Many schools offer courses in Psychology. When I was a child I remember taking physics, chemistry, and biology during our high school vacations. Although I liked all three subjects, I cannot say that I ever really understood any of the scientific concepts behind them. However, when it came to psychology I found that it was not quite the same. My understanding of the concepts was hazy at best.
As a result, my education in psychology fell by the wayside as I continued my education. Then, in the early 1990s, a friend who was working in the public health department asked me to speak about public health and how I believed it could be improved by psychological principles. Since then, I have dedicated my efforts to teaching others the importance of psychology in society. I am now a professor of applied research in the field of psychology at a leading university.
There are several types of psychology. Most psychologists fall into one of two categories-behavioral or cognitive psychologists. Behaviorists study behavior in terms of individual behavior and the social influences that promote that behavior. Cognitive psychologists, on the other hand, study the brain and how it applies the known psychological principles. They are interested in how the brain constructs and uses reality to create desired outcomes and understand the links between abnormal behavior and the functioning of our mental health system.
While these two major branches of psychology differ widely in their specific areas of study, they both share many common areas of focus. For example, both psychologists look at the biological basis for abnormal behavior and the influence of learned behaviors on the person’s ability to function. Both also examine the effect of classical conditioning on behavior and both share the view that people can be treated effectively using behavior modification techniques that are designed to reduce the impact of classical conditioning on the individual.
In addition to these common areas of focus, however, there is a growing movement away from structuralism and towards functionalism. The proponents of functionalism believe that behavior is shaped by a structure in the brain and that it changes over time. This view is not similar to structuralism because structuralism assumes that all behavior is shaped by an initial brain structure that exists at birth. By contrast, proponents of functionalism believe that people’s behavior is shaped by their neural architecture, which changes over time as they experience changes in their environment.
Today, most psychologists subscribe to a version of structuralism or at least use some elements of structuralism when forming their psychological views. This may be because structuralism is useful for providing a unified psychological view of the individual. Because the basic assumptions of structuralism are easy to understand, it provides a model for analyzing the development of the human mind and its influences. It also provides a common vocabulary with which to compare different mental illnesses. However, proponents of functionalism have a more individualistic perspective and they tend to reject the assumptions and theories of structuralism.
As a whole, psychology encompasses a range of approaches to the study of behavior that span a broad spectrum of disciplines. The history of psychology is marked by constant conflict between how to explain behavior and how to treat it. Explaining behavior and treating mental illness have long been challenge for psychologists. As a result, psychology continues to improve and advance until today it is considered one of the most important parts of human life. As science and technology progress, psychology will only grow in importance.