Introduction to Psychology
There are many different types of psychology, but the defining characteristic that ties all the differing approaches together is that psychology is the study of human thoughts and behaviours.
Psychology stretches from studies on perception and how we literally see the world, to research on political ideologies and group identities.
Where there are two psychologists there are often three opinions, with many different types of psychology, approaches and perspectives – neuroscientists, behaviourists, psychoanalysts and social psychology researchers to name but a few.
Different Types of Psychology
Whilst the overall subject is called psychology, there are many different types of psychology.
Some psychological approaches are complimentary of each other, whilst others are diametrically opposed and contradict the research findings of a different perspective.
This diverse range of opinions makes psychology an extremely interesting and exciting field of scientific study, but it can sometimes be confusing; how can two opposite opinions both claim to be scientifically accurate?
In many ways this is a similar puzzle to that of how Left, Right and Centrist politicians can all claim to be doing what’s ‘best’ for their country. A lot of research is subject to interpretation, methodological implications, and sometimes ideological biases.
It’s also true that different types of psychology dip in and out of fashion.
The three decades following the conclusion of the First World War saw a huge interest in behaviourism.
Watson, Skinner and co. led the field in the study of human behaviour.
The underlying assumption of behaviourist psychology is that psychology ought to be the study of observable behaviours. To understand an individual’s thoughts, one need only observe his behaviour.
Watson famously declared that, given his own specified environment he could raise a child to take on any profession or vocation, ranging from lawyer to criminal.
The 1950s saw a dramatic shift in psychological research. The Cognitive Revolution drove research towards the study of higher mental processes.
Key areas of interest became memory, attention and learning.
One of the defining characteristics of cognitive psychology is that it models abstract concepts that cannot be physically seen, but the evidence of their existence is unquestionable.
For example, one cannot see memory but it is clear from observation that memory must exist.
An interest in developmental psychology grew in the late 19th Century, with Darwin and others scientifically observing and recording the development of their own children.
The discipline has grown and blossomed through the 20th Century and into the 21st.
The topics of research are varied and range from early attachments in infants right the way through to old age.
In some ways, all psychology is social psychology since we are studying humans, who live in a social world. The specific field of social psychology studies social factors affecting an individual’s behaviours, attitudes and identities.
About Psychology Unlocked
Psychology Unlocked is an easy to use resource for students of Psychology and those with a general interest in the subject. Articles are written with A-Level, AP and Undergraduate Psychology Courses in mind, whilst the regular video blog posts aim to expand your knowledge of current and landmark research across a wide range of topics.