Multiple Perspectives in Psychology

The approach to psychology that we are currently in is referred to as multiple perspectives or psychological perspective theory. The belief is that there is not one singular psychological approach that is right or wrong, but rather, multiple perspectives that can (and do) overlap. 

Multiple Perspectives in Psychology Multiple Perspectives in Psychology

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    Psychology is the science that seeks to answer the major questions of human behavior and mental processes. Over history, psychologists had a hard time blending their various perspectives as they sought to answer the age-old question, is human behavior guided and molded by nature or nurture?

    Do we behave or mentally process things because of our genes/biology, or is it something else, perhaps in the way we are raised? If there is one thing modern psychologists agree on, it's that it takes multiple perspectives when researching psychology to get the full picture.

    • What are the perspectives of psychology?
    • How do these perspectives differ from one another?
    • What are the advantages to having multiple perspectives in psychology?
    • What are the disadvantages to having multiple perspectives in psychology?

    Examples of Multiple Perspective: Psychology

    There are five major psychological perspectives: biological, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive and humanistic. It is widely debated amongst psychologists which of these may be the better approach to psychology.

    There are seven main perspectives to consider when studying psychology. Let's consider each of them and what they might make of a common enough talking point in humans: introversion.

    Humanist Perspective

    The humanistic or humanist perspective in psychology focuses on individual will and the belief that most of our behavior is based on choice. We make our choices based on fulfilling an internal need. Two of the main psychologists in this approach are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. While this perspective is not easily tested scientifically, many therapeutic psychologists find it helpful to look at the behavior of their patients and thus, help them overcome obstacles.

    The humanistic perspective would explain introversion as simply the behavior of a person whose social needs are filled up; therefore, they do not enjoy larger social engagements.

    Psychoanalytic Perspective

    The psychoanalytic perspective in psychology looks at our unconscious mind. It holds that parts of us that we are not aware of control many of our actions. Psychologists might establish this through dream analysis or word associations. While these are characteristically controversial psychological practices, the psychoanalytical perspective is still important to consider.

    The psychoanalytic perspective would explain introversion as a response to an unconscious memory or trauma, causing avoidance of social engagements.

    Biopsychology Perspective (Neuroscience)

    The biopsychology perspective seeks to explain human thought and behavior by looking at biological processes. This theory holds that cognition is caused by a series of biological factors such as genes, hormones, and neurotransmitters.

    The biopsychology perspective seeks to explain human thought and behavior by looking at biological processes. StudySmarterMultiple DNA strands. pixabay.com

    The biopsychology perspective would explain introversion as potentially hereditary, and based on the number of neurotransmitters a person has.

    Evolutionary Perspective

    The evolutionary perspective focuses on understanding human behavior from the perspective of natural selection. It looks at what behavioral traits humans have developed to increase survival chances, thus boosting the likelihood that those traits will be passed down through the generations.

    The evolutionary perspective would seek to explain introversion as a survival tactic.

    Behavioral Perspective

    The behavioral perspective seeks to explain human behavior as a reaction to conditioning from childhood.

    The behavioral perspective would explain introversion as the individual's being conditioned to enjoy smaller events or fewer people; possibly because of being an only child, having a family that did not go to any events, or having strict parents who did not encourage social activities.

    Cognitive Perspective

    The cognitive perspective in psychology focuses on things such as processing and memory as ways to explain human behavior. This perspective focuses on an individual's personal view of the world, and how they perceive and process their environment.

    The cognitive perspective focuses on individual perspective, so it might explain an introverted person as someone who perceives their time alone as valuable; maybe they have fond memories of alone time growing up.

    Socio-cultural Perspective

    The socio-cultural perspective in psychology looks at the influence of culture on human behavior. This is important because different cultures show differences in behaviors, mannerisms, gestures, and values. While some people in New York City might view the subway as a music venue, commuters in Tokyo are typically quiet and respectful of others in the area. This difference in behavior can be explained by the socio-cultural perspective; New York has a highly individualistic culture, while the group has a high value in Tokyo.

    While some people in New York City might view the subway as a music venue, commuters in Tokyo are typically quiet and respectful of others in the area. This difference in behavior can be explained by the socio-cultural perspective. StudySmarterA subway station platform. pixabay.com

    The socio-cultural perspective might explain introversion as cultural. Even different cities within the same region might have different values involving social interactions.

    Advantages of Multiple Perspectives in Psychology

    Having multiple perspectives in psychology allows for psychologists to gain a more complete understanding. Like looking at one side of a three-dimensional object, psychologists who only look at one perspective only get a partially correct answer. The different perspectives in psychology are meant to work together to explain human behavior and mental processes more fully.

    A more complete understanding of why humans behave the way we do gives us a better chance of changing behavior. In mental health, for instance, many psychologists use various psychological therapies in conjunction with medications. There is an understanding that perception, trauma, biology, conditioning, and culture can play a role in unwanted behavior, thoughts, or mental states. Surely understanding all these will equip us better to find solutions that treat the whole person, rather than focusing on just one part or symptom.

    Disadvantages of Multiple Perspectives in Psychology

    One of the main disadvantages of having multiple perspectives in psychology is that the field seems fragmented. In other scientific and mathematic fields, there is generally understood to be one truth. 2 +2 =4, and it equals 4 every time. In psychology, there can be many answers simultaneously. This can come across as scattered and disunited.

    What is the truth if there can be more than one answer?

    Multiple Perspectives in Psychology - Key takeaways

    • The concept of multiple perspectives is that there is not one singular perspective that is right, and one that is wrong.
    • The humanistic or humanist perspective in psychology focuses on individual will and the belief that most of our behavior is based on choice. We make our choices based on fulfilling our internal needs.
    • The psychoanalytic perspective in psychology looks at our unconscious mind. It holds that parts of us that we are not aware of control many of our actions.
    • The biopsychology perspective seeks to explain human thought and behavior by looking at biological processes.
    • The evolutionary perspective focuses on understanding human behavior from the perspective of natural selection.
    • The behavioral perspective seeks to explain human behavior as a reaction to conditioning from childhood.
    • The cognitive perspective in psychology focuses on cognitive processes such as memory as a way to explain human behavior.
    • The socio-cultural perspective in psychology looks at the influence of culture on human behavior.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Multiple Perspectives in Psychology

    What are the psychological perspectives?

    The psychological perspectives are the Humanist Perspective, the Psychoanalytic Perspective, the Biopsychology Perspective, the Evolutionary Perspective, the Behavioral Perspective, the Cognitive Perspective, and the Socio-cultural Perspective. 

    What are examples of psychological perspectives?

    An example of psychological perspectives are: 

    • The evolutionary perspective would seek to explain introversion as a survival tactic.
    • The biopsychology perspective would explain introversion as potentially hereditary, and based on the number of neurotransmitters a person has. 
    • The cognitive perspective focuses on individual perspective, so it might explain an introverted person as someone who perceives their time alone as valuable; maybe they have fond memories of alone time growing up. 

    Why does psychology have multiple perspectives?

    Psychology has multiple perspectives because it allows for psychologists to gain a more complete understanding. Like looking at one side of a three-dimensional object, psychologists who only look at one perspective only get a partially correct answer. The different perspectives in psychology are meant to work together to explain human behavior and mental processes more fully.

    What is an example of humanistic perspective?

    The humanistic perspective would explain introversion as simply the behavior of a person whose social needs are filled up; therefore, they do not enjoy larger social engagements.   

    How would the psychoanalytic perspective regard introspection? 

    The psychoanalytic perspective would explain introversion as a response to an unconscious memory or trauma, causing avoidance of social engagements. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

     The _____ ________ might explain introversion as cultural. Even different cities within the same region might have different values involving social interactions.  

    The _____ ______ seeks to explain human thought and behavior by looking at biological processes. 

    The ______ ______  in psychology focuses on individual will and the belief that most of our behavior is based on choice, and we make our choices based on fulfilling an internal need. 

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