Foundations of Psychology


Foundationsof Psychology

Thereexist many schools of thought in psychology that strive to explicatethe mind and human behavior. Nonetheless, this has not always beenthe case earlier psychologists identified only with one school ofthought. Today, may scholars in the field of psychology have aneclectic outlook on psychology (McLeod,2007).

Psychologyis a science and discipline that seeks to provide answers to thebasic question, why do human beings think and behave the way they do.The diverse approaches employed by scholars to provide answers tothat question form the schools of thoughts (McLeod,2007).There are many assumptions that underpin the approaches andmethodologies employed by psychologists. Many of the major school ofthoughts define psychology as the study of human mind and behavior,and evidently this encompasses many aspects (McLeod,2007).This paper will seek to exemplify the major schools of thoughts inpsychology and establish the basic biological establishmentspsychology associated with behavior.

Schoolof Thoughts


Thisschool of thought was put forward by Wilhelm Wundt, who is creditedwith establishing the very first psychological laboratory. This isperceived as the very first perspective in psychology (McLeod,2007).This viewpoint is focused on collapsing the metal processes intobasic elements. In this process scholars employed a techniquereferred to as introspection to examine the human mental processes.

Closelyrelated to the structuralism school of thought is functionalism. Thistheory is not linked to a single theorist rather there are manythinkers linked to this perspective (McLeod,2007).The theory lacks a central idea but is primarily focused on the rolethat mental processes play.


Behaviorismis an approach that indicates that all human behavior can beexplicated by environmental elements rather than the intern processes(McLeod,2007).This school of thought is pegged on the work of scholars such asSkinner, B.K., Watson, B. John and most importantly Watson, B. John(McLeod,2007).This theory is pegged on the following assumptions:

  • Individuals have no free will

  • All human behaviors are learned from surrounding environment (through operant and classical conditioning)

  • Human beings are born with a blank mind

  • All behaviors are a consequence of a stimuli-response. This means that all behavior no matter how multifarious can be reduced to uncomplicated stimuli-response relationship

Thistheory disregards all mentalistic conception and focuses only onexternal behavior that can be observed (McLeod,2007).This school of thought is different from other theories because itviews animals as controlled by the external environment andparticularly that idea that individual are the result of what theyacquire and learn from the surrounding environment. Environmentalfactors that shape behavior are referred to as stimuli, and thebehavior that can be observed is called response (McLeod,2007).This theory suggests two key processes through which individual learnfrom their environment operant and classical conditioning.Operational conditioning encompasses learning from the results ofbehavior while classical conditioning entails learning by association(McLeod,2007).


Thisis an approach that was proposed by Sigmund Freud mainly focuses onthe how the unconscious mind influences human behavior (McLeod,2007).Freud explicated that only a small amount of the mind is visiblethrough observable behavior. Sigmund believed that the mind issubdivided into three main components, the idi, ego and the superego.The idi is the component for primal urges the ego is the componentof personality while the superego is the responsible for reality(McLeod,2007).The interaction of the three components is what shapes humanbehavior.


Thisschool of thoughts was developed as a rejoinder to behaviorism andpsychoanalysis. This approach focuses on individual’s personalgrowth, free will and the notion of self-actualization (McLeod,2007).The major theorist of this approach includes Rogers Carl and MaslowAbraham. These scholars were focused on how to help people attaintheir full potential. It is mainly associated with positivepsychology, a branch that is primarily concerned about how to assistpeople live a more fulfilling life (McLeod,2007).This approach stresses the analyzes of the whole person. In thislight behavior is viewed through the eye of the person doing thebehavior and not from the observer as in the case of behaviorism(McLeod,2007).

Thisschool of thoughts is based on the assumptions that every individualis unique and has free will to change at any given time. Every personis also assumed to be responsible for their well-being and happiness(McLeod,2007).It is also assumed that every person has an innate desire to attainthe highest potential. Due to the immense focus on the subjectiveperception of the world, this approach disregards all scientificmethods in the process of studying human behavior (McLeod,2007).


Thisschool of thought focuses on the study of human mental processes. Inthis light, it covers areas such how people think, remember, learnand perceive (McLeod,2007).This approach is closely related to other disciplines such asphilosophy, linguistic, and neuroscience. It emerged in the 1950s asa reaction to behaviorism theory (McLeod,2007).Cognitive school of thought makes the following assumptions

  • Abnormality emanates from flawed cognitions (cognitive distortions, deficient and inaccurate processing) about the world, us, and other people.

  • Cognitions shapes the way we see things

  • Human beings interact with their environment through mental representation.

Proponentsof this theory noted that behaviorism do not give details on internalprocesses shape human behavior. Areas of study include personality,attitudes, thinking, body languages and intelligence (McLeod,2007).


Thereare many schools of thought that echo their dynamic approach to thestudy of human mind and behavior. Every approach is significant andposit something about particular aspects of human behavior. Everyschool of thoughts must be studied based on its underlyingassumptions. All these theories keep a vital check upon each others’research.


McLeod,S. A. (2007). PsychologyPerspectives.Retrieved from