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Philosophical Concepts Within Psychology

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"Psychology is the science of mental processes and behaviors" (Kosslyn and Rosenberg, 2006). Until the late 19th century, psychology was considered a branch of philosophy. In 1950, Rudolph Goclenius, a German philosopher was credited with conceiving the term "psychology". In Greek, the root word of psychology, psyche, was defined by the word, soul. In the beginning years of psychology, it was thought as a religious study, as psychologists would try to examine the soul. Later years, psychology would become more well known as the study of the mind which was referred to as soul, and the study of the body (Bronfenbrenner,1979).

In 1879, Wilhelm Wudnt who is commonly referred to as the father of psychology, founded a laboratory at the Leipzig University in Germany, that was created for the specific purpose of studying psychology. Another early psychologist that set the stage for others was William James. William James published the book, Principles of Psychology, in 1890, which laid the foundation for many psychological questions that would follow in later years. Hermann Ebbinghaus was another early contributor to psychology. He broke new ground in the field of studying memory. One of the most well known early psychologists was Ivan Pavlov who discovered the what we know as today as classical conditioning (Kosslyn and Rosenberg, 2006).

One of the most prominent psychologists known is Sigmund Freud. Freud who never went to school for experimental psychology, had invented a section of psychotherapy, which we know today as psychoanalysis. Freud based many of his ideas of interpretive method and introspection, but focused mainly on finding a way to battle mental illnesses. Freud's theories became very well known because they discussed taboo subjects such as sex. Freud's use pf psychology in clinical work has influenced many of today's psychologists (Macmillan, 1991).

Naпve empiricism suggests that "conceptual nature does not exist. This branch of philosophy would ignore constructs such as memory, consciousness, and intelligence and claim that they should not be studied because they are not directly observable" (Frisina, 2006). In contrast, "sophisticated empiricists would argue for the importance of conceptual nature and would want to study many of the constructs found in psychology today. They would argue that even if we can't experience something directly then we can try to determine its existence through indirect means" (Frisina, 2006).

"Behaviorism is the school of psychology that focuses on how a specific stimulus (object, person, or event) evokes a specific response (behavior in reaction to the stimulus)," (Kosslyn and Rosenberg, 2006). Behaviorists believed that psychology should be largely based on the understanding of what can be directly observed (Kosslyn and Rosenberg, 2006). The behaviorist school of thought became apparent at the same time the psychoanalysis movement was taking place in the 20th century. Behaviorism was mainly influenced by Ivan Pavlov who researched classical conditioning, John B. Watson who discarded introspective methods and tried to restrict psychology just to experimental methods, and B.F. Skinner who performed research on operant conditioning (Baum, 2005).

B.F. Skinner was an American psychologist that first conducted work on experimental psychology and believed highly in the study of behaviorism. Skinner developed a branch of psychology known as behavior analysis. The framework of behavior analysis included animal and human behavior based on principles of learning. He performed research on shaping behavior through negative and positive reinforcement and demonstrated operant conditioning.



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