Archive for the ‘Psychology of Education’ Category

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Monday, December 10th, 2012

In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement involves anything that follows a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.

One of the easiest ways to remember positive reinforcement is to think of it as something being added. By thinking of it in these terms, you may find it easier to identify real-world examples of positive reinforcement.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement:

Consider the following examples:

  • After you execute a turn during a skiing lesson, your instructor shouts out, “Great job!”
  • At work, you exceed this month’s sales quota so your boss gives you a bonus.
  • For your psychology class, you watch a video about the human brain and write a paper about what you learned. Your instructor gives you 20 extra credit points for your work.

Can you identify the positive reinforcement in each of these examples? The ski instructor offering praise, the employer giving a bonus and the teacher providing bonus points are all examples of positive reinforcers. In each of these situations, the reinforcement is an additional stimulus occurring after the behavior that increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future.

An important thing to note is that positive reinforcement is not always a good thing. For example, when a child misbehaves in a store, some parents might give them extra attention or even buy the child a toy. Children quickly learn that by acting out, they can gain attention from the parent or even acquire objects that they want. Essentially, parents are actually reinforcing the misbehavior. In this case, the better solution would be to use positive reinforcement when the child is actually displaying good behavior.

Different Types of Positive Reinforcers:

There are many different types of reinforcers that can be used to increase behaviors, but it is important to note that the type of reinforcer used depends upon the individual and the situation. While gold stars and tokens might be very effective reinforcement for a second-grader, they are not going to have the same effect with a high school or college student.

  • Natural reinforcers are those that occur directly as a result of the behavior. For example, a girl studies hard, pays attention in class and does her homework. As a result, she gets excellent grades.
  • Token reinforcers are points or tokens that are awarded for performing certain actions. These tokens can then be exchanged for something of value.
  • Social reinforcers involve expressing approval of a behavior, such as a teacher, parent or employer saying or writing “Good job” or “Excellent work.”
  • Tangible reinforcers involve the presentation of an actual, physical reward such as candy, treats, toys, money and other desired objects. While these types of rewards can be powerfully motivating, they should be used sparingly and with caution.

When Is Positive Reinforcement Most Effective?

When used correctly, positive reinforcement can be very effective. According to a behavioral guidelines checklist published by Utah State University, positive reinforcement is most effective when it occurs immediately after the behavior. The guidelines also recommend the reinforcement should be presented enthusiastically and should occur frequently.

The shorter the amount of time between a behavior and the presentation of positive reinforcement, the stronger the connection will be. If a long period of time elapses between the behavior and the reinforcement, the weaker the connection will be. It also becomes more likely that an intervening behavior might accidentally be reinforced.

by Kendra Cherry.

Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/operantconditioning/f/positive-reinforcement.htm

Classical vs Operant Conditioning

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Classical and operant conditioning are two important concepts central to behavioral psychology. While both result in learning, the processes are quite different. In order to understand how each of these behavior modification techniques can be used, it is also essential to understand how classical conditioning and operant conditioning differ from one another.

Let’s start by looking at some of the most basic differences.

Classical Conditioning

  • First described by Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist
  • Involves placing a neutral signal before a reflex
  • Focuses on involuntary, automatic behaviors

Operant Conditioning

    • First described by B. F. Skinner, an American psychologist
    • Involves applying reinforcement or punishment after a behavior
    • Focuses on strengthening or weakening voluntary behaviors

    How Classical Conditioning Works:

    Even if you are not a psychology student, you have probably at least heard about Pavlov’s dogs. In his famous experiment, Ivan Pavlov noticed dogs began to salivate in response to a tone after the sound had been repeatedly paired with the presentation of food. Pavlov quickly realized that this was a learned response and set out to further investigate the conditioning process.

    Classical conditioning involves pairing a previously neutral stimulus (such as the sound of a bell) with an unconditioned stimulus (the taste of food). This unconditioned stimulus naturally and automatically triggers salivating as a response to the food, which is known as the unconditioned response. After associating the neutral stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, the sound of the bell alone will start to evoke salivating as a response. The sound of the bell is now known as the conditioned stimulus and salivating in response to the bell is known as the conditioned response.

    How Operant Conditioning Works:

    Operant conditioning focuses on using either reinforcement or punishment to increase or decrease a behavior. Through this process, an association is formed between the behavior and the consequences for that behavior. For example, imagine that a trainer is trying to teach a dog to fetch a ball. When the dog successful chases and picks up the ball, the dog receives praise as a reward. When the animal fails to retrieve the ball, the trainer withholds the praise. Eventually, the dog forms an association between his behavior of fetching the ball and receiving the desired reward.

    The Differences Between Classical and Operant Conditioning:

    One of the simplest ways to remember the differences between classical and operant conditioning is to focus on whether the behavior is involuntary or voluntary. Classical conditioning involves making an association between an involuntary response and a stimulus, while operant conditioning is about making an association between a voluntary behavior and a consequence.

    In operant conditioning, the learner is also rewarded with incentives, while classical conditioning involves no such enticements. Also remember that classical conditioning is passive on the part of the learner, while operant conditioning requires the learner to actively participate and perform some type of action in order to be rewarded or punished.

    Today, both classical and operant conditioning are utilized for a variety of purposes by teachers, parents, psychologists, animal trainers and many others. In animal training, a trainer might utilize classical conditioning by repeatedly pairing the sound of a clicker with the taste of food. Eventually, the sound of the clicker alone will begin to produce the same response that the taste of food would.

    In a classroom setting, a teacher might utilize operant conditioning by offering tokens as rewards for good behavior. Students can then turn in these tokens to receive some type of reward such as treat or extra play time.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/a/classical-vs-operant-conditioning.htm

    What Is Acquisition?

    Sunday, November 4th, 2012

    Acquisition refers to the first stages of learning when a response is established. In classical conditioning, it refers to the period of time when the stimulus comes to evoke the conditioned response.

    How Does It Work?

    How does acquisition occur? In classical conditioning, repeated pairings of the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the unconditioned stimulus (UCS) eventually leads to acquisition. Remember, the unconditioned stimulus is one that naturally evokes the unconditioned response (UCR). After pairing the CS with the UCS repeatedly, the CS alone will come to evoke the response, which is now known as the conditioned response (CR).

    Influences on Acquisition:

    A number of factors can influence how quickly acquisition occurs. First, the salience of the conditioned stimulus can play an important role. If the CS is to subtle, the learner may not notice it enough for it to become associated with the unconditioned stimulus. Stimuli that are more noticeable usually lead to faster acquisition.

    Second, timing plays a critical role. If there is too much of a delay between presentation of the conditioned stimulus and the unconditioned stimulus, the learner might not form an association between the two. The most effective approach is to present the CS and then quickly introduce the UCS so that there is an overlap between the two. As a rule, the greater the delay between the UCS and the CS, the longer acquisition will take.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/glossaryfromatoz/g/Acquisition.htm

    Principles of Classical Conditioning

    Monday, October 29th, 2012

    Behaviorists have described a number of different phenomena associated with classical conditioning. Some of these elements involve the initial establishment of the response, while others describe the disappearance of a response. These elements are important in understanding the classical conditioning process.

    Acquisition:

    Acquisition is the initial stage of learning when a response is first established and gradually strengthened. For example, if you are trying to teach a dog to shake in response to a verbal command, you can say the response has been acquired as soon as the dog shakes in response to only the verbal command. Once the response has been acquired, you can gradually reinforce the shake response to make sure the behavior is well learned.

    Extinction:

    Extinction is when the occurrences of a conditioned response decrease or disappear. In classical conditioning, this happens when a conditioned stimulus is no longer paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if the smell of food (the unconditioned stimulus) had been paired with the sound of a whistle (the conditioned stimulus), it would eventually come to evoke the conditioned response of hunger. However, if the unconditioned stimulus (the smell of food) were no longer paired with the conditioned stimulus (the whistle), eventually the conditioned response (hunger) would disappear.

    Spontaneous Recovery:

    Spontaneous Recovery is the reappearance of the conditioned response after a rest period or period of lessened response. If the conditioned stimulus and unconditioned stimulus are no longer associated, extinction will occur very rapidly after a spontaneous recovery.

    Stimulus Generalization:

    Stimulus Generalization is the tendency for the conditioned stimulus to evoke similar responses after the response has been conditioned. For example, if a child has been conditioned to fear a stuffed white rabbit, the child will exhibit fear of objects similar to the conditioned stimulus.

    Discrimination:

    Discrimination is the ability to differentiate between a conditioned stimulus and other stimuli that have not been paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if a bell tone were the conditioned stimulus, discrimination would involve being able to tell the difference between the bell tone and other similar sounds.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/behavioralpsychology/a/classcondbasics.htm

    How to Get — and Keep — Someone’s Attention.

    Friday, October 5th, 2012

    Want to captivate an audience? Here’s how.

    Sir Lancelot had the Holy Grail. Captain Ahab had Moby Dick. For scientists who study learning, the ultimate quest is to unlock the secrets of engagement. How do we engage students in learning, and then keep them in that state? So ardent is their search that it can lead them down paths that may seem, to the uninitiated, a bit silly — as demonstrated by two recent developments.

    Last month, it emerged that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has directed millions of dollars into educational research, has awarded grants to study the use of galvanic skin response sensors in the classroom. Immediately dubbed “mood bracelets” and “educational pedometers” by critics, these are small devices worn around the wrist that gauge the user’s physiological arousal by measuring the amount of sweat on the skin. The idea is that a teacher instructing a roomful of students wearing the devices would instantly know who was engaged and who was bored or distracted. The problem is that the sensors are inexact indicators of the wearer’s mental state: a student’s nervous system might be active because there’s test coming up next period — or because there’s an attractive classmate one desk over.

    (MOREBorn To Be Bright: Is There a Gene for Learning?)

    Then last week, a professor of physics education at Kennesaw State University in Georgia reported the results of a pilot study using special glasses that track where and how long wearers direct their gaze. After analyzing the data produced by undergraduates who wore the glasses during lectures, professor David Rosengrant concluded that it was not the case, as many teachers believe, that students were most engaged for the first 15 minutes or so of class, after which their attention gradually slacked off. Rather, he said, student engagement ebbed and flowed over the course of the 70-minute lecture, and spiked whenever the professor used humor, stood close to the student, or talked about material that was not included in the Power Point presentation projected on a screen at the front of the room. Rosengrant also determined that cell phones and the web — especially Facebook — were the greatest obstacles to maintaining students’ engagement in the classroom.

    Interesting, but hardly revelatory. Clearly, such devices have a long way to go before they can offer real insight into students’ thoughts and feelings. The irony is that, after many years of investigation, scientists already have a pretty good idea of what captures the attention of an audience — whether it’s students in a classroom, a group of coworkers at a meeting, or a gathering of guests in front of whom you’re making a toast. Follow the strategies below, and you won’t need a sweat sensor or special glasses to know that your listeners are fully engaged.

    (MOREWe Should Follow Those Who Finish Second, Not First)

    Stimulate curiosity. “Sometimes I think that we, as teachers, are so eager to get to the answers that we do not devote sufficient time to developing the question,” notes Dan Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia. “But it’s the question that piques people’s interest. Being told an answer doesn’t do anything for you.” Take the information you want your audience to know by the end and frame a question that will direct your listeners toward that answer.

    Introduce change and surprise. Human beings quickly become habituated to the status quo. When something in our environment shifts, however, we start paying attention again. A good rule of thumb is to switch things up every 15 minutes or so — tell a joke or a story, show a picture, address your topic in a different way.

    Stress relevance and concreteness. The human mind can’t handle too much abstraction.

    Tell stories. Researchers who study human cognition say that stories are “psychologically privileged” — that is, our minds treat them differently than other kinds of information.

    by Annie Murphy Paul.

    Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

    Thursday, August 16th, 2012

    What is Psychosocial Development?

    Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development is one of the best-known theories of personality in psychology. Much like Sigmund Freud, Erikson believed that personality develops in a series of stages. Unlike Freud’s theory of psychosexual stages, Erikson’s theory describes the impact of social experience across the whole lifespan.

    One of the main elements of Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory is the development of ego identity.1 Ego identity is the conscious sense of self that we develop through social interaction. According to Erikson, our ego identity is constantly changing due to new experiences and information we acquire in our daily interactions with others. In addition to ego identity, Erikson also believed that a sense of competence motivates behaviors and actions. Each stage in Erikson’s theory is concerned with becoming competent in an area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery, which is sometimes referred to as ego strength or ego quality.2 If the stage is managed poorly, the person will emerge with a sense of inadequacy.

    In each stage, Erikson believed people experience a conflict that serves as a turning point in development. In Erikson’s view, these conflicts are centered on either developing a psychological quality or failing to develop that quality. During these times, the potential for personal growth is high, but so is the potential for failure.

    Psychosocial Stage 1 – Trust vs Mistrust:

    • The first stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development occurs between birth and one year of age and is the most fundamental stage in life.2
    • Because an infant is utterly dependent, the development of trust is based on the dependability and quality of the child’s caregivers.
    • If a child successfully develops trust, he or she will feel safe and secure in the world. Caregivers who are inconsistent, emotionally unavailable, or rejecting contribute to feelings of mistrust in the children they care for. Failure to develop trust will result in fear and a belief that the world is inconsistent and unpredictable.

    Psychosocial Stage 2 – Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt:

    • The second stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development takes place during early childhood and is focused on children developing a greater sense of personal control.2
    • Like Freud, Erikson believed that toilet training was a vital part of this process. However, Erikson’s reasoning was quite different then that of Freud’s. Erikson believe that learning to control one’s bodily functions leads to a feeling of control and a sense of independence.
    • Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences, and clothing selection.
    • Children who successfully complete this stage feel secure and confident, while those who do not are left with a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/psychosocialtheories/a/psychosocial.htm

    Structuralism and Functionalism

    Thursday, August 16th, 2012

    When psychology was first established as a science separate from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. Structuralism emerged as the first school of thought and some of the ideas associated with the structuralist school were advocated by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. One of Wundt’s students, an man named Edward B. Tichener, would later go on to formally establish and name structuralism, although he broke away from many of Wundt’s ideas. Almost immediately other theories surfaced to vie for dominance in psychology. In response to structuralism, an American perspective emerged under the influence of thinkers such as Charles Darwin and William James.

    In 1906, Mary Whiton Calkins published an article in Psychological Review asking for a reconciliation between these two schools of thought. Structuralism and functionalism were not so different, she argued, since both are principally concerned with the conscious self. Despite this, aspersions continued to be cast by both sides. William James wrote that structuralism had “plenty of school, but no thought” (James, 1904), while Wilhelm Wundt dismissed functionalism as “literature.”

    Eventually both of these schools of thought lost dominance in psychology, replaced by the rise of behaviorism, psychoanalysis, and humanism.

    Structuralism:

    Structuralism was the first school of psychology and focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components. Researchers tried to understand the basic elements of consciousness using a method known as introspection. Wilhelm Wundt, founder of the first psychology lab, was an advocate of this position and is often considered the founder of structuralism, despite the fact that it was his student, Edward B. Titchener who first coined the term to describe this school of thought.

    While Wundt’s work helped to establish psychology as a separate science and contributed methods to experimental psychology and Titchener development of structuralism helped establish the very first “school” of psychology, the structuralism did not last long beyond Titchener’s death.

    Major Structuralist Thinkers:

    Criticisms of Structuralism:

    • By today’s scientific standards, the experimental methods used to study the structures of the mind were too subjective—the use of introspection led to a lack of reliability in results.
    • Other critics argue that structuralism was too concerned with internal behavior, which is not directly observable and cannot be accurately measured.

    Strengths of  Structuralism:

    • Structuralism is important because it is the first major school of thought in psychology.
    • Structuralism also influenced experimental psychology.

    Functionalism:

    Functionalism formed as a reaction to the structuralism and was heavily influenced by the work of William James and the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin. Functionalists sought to explain the mental processes in a more systematic and accurate manner. Rather than focusing on the elements of consciousness, functionalists focused on the purpose of consciousness and behavior. Functionalism also emphasized individual differences, which had a profound impact on education.

    Major Functionalist Thinkers:

    • William James
    • John Dewey
    • Harvey Carr
    • John Angell

    Criticisms of Functionalism:

    • “It is literature. It is beautiful, but it is not psychology,” said Wilhelm Wundt of functionalist William James’ The Principles of Psychology (Fancher, R.E., 1996).

    Strengths of Functionalism:

    • Influenced behaviorism and applied psychology.
    • Influenced the educational system, especially with regards to John Dewey’s belief that children should learn at the level for which they are developmentally prepared.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/structuralism.htm

    Major Schools of Thought in Psychology

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

    When psychology was first established as a science separate from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. The different schools of psychology represent the major theories within psychology.

    The first school of thought, structuralism, was advocated by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. Almost immediately, other theories began to emerge and vie for dominance in psychology.

    In the past, psychologists often identified themselves exclusively with one single school of thought. Today, most psychologists have an eclectic outlook on psychology. They often draw on ideas and theories from different schools rather than holding to any singular outlook.

    The following are some of the major schools of thought that have influenced our knowledge and understanding of psychology:

    Structuralism and Functionalism:

    Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components. Major structuralist thinkers include Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener. The focus of structuralism was on reducing mental processes down into their most basic elements. Structuralists used techniques such as introspection to analyze the inner processes of the human mind.

    Functionalism formed as a reaction to the theories of the structuralist school of thought and was heavily influenced by the work of William James. Major functionalist thinkers included John Dewey and Harvey Carr. Instead of focusing on the mental processes themselves, functionalist thinkers were instead interested in the role that these processes play.

    Behaviorism:

    Behaviorism became a dominant school of thought during the 1950s. It was based upon the work of thinkers such as:

    Behaviorism suggests that all behavior can be explained by environmental causes rather than by internal forces. Behaviorism is focused on observable behavior. Theories of learning including classical conditioning and operant conditioning were the focus of a great deal of research.

    Psychoanalysis:

    Psychoanalysis is a school of psychology founded by Sigmund Freud. This school of thought emphasizes the influence of the unconscious mind on behavior.

    Freud believed that the human mind was composed of three elements: the id, the ego and the superego. The id is composed of primal urges, while the ego is the component of personality charged with dealing with reality. The superego is the part of personality that holds all of the ideals and values we internalize from our parents and culture. Freud believed that the interaction of these three elements was what led to all of the complex human behaviors.

    Freud’s school of thought was enormously influential, but also generated a great deal of controversy. This controversy existed not only in his time, but also in modern discussions of Freud’s theories. Other major psychoanalytic thinkers include:

    Humanistic Psychology:

    Humanistic psychology developed as a response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Humanistic psychology instead focused on individual free will, personal growth and the concept of self-actualization. While early schools of thought were largely centered on abnormal human behavior, humanistic psychology differed considerably in its emphasis on helping people achieve and fulfill their potential.

    Major humanist thinkers include:

    Humanistic psychology remains quite popular today and has had a major influence on other areas of psychology including positive psychology. This particular branch of psychology is centered on helping people living happier, more fulfilling lives.

    Gestalt Psychology:

    Gestalt psychology is a school of psychology based upon the idea that we experience things as unified wholes. This approach to psychology began in Germany and Austria during the late 19th century in response to the molecular approach of structuralism. Instead of breaking down thoughts and behavior to their smallest elements, the gestalt psychologists believed that you must look at the whole of experience. According to the gestalt thinkers, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    Cognitive Psychology:

    Cognitive psychology is the school of psychology that studies mental processes including how people think, perceive, remember and learn. As part of the larger field of cognitive science, this branch of psychology is related to other disciplines including neuroscience, philosophy and linguistics.

    Cognitive psychology began to emerge during the 1950s, partly as a response to behaviorism. Critics of behaviorism noted that it failed to account for how internal processes impacted behavior. This period of time is sometimes referred to as the “cognitive revolution” as a wealth of research on topics such as information processing, language, memory and perception began to emerge.

    One of the most influential theories from this school of thought was the stages of cognitive development theory proposed by Jean Piaget.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/schoolsthought.htm

    Humanistic Psychology

    Saturday, July 14th, 2012

    During the 1950s, humanistic psychology began as a reaction to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, which dominated psychology at the time. Psychoanalysis was focused on understanding the unconscious motivations that drive behavior while behaviorism studied the conditioning processes that produce behavior. Humanist thinkers felt that both psychoanalysis and behaviorism were too pessimistic, either focusing on the most tragic of emotions or failing to take into account the role of personal choice.

    Humanistic psychology was instead focused on each individual’s potential and stressed the importance of growth and self-actualization. The fundamental belief of humanistic psychology is that people are innately good and that mental and social problems result from deviations from this natural tendency.

    During the late 1950s, Abraham Maslow and other psychologists held meetings to discuss the development of a professional organization devoted to a more humanist approach to psychology. They agreed that topics such as self-actualization, creativity and individuality and related topics were the central theme of this new approach. In 1961, they officially established the American Association for Humanistic Psychology.

    In 1962, Abraham Maslow published Toward a Psychology of Being, in which he described humanistic psychology as the “third force” in psychology. The first and second forces were behaviorism and psychoanalysis respectively.

    However, it is not necessary to think of these three schools of thought as competing elements. Each branch of psychology has contributed to our understanding of the human mind and behavior. Humanistic psychology added yet another dimension that takes a more holistic view of the individual.

    Major Thinkers in Humanistic Psychology:

    Important Events in Humanistic Psychology:

    • 1943 – Abraham Maslow described his hierarchy of needs in ‘A Theory of Human Motivation’ published in Psychological Review.
    • 1951- Carl Rogers published Client-Centered Therapy, which described his humanistic, client-directed approach to therapy.
    • 1961 – The American Association for Humanistic Psychology is formed and the Journal of Humanistic Psychology was established.
    • 1962 – American Association for Humanistic Psychology was formed.
    • 1971 – Humanistic psychology becomes an APA division.

    Criticisms of Humanistic Psychology:

    • Humanistic psychology is often seen as too subjective; the importance of individual experience makes it difficult to objectively study and measure humanistic phenomena. How can we objectively tell if someone is self-actualized? The answer, of course, is that we cannot. We can only rely upon the individual’s own assessment of their experience.
    • Another major criticism is that observations are unverifiable; there is no accurate way to measure or quantify these qualities.

    Strong Points of Humanistic Psychology:

    • One of the major strengths of humanistic psychology is that it emphasizes the role of the individual. This school of psychology gives people more credit in controlling and determining their state of mental health.
    • It also takes environmental influences into account. Rather than focusing solely on our internal thoughts and desires, humanistic psychology also credits the environment’s influence on our experiences.
    • Humanistic psychology continues to influence therapy, education, healthcare and other areas.
    • Humanistic psychology helped remove some of the stigma attached to therapy and made it more acceptable for normal, healthy individuals to explore their abilities and potential through therapy.

    Humanistic Psychology Today:

    Today, the concepts central to humanistic psychology can be seen in many other areas including other branches of psychology, education, therapy, political movements and other areas. For example, transpersonal psychology and positive psychology both draw heavily on humanist influences. The goals of humanistic psychology remain as relevant today as they were in the 1940s and 1950s. As Maureen O’Hara, former president of the Association of Humanistic Psychology, explained, “As the world’s people demand freedom and self-determination, it is urgent that we learn how diverse communities of empowered individuals, with freedom to construct their own stories and identities, might live together in mutual peace.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/hist_humanistic.htm

    What Is Psychoanalysis?

    Thursday, July 12th, 2012

    Sigmund Freud 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, and the superego.

    Freud’s theories of psychosexual stages, the unconscious, and dream symbolism remain a popular topic among both psychologists and laypersons, despite the fact that his work is viewed with skepticism by many today.

    Many of Freud’s observations and theories were based on clinical cases and case studies, making his findings difficult to generalize to a larger population. Regardless, Freud’s theories changed how we think about the human mind and behavior and left a lasting mark on psychology and culture.

    Another theorist associated with psychoanalysis is Erik Erikson. Erikson expanded upon Freud’s theories and stressed the importance of growth throughout the lifespan. Erikson’s psychosocial stage theory of personality remains influential today in our understanding of human development.

    Major Thinkers Associated With Psychoanalysis:

    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 empirical, 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.

    by Kendra Cherry.

    Read more @ http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/psychodynamic.htm