Psychology Notes Maharashtra PSC Exam Schools of Thought Part 5

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Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939) was the founder of psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic approach to psychology.

This school of thought emphasized the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior. Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements:

  • The Id,
  • The Ego,
  • The Superego.

Freud՚s theories of psychosexual stages, the unconscious, and dream symbolism remain a popular topic among both psychologists and laypersons.

Major Thinkers Associated with Psychoanalysis

  • Sigmund Freud
  • Anna Freud
  • Erik Erikson

Key Psychoanalysis Terms

Case Study –

  • An in-depth study of one person.
  • Much of Freud՚s work and theories were developed through individual case studies.
  • In a case study, nearly every aspect of the subject՚s life and history is analyzed to seek patterns and causes for behavior.
  • The hope is that learning gained from studying one case can be generalized to many others.
  • Unfortunately, case studies tend to be highly subjective and it is difficult to

Generalize Results to a Larger Population

Conscious –

  • In Freud՚s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscious mind includes everything that is inside of our awareness.
  • This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about in a rational way.

Defense Mechanism –

  • A tactic developed by the ego to protect against anxiety.
  • Defense mechanisms are thought to safeguard the mind against feelings and

thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with.

  • In some instances, defense mechanisms are thought to keep inappropriate or unwanted thoughts and impulses from entering the conscious mind.

Ego –

  • The ego is the part of personality that mediates the demands of the id, the

superego and reality.

  • The ego prevents us from acting on our basic urges (created by the id) , but also

works to achieve a balance with our moral and idealistic standards (created by the superego) .

Id –

  • The personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs and desires.

Superego –

  • The component of personality composed of our internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and from society.
  • The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally rather than realistically.

Unconscious –

  • A reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges and memories that outside of our conscious awareness.
  • Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety or conflict.
  • According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experiences even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.

Criticisms of Psychoanalysis

  • Freud՚s theories overemphasized the unconscious mind, sex, aggression and childhood experiences.
  • Many of the concepts proposed by psychoanalytic theorists are difficult to measure and quantify.
  • Most of Freud՚s ideas were based on case studies and clinical observations rather than mpirical, scientific research.

Strengths of Psychoanalysis

  • While most psychodynamic theories did not rely on experimental research, the methods and theories of psychoanalytic thinking contributed to experimental psychology.
  • Many of the theories of personality developed by psychodynamic thinkers are still influential today, including Erikson՚s theory of psychosocial stages and Freud՚s psychosexual stage theory.
  • Psychoanalysis opened up a new view on mental illness, suggesting that talking about problems with a professional could help relieve symptoms of psychological distress.


What is Behaviorism?

Basic Assumptions

  • Behaviorist School of Psychology was founded by John B. Watson.
  • Based on the belief that behaviors can be measured, trained, and changed.
  • Behaviorism was established with the publication of Watson՚s classic paper in

1913: “Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It.”

  • According to behaviorism, behavior can be studied in a systematic and observable manner with no consideration of internal mental states.
  • This school of thought suggests that only observable behaviors should be studied, since internal states such as cognitions, emotions and moods are too subjective.
  • Behaviorism, also known as behavioral psychology, is a theory of learning based upon the idea that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Conditioning occurs through interaction with the environment. Behaviorists believe that our responses to environmental stimuli shape our behaviors.

There are two major types of conditioning:

Classical Conditioning

It is a technique used in behavioral training in which a naturally occurring stimulus is paired with a response. Next, a previously neutral stimulus is paired with the naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke the response without the presence of the naturally occurring stimulus. The two elements are then known as the conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response.

Operant Conditioning

Operant conditioning (sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning) is a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.

Major Thinkers in Behaviorism

Ivan Pavlov

B. F. Skinner

Edward Thorndike

John B. Watson

Clark Hull

Important Events in Behaviorism

1863 - Ivan Sechenov՚s Reflexes of the Brain were published. Sechenov introduced the concept of inhibitory responses in the central nervous system.

1900 - Ivan Pavlov began studying the salivary response and other reflexes.

1913 - John Watson՚s Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It was published. The article outlined the many of the main points of behaviorism.

1920 - Watson and assistant Rosalie Rayner conducted the famous “Little Albert” Experiment.

1943 - Clark Hull՚s Principles of Behavior was published.

1948 - B. F. Skinner published Walden II in which he described a utopian society founded upon behaviorist principles.

1959 - Noam Chomsky published his criticism of Skinner՚s behaviorism, “Review of Verbal Behavior.”

1971 - B. F. Skinner published his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, in which he argued that free will is an illusion

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