Psychological theories and perspectives

To better understand psychology today, it is helpful to understand how psychology has
evolved since its origin. To do this, you will explore the various perspectives (theories) of
psychology. Using your text and the Internet, research and choose three early perspectives
(or theories) of psychology. These perspectives include:
Behaviorism
Cognitive
Culture and Diversity
Evolutionary
Functionalism
Gestalt
Humanistic
Physiological
Psychodynamic
Structuralism
In a 2 – 3 page paper, provide the following information about those perspectives.
A short description of each perspective.
An example representing each perspective
A comparison of the three perspectives – outline their similarities and differences
How each perspective influences psychology today
Be sure to document your references using APA format.

UNIT 1

Psychological theories and perspectives

Psychology is concerned about understanding of behaviors and mental functioning of
individuals. It enhances our understanding of individuals as well as groups. Psychology has also
developed over the years through development of different theories as well as perspectives. This
paper delineates on three perspectives of psychology, behavior, humanistic and functionalism.
Functionalism psychological perspective was advance by William James an American
scientist as well as psychologist. Psychology in reference to the perspective requires evaluation
of mental activity in terms of how it serves an organism as it adapts to a given environment.
Therefore, it aims to study how mental processes of individuals operate (Arnadottir, 2010). The
perspective helps to understand how the mind of people functions for his or her own benefit. A
good example to understand this perceptive is to use an illustration of how various components

UNIT 1 2
of a train operate when the train is moving. This therefore helps to enhance understanding how,
the minds helps to guide and direct people actions.
The second theory is behaviorism. The theory proponent was John Watson, an American
psychology. The theory was dominant in the 20 th century during 1950s and was embraced by
other psychologist such as Clark, Hull, Edward Thorndike, and B.F Skinner among others
(Moore, 2013). The gist of the theory was on the conditioning and pre-disposition of people by
environment to act or behave in a particular way as behaviors are acquired and shaped by the
environment (Moore, 2013). A good example to illustrate the concept behind the theory is the
classical condition- experiment involving a dog. The moment the bell was ringed, the dog
salivated in anticipation of food.
The third perspective is humanistic psychology. The theory came into limelight in 1950s
as a reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. One of the psychologists who contributed to
this perspective was Abraham Maslow (Schneider, 2011). The perspective or approach aimed to
define a person holistically and not as fragment to cognitive function and personality. The
perspective therefore, focuses on various aspects/issues that face humans such as personal
growth, free will, death, self-actualization, freedom, loneliness, and meaning among many others
(Schneider, 2011). A good example that represents this perspective is the fact that human beings
have different orders of need to satisfy. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an illustration that
people have different preferences and needs. The moment they achieve certain needs they crave
for the higher order needs. Therefore, it is important for the employers to understand these
dynamics and behaviors of humans to respond to the same appropriately.
The three perspectives and theories have similarities as well as differences. These
theories are concerned or aim to understand the human behaviors and thinking. They help to

UNIT 1 3
understand; why people behave the way they do and provide some insights to the way certain
people exhibit certain behaviors. The three theories and perspectives also do vary to an extent.
Functionalism perspective is centered on the mind and how it can benefit an individual,
behavioral is concerned on the environment and other stimuli as influencers of behaviors while
humanistic combines both mental and environment in shaping the behavior of a person.
The three perspectives continue to influence psychology even today despite emergence
of many other perspectives to enhance our understanding of human behaviors. Functionalism
perspectives provided a basis to look at psychology as a process rather than a structure.
Behaviorism theory has continued to be used in psychology because of the classical conditioning
experiment that can be verified even today. Humanistic is also still applied because; it helped to
create an understanding of the various issues that affect humans as a whole.
Psychological theories and perspectives have for many years helped to create
understanding of the behaviors of humans being. They have provided a platform to address some
of the challenges that face humans in their day-to-day lives. Even as the new theories develop,
the former theories such as functionalism, behaviorism and humanistic played a role in their
development.

UNIT 1 4

References

Arnadottir, S. (2010). Functionalism and thinking animals. Philosophical Studies, 147(3):347-
354
Moore, J. (2013). Three views of behaviorism. Psychological Record, 63(3): 681-691
Schneider, K. (2011). Toward a Humanistic Positive Psychology. Existential Analysis: Journal
of the Society for Existential Analysis, 22(1):32-38.

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