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Week 4 discussion | history and systems


Psychology developed in the U.S. from several different perspectives; the first was the University Standard acquisition of viewpoints from European perspectives. Gestalt psychology is based on understanding the whole behavioral phenomenon instead of analyzing the individual components of behavior. Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory initially developed by Sigmund Freud through inductive reasoning and qualitative analysis of case studies. Quantitative scientific support for psychoanalysis has historically been lacking. Sigmund Freud spent much of his life developing a viewpoint of consciousness through his work in treating individuals with mental illness. American views of psychology emerged as a unique viewpoint; people like William James, John Dewey and James Cattell provided their own perspectives on psychology. Humanistic psychology also emerged as a school of psychology in part as a reaction to psychoanalysis and Behaviorism (we will cover in Week 5).

  • What are the basic principles of Gestalt psychology, and why was it important in the early life of psychology? What areas do you think were the Gestalt principles and avenues of research best suited for in modern psychology? In your opinion, is there a place for Gestalt psychology in current psychological research and application? Why?
  • From a scientific perspective, psychoanalysis or psychodynamic views have very little validity. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Justify your answer. Why did Freudian psychoanalysis have such a seemingly dominant influence, not on U.S. psychology development, but on popular culture?
  • How did the perspectives of empiricism and structuralism lead to the development of American functionalism? Does American functionalism differ significantly from its European heritage? Why?
  • Describe the main factors of humanistic psychology. Compare and contrast their views with those of their contemporaries, such as psychoanalytic. In terms of application, what would make humanistic psychology appealing?

Justify your answers with appropriate research and reasoning. Comment on the postings of at least two peers. Provide an analysis of each peer’s postings while also suggesting specific additions or clarifications for improving the discussion question response.

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