Theories of psychology
Understanding psychology in the present times is a complicated affair. There are many approaches that have been upheld by prominent psychologists and social scientist in the study of psychology. The most prominent among all these theories are: behaviorism perspectives, cognitive theory of psychology and structuralism perspective of psychology (McGuire, 2004). These theories hold different views and work on different assumptions and principles. They were founded at different times in history, but bear some similarities. This paper gives brief explanations of all these theories, examples to illustrate them and a brief discussion of the roles of all these theories in psychology today. Additionally, the paper endeavors to give a few similarities and differences among the perspectives.
Behaviorism is an approach to the study f human psychology, associated with the 20th century. Arguably, the most common perspective of psychology, the theory argues that human behavior comes about as a result of conditioning (Michie & Johnston, 2012). This, in straightforward terms, means that human behavior is an aspect of nurture and not nature. A good example that can illustrate the meaning of this theory is the actuality that human behavior can be learnt and unlearnt. The theory was largely advocated for by John, B. Watson and B. F Skinner.
Cognitive theory of psychology
This theory focuses on the presumption that human behavior can best be understood through mental or thought processes. The explanation behind this perspective is that the average human being is sensible and logical. For example, a human being will always choose that thing which appears or seems most sensible to them.
The structuralism approach attempts to break down the elements of thought in to basic units that can easily be understood. Structuralism argues that people will always perceive things differently depending on the way their brains are uniquely structured to pick out and prioritize different things (McGuire, 2004). For instance, while one person may describe an apple as red and round, another may describe the same apple as crispy and ripe
Differences and similarities among the perspectives
Arguably, the approaches are more similar than they are different. For instance, they all seek to understand human behavior through studying elements of the mind. This applies to cognitive theory and structuralism. On the contrary, behaviorism focuses on behavior as a result of conditioning. Another similarity is the actuality that they all view humans as rational beings that get modified by the environment. The biggest difference among the theories is the reality that, while the behaviorism and the cognitive theory can be merged to form one comprehensive theory, structuralism cannot be merged with either (Michie & Johnston, 2012). Conversely, it can be comparable to functionalism. Similarly, while cognitive theory and structuralism view the human mind as a complex system, behaviorism views human behavior as a simple cause and effect concept.
Usefulness of the theories
All the above discussed theories are particularly useful in the study of psychology in the sense that they open up the human mind for such professionals as counselors. This way, the counselor can understand the unique needs of an individual in such a way that understanding them becomes easy, hence helping them becomes possible. The cognitive theory is especially important in forensic psychology, a concept that criminalists use to form what psychologists refer to as criminal profiling (McGuire, 2004). All these perspectives are particularly important in the world of psychology. Behaviorism can be a good approach in psychology when the idea is part of a multidisciplinary approach such as early intervention programs. The structuralism theory is useful in dealing with more than one person having different ideas regarding a subject matter. For instance, it can be used in establishing the rationale behind human prejudices.
McGuire, J. (2004). Understanding psychology and crime: Perspectives on theory and action. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Michie, S., & Johnston, M. (2012). Theories and techniques of behavior change: Developing a cumulative science of behavior change. Health Psychology Review, 6(1), 1-6.