Overview of Perspectives in Modern Psychology
Scientists can now study the effects of brain damage, drug and alcohol abuse, disease and mental illness
Hello, my name is Katherine Wald. I'm a licensed psychotherapist for About.com. Today we're going to be discussing an overview of modern psychology practices. Modern psychology deals with individuals from a number of different perspectives.The biological perspective emphasizes physical and biological aspects and how they impact human behavior. This model has become increasingly important in the field of psychology, particularly in utilizing the latest medical advances such as MRI and PET scans which enable the brain to be mapped. Scientists can now study the effects of brain damage, drug and alcohol abuse, disease and mental illness in new and innovative ways.Pioneered by Viennese neurologist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the psychoanalytic perspective targets the unconscious mind. Psychoanalysts believe that a person's past memories and experiences remain in their unconscious and continue to affect their behavior in the present day.The behavioral perspective focuses on learning and reinforcement of behavior. Once dominant in the early half of the 20th century, the behavioral perspective began to decline in popularity in the 1950's. Nevertheless, many behavioral techniques are still commonly used by therapists in mental health treatment settings to target certain patient behaviors.The cognitive perspective gained considerable influence during the 1960's. This approach focuses on the mental processes of the human mind such as memory, language, thinking, decision making and problem solving. This approach also addresses how people absorb information and store it by utilizing scientific methods that go deep into a person's mind.The humanistic perspective describes people who approach life with a positive attitude. It addresses the role of motivation on thought and behavior, freeing people from a set fate through free will.The evolutionary perspective focuses on the study of evolution and how it impacts people on a physiological level. Utilizing the principles of evolution (such as natural selection), evolutionary psychologists believe that language and perception are adaptations and that mental processes exist because they support reproduction and survival.The cross-cultural perspective is a recent approach that studies the behavior of individuals across various different cultures. By examining cultural differences, psychologists and researchers study how thinking and behavior is influenced by the culture of individuals.For more information on psychological development, visit our Psychology section at About.com.