Early Psychology:

The Bhudda and Confucius both questioned the origins of thoughts, but neither came up with a theory to explain them.

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Socrates and Plato, early greek philosophers believed that the mind is separable from the body, and with this came the idea that our knowledge is innate. These concepts contrasted with those of a later greek philosopher Aristotle, who had concluded that mind and body were inseparable entities and that our knowledge is accumulated by way of experience. These opposing ideas persist in today's psychology by way of the nature v. nurture debate, which deals with the question of our identities and the extent to which we are influenced by our environments and upbringings.
As psychology has continued to develop into a science, Descartes, a man prescribing to Plato and Socrates view of mind and body, developed a primitive view of the interaction between brain and body through his investigation of reflexes, which he attributed to "animal spirits" flowing through the body. John Locke, too, took a stance in the nature v. nurture debate in his assertion that upon birth the mind is a blank slate, or "tabula rasa", and is shaped by our interactions with the world.
Wilhelm Wundt founded the first psychological laboratory in Germany, and experimentation birthed psychological branches and theories such as structuralism and functionalism.
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Edward Titchner created the concept of structuralism, and sought to discover the structure of the mind and its most basic elements. To accomplish this, he relied on introspective techniques. Subjects would be exposed to a stimulus and asked to explain in detail their experience as it occurred. This reliance on introspection ultimately caused his movement to fail, as the experiments required verbal and creative people who would be able to describe their experience well enough for analysis, and the "data" collected was far too subjective to be reliable.
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Another concept was functionalism, which evolved in reaction to the criticisms against structuralism, which questioned why our body and mind do the things they do. Led by the psychologist William James, functionalism operated under assumptions akin to those of Charles Darwin and followers of the evolutionary perspective, in that it was assumed that our behavior has developed in order to better suit us to survival. James also allowed Mary Calkins to study psychology during his time teaching at Harvard. As a result, she would have become the first woman to receive her Ph.D in psychology, were she not denied her degree by the university. She was however, the first female president of the APA.
These preliminary perspectives aided in the formation of today's major psychological perspectives: Humanistic, Psychodynamic, Evolutionary, Biological/Neuroscience, Cognitive, Social Cultural and Behavioral.

Video Summary of Perspectives and Major Psychologists:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfx6k9xiA5Q

Sources: Psychology Text (David G. Meyers), Education Portal

Five Major Psychological Perspectives:


Behaviorist:
John Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and B. F. Skinner had the largest impact in driving early behavioral psychology. Pavlov was the first psychologist to observe that an unconditioned response can be paired to a conditioned stimulus. He stumbled upon this conclusion while studying the link between salivation in dogs and digestion. He eventually paired the sound of a metronome with the presentation of food, and he observed that once the dogs had been shaped to associate the metronome with the food, they would salivate at the sound of the metronome only, even with no food present. This is the premise of classical conditioning, which Watson wrote about in his article "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It." Pavlov first observed this effect, and Watson expanded upon his ideas and formed the early beliefs of Behaviorism. Skinner supported the idea of operant conditioning, which involves looking at the causes of an action and its consequences. In layman's terms, this simply means that Skinner tried to understand how different patterns of reinforcement can effect behavior. One of his first and most famous experiments involved using the "Skinner box," in which a mouse is put into a box with a small lever, and when the lever is pressed a food pellet will be dispensed. This helped Skinner study how changing the "rules" of the lever changed the mouse's behavior. Just as important as the results of early behaviorists' experiments is the fact that psychology became a science which could be understood through experiments, and not just mere speculation.

Cognitive:
Cognitive psychologists focus on cognition (as their name implies), and they deal with the development and processes of the mind. Jean Piaget, and Lawrence Kohlberg both performed important experiments and created simple, easy-to-use "ladders" which showed how people move from one stage to the next. Piaget developed the theory of cognitive child development, which used simple yet effective experiments to determine which stage of cognitive development a child was in. One, used to test the idea of object permanence, involved showing a child a favorite toy, and then hiding it under a blanket--making sure the child sees you put the toy under the blanket. If the child understands that even though the object is out of sight it is still there, then they have passed through the sensorimotor stage. This is the first stage which lasts for approximately two years after birth. The next stage is the preoperational stage, in which children are egocentric, meaning they cannot picture themselves in another's shoes. After that is the concrete operational stage in which children do not have a concept of conservation (of liquid, of number, ect.). Children finish with the formal operational stage, in which they begin to learn abstract reasoning and are able to work out problems in their head. One major criticism which Piaget took was that his theory stated that children's brains are fully developed by age 11, and there is a large amount of evidence that supports the idea that the brain is not done developing until much later in life. Kohlberg's stages of moral development can be broken up into three main categories: preconventional, conventional, and postconventional. The preconventional stage involves a person doing something because they want to avoid punishment or because they will be rewarded for an action. Conventional morality involves doing things because they are what society claims is good. Postconventional morality is the highest level, and a person in this stage will do something because they personally believe it is the right thing to do.
A form of cognitive therapy is Rational Emotive Therapy, in which a therapist seeks to correct the irrational thoughts that they believe are leading to an issue. It can be rather confrontational, and adresses things such as the client's locus of control and world view.

Biological:
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The biological perspective--sometimes called the neuroscience perspective--uses medical explanations to explain psychological disorders. The biological perspective became a legitimate focus of psychology when Phineas Gage's prefrontal cortex was cut off from the rest of his brain when a tamping iron crashed through his skull. The physician working on Gage was named John Harlow, and he managed to save Gage's life while at the same time creating the first understandings of how the brain impacts thoughts and behavior. Harlow noted a change in Gages personailty, particularly the fact that he lost some degree of control over his emotions and thoughts. It would be akin to removing the "filter" that people have to determine what they should and shouldn't say. This perspective gained further substansiation when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection which included evidence for the theory of evolution, which showed how particular patterns of thinking could have helped ancestors survive and reproduce. Biological psychology has grown hand-in-hand with medical technology, and advances in one lead to advances in the other. For this reason, therapies used by psychologists in the biological perspective usually include medications in the hopes of correcting the body's balance of chemicals, and therefore improving the mind. For example, prescribing lithium to a patient with bipolar disorder.

Psychodynamic:
This perspective has been driven by the theories of Sigmund Freud. He proposed that the reasons people do the things they do is because of unconscious motivation. One of his modes of therapy involved probing the patient's mind looking for sources of conflict which could have manifested itself in the patient's life. The idea is that current problems stem from past problems, so by coming to peace with the past problems people can make their current self better. Another facet of Freud's theory is the idea of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego. the Id is all the unconscious drives, things that people really want to do. The Superego is the side of personality which wants to conform to society and wants to follow the rules. The Ego is the center of reason, and this is what keeps the Id and the Superego in check. Freud is the pioneer of psycho therapy, but his ideas have been expanded upon by many contemporaries, particularly Carl Jung. Jung believed the idea of the Id, the Ego, and the Superego was too simplified and that the self involves many more selfs which interact. He also believed in the collective unconscious, which is the idea that all humans have an underlying set of memories regardless of race or upbringing.

Humanistic:
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This perspective operates on the idea that people should strive to achieve self actualization. In the mid 1940's Carl Rogers published a book which focused on the idea of client-centered therapy, which is a common form of humanistic therapy. This involves the therapist rephrasing and repeating the question to the patient so they can come to the answer by themselves, by providing unconditional positive regard and actively listening. There are computer programs which can provide this type of therapy for people, one of which can be found here This perspective can be seen at work in youth soccer leagues, when everyone receives a trophey regardless of how well they did. This is supposed to boost everyone's self esteem so that they can all reach their potential because they all feel good about themselves.


Bibliography:
Psychology Textbook
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bhwats.html
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bhpavl.html
http://www.simplypsychology.org/classical-conditioning.html
http://www.simplypsychology.org/operant-conditioning.html
http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive.html
http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2010/nov/05/phineas-gage-head-personality
http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-the-psychodynamic-perspective.htm
http://www.goodtherapy.org/Humanistic_Psychology.html