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Question about Foundations of psychology

1. Identify the major schools of thought in psychology and examine their assumptions.

2. Describe the biological foundations of psychology.

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Let's take a closer look at these schools of thought from various sources, which you can draw on for your final response.


1). Identify the major schools of thought in psychology and examine their assumptions.

Psychology came out of two schools of thought biology and philosophy, and became its own disciple. The first school of thought, structuralism, was proposed by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. ( Some of the major schools of thought in psychology, that have influenced our knowledge and understanding of psychology, include:

1. Structuralism vs. Functionalism

Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components. Major structuralist thinkers include Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener.

Specifically, the assumptions of Structuralism are that:

? Psychology is the study of the contents or "structures" of consciousness e.g. molecular approach of structuralism.
? Mental functions were not subject to introspective analysis like the functionalists; it was the makeup of the mind that could be analyzed.
? That there were tasks of psychology; one, to analyze the conscious processes into basic elements; two, to discover how these elements become connected; finally to determine the laws of connection. (

Functionalism formed as a protest to structuralism school of thought and the main proponent was William James (see Other functionalist thinkers included John Dewey and Harvey Carr.

Specifically, the assumptions are that:

? The subject matter of psychology is "mental processes" (as opposed to the structures of the mind, as in structuralism) or in other words, "functions".
? All mental processes have a function that are utilitarian and psychology should be concerned with how the organism adapts to the environment e.g. the function of the mental processes such a utilitarian efforts, etc. (James).
? Mental functions could be studied if correct methods were used (e.g., naturalistic methods as opposed to the lab, like Wundt) (

2. Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud (see was the found of psychoanalytic approach. This school of thought emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. For example, according to Freud, the human mind was composed of three elements: the id, the ego, and the superego. Other major psychodynamic thinkers include Anna Freud (see, Carl Jung (see, and Erik Erikson (see

Specifically, the assumptions of Psychoanalysis are that:

? Unconscious mental processes exist.
? All human behavior is motivated and purposeful.
? Experiences influence current changes and reactions.
? Personality functioning is very complex and can be understood through the Id, Ego, and Superego.
? Thinking processes involve energy, strength and force.
? Human behavior is influenced by interaction with the environment. (


On the other hand, the basic tenets of Psychoanalytic theory are:

1. Psychic energy is needed to make the mind go & the energy (motivation) cannot be destroyed, it must be expressed: The psychoanalytic approach assumes that the psychological apparatus of the mind needs some kind of energy to make it go. This energy is used in psychological work such as planning, thinking, feeling, remembering. The psychic energy is thought to come from 2 main drives: Eros (or libido, the life and sexual instincts) and Thanatos (death instinct). The thinking is that at any time there is only a finite amount of energy available and if it's busily being used say to repress memories, and deal with anxieties, then it's not being used fruitfully. If the neuroses can be resolved, then the psychic energy can be freed to use more creatively and productively.

2. Psychic Determinism: Everything that happens in a person's mind and everything a person does has a specific, identifiable cause i.e. psychic determinism. Psychoanalysis has no room for miracles, accidents or free will. All seeming contradictions of mind and behaviour can be resolved: nothing is accidental, e.g., it is not accidental when you forget someone's name, drop something, say one thing and do another. The purpose of psychoanalysis is to dig these hidden causes out, bring them into conscious awareness, and through this insight, the cause can be resolved.

3. Humans have base instincts (unconscious urges): In Freudian psychology, the unconscious is extremely important in determining behaviour. This is a pervasive theme of the approach: that a lot of desires, motivations and conflicts are seething below the surface, below the level of consciousness. Freud believed that people are driven, fundamentally, by unconscious, animalistic, instinctual urges, particularly lust (eros) and aggression (thanatos). These urges are often in conflict with the demands of ...

Solution Summary

Identifies the major schools of thought in psychology and examines their assumption, as well as describes the biological foundations of psychology. References are provided.