Monday 13 February 2017

What are the “Schools of Psychology”?

To begin with, let’s understand the concept of “School” and its definition. Then, we will discuss various schools of psychology.

Schools of Psychology
Schools of Psychology
In a layman’s term, a “school” is a set of persons or group of people who share common opinions, beliefs and outlook of a philosophy. For example, if a collection of people during the same age possesses similar kind of beliefs and express parallel opinions, they are called to be of the same school. A “school” suggests followership and uniformity.

Now, when we say “Schools of Psychology”, we mean a group of psychologists who associate themselves with the early leaders in the new discipline. Psychologists, who form a school, work on common problems and share a common systematic orientation or direction.

After having a sense of what “schools of psychology” are, now we will get to know various schools of psychology. These are the following:

Structuralism (or, Structural Psychology):  
Being termed as a theory of consciousness, “Structuralism” seeks to study the elements of conscious experience of an individual. This movement of Structuralism is largely considered to be the first “school of psychology”. It had represented the emergence of psychology as a discipline separate from philosophy. Structuralism was founded by Wilhelm Wundt and his pupil Edward Bradford Titchener

Wundt had set up in 1879 the first psychological laboratory at University of Leipzig in Germany. He had taught Titchener who entered his laboratory at the University of Leipzig in 1890 and earned his doctorate (Ph.D.) in 1892.

Psychologists who belong to this school of psychology (structuralism) believe that the key objective of psychology is to describe, analyze, and explain conscious experience. They seek to examine conscious experience by reducing it to basic conscious elements that in turn is broken down into basic elements. After that, they discover how these components integrate with each other to form more complex experiences.

Psychologists, belonging to this school of psychology, use the tool of “introspection” in order to find out various elements of consciousness. In the simplest term, Introspection refers to a careful set of observations under controlled conditions. Introspection is made by trained observers.

Titchener’s “theory of structuralism” answers the question of what each element of the mind is. According to him, “conscious experience” consists of three types of elements, namely Sensations", “Images, and “Affections. Titchener goes on the say that these mental elements combine and interact with each other in order to form conscious experience based on the idea of associationism. After that, Titchener’s theory of structuralism ask the question of why the elements interact in the way they do.
Structuralism psychology had lost its substantial influence after the death of Titchener in 1927. However, the movement of Structuralism led to the emergence of many counter-movements such as Functionalism, Behaviorism, and Gestalt psychology.

Structuralism had to face a lot of criticism mainly for its focus on “introspection” as the method by which psychologists claimed to get an understanding of conscious experience. According to critics, self-analysis was not possible because introspective students cannot appreciate the mechanisms of their own psychological (or mental) processes.

To know more about other Schools of Psychology, read my other posts. 
Click Here for School of Behaviorism