As described, there are 10 different perspectives of early psychology. These
perspectives are: Structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt psychology, Behavioral,
psychodynamic, humanistic, physiological, evolutionary, cognitive, and cultural and
diversity. I will only be looking at three of these perspectives still in common use today
here is a summary of each.
The behavioral perspective “focuses on the observable behaviors; thus it does not
speculate about mental processes such as thinking.” (Davis and Palladino, 2005).Unlike
the other approaches, the behavioral perspective accentuates how it is important to learn
and understand and doesn’t focus on coconscious. B. F. Skinner, a well known
psychologist, was a strong advocate of this thinking. He has since been called the
“greatest contemporary psychologist” (Fowler, 1990). Skinner basically took an easy
angle on his methods. “Behavior changes as a result of consequences (Bjork, D. W.,
1997). When it comes down to it, Skinner teaches basic skills.
When applying this type of psychology to young children you will see immediate
results and these can be long standing results. However, in young children, this method
will not give the parent ay idea of the motivations or thoughts behind that bad behavior.
Only reinforcing the correct behaviors will do nothing to help parents or teachers better
understand the feelings of the child or the internal factors that have contributed to this
behavior. Behaviorism works well in conjunction with the other theories below to help
parents and teachers gain a more complete understanding of not only their children’s
behaviors but “why” they choose to behave in a certain way.
The humanistic perspective “emphasizes free will and an individual’s control of
their own behavior.” (Davis and Palladino, 2005).This was more of a human approach to
psychology which was to look at and study humans by the choices they make. Laboratory
specimens can not possibly equate to what a human can achieve deeming any laboratory
experiment illogical. Instead of developing principals about their theories, they concluded
that each individual is their own being. Humanistic psychologists believe in the inherent
“good” nature of all people.
The humanistic approach to psychology offers parents and teachers many ways to
be non-judgmental when approaching children about incorrect or “bad” behaviors.
Educator’s and parents need to be very careful, in my opinion, when using only this
approach with their children. Humanists will not label any behavior as “bad” or “wrong”
but instead they will focus on the individuals right to choose what they will do or what
decision they make on their own. In schools today I believe we place to much emphasis
on making the child feel they have done well no matter the level of work they have
produced or the actions they have chosen to take. The humanistic approach can work well
when trying to improve a child’s self-esteem or cure shyness but, when a child is not told
they are doing something wrong how will they then learn what is considered right and
wrong in society? “We’ve got youngsters here now who . . . are under the authority of the
school and are being persuaded that there is a better way, and that way is to make their
own decisions. They’re being induced to make decisions about activities that the citizenry
of the state have decided are wrong” (http://www.probe.org/docs/psy-educ.html) When
used in conjunction with behaviorism and cognitive psychology a child will gain a much
better understanding of their place in the world as well as what is expected of them in
regards to behavior.
“Many psychologists have accepted the cognitive perspective – where the focus
is on how thought occurs, memory processes, and information storage and utilization –
and currently conduct research in the area of cognitive processes.” (Davis and Palladino,
2005) This focused more on the thinking remembering, and storing of information in the
mind, unlike the behaviorists, who only focused on observational behaviors. For about a
40 year period, there was no attention being paid to this area. George Miller and Jerome
Bruner established the “Center for cognitive Studies at Harvard University in 1960, and
Ulrich Neisser published the book Cognitive Psychology in 1967″ (Davis and Palladino,
“Many educational psychologists found the behavioral approach unsatisfying and
the humanistic approach to soft. Many cognitive psychologists propose that children
actively construct knowledge and this construction of knowledge happens in a social
This approach to psychology offers teachers and parents several different views of
how to get children to remember and apply the knowledge they have gained in any given
situation. Instead of focusing on observable behaviors or feelings they can focus more on
the actual thought process and use of memory in children. If we can understand how to
make a child remember what he or she is doing is wrong or right then we have effectively
teach them the “lesson” and they will apply it in the future to other situations.
In conclusion, and in my own opinion, I believe all of these, as well as the other
theories used in psychology are not correct or incorrect. All of the current schools of
thought have some basis in fact and some basis in belief. If parents and educators can
learn how to apply the best aspects of each theory they will be able to raise a good
functional adult. In younger children I have found the use of behaviorist’s techniques will
get real results when trying to curb bad behavior and teach the child to “choose” to do the
right thing. When a child grows up a bit more their own internal dialogue plays more of a
role in what they choose to do. Using the humanistic approach to reinforce their own
decision making can teach a child to make the correct decisions and also give a more
positive view of those choices no matter what they are. At any age the cognitive approach
can be used to help children learn to recall information they have been taught or apply
that “lesson” we are trying to get across.
Bjork D.W. (1997) Allport: A Life in Washington D.C. American psychological association
Fowler, R. D. (1990). Psychology: The core discipline. American Psychologist, 45, 1-6.
Humanistic Psychology and Education. Don Closson 1991 Probe Ministries International
Retrieved 4 April 2005 from http://www.probe.org/docs/psy-educ.html
Educational Technology’s Effect on Models of Instruction. Judith Conway. May, 1997
Retrieved 4 April 2005 from http://copland.udel.edu/jconway/EDST666.htm
Saul Kassin, B.S., M.A., PhD, “Psychology,” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2005 Retrieved 4 April 2005 from http://encarta.msn.com
Davis, Stephen F., Palladino, Joseph J. (2005) Psychology, Research and You, Psychology Chapter 1. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Custom Publishing