of Free Will and Determinism. Journal of Counseling and Development. Vol. 81. Retrieved January 20, 2010, from Proquest Psychology Journals.