The professional discipline I decided to focus on in this essay is psychology. The study of the human mind is such a neat and vast profession and field of study. Repko et al. (2020) defines the discipline’s perspective as seeing “human behavior as reflecting the cognitive constructs individuals develop to organize their mental activity.” So, as you can imagine, psychology covers a lot of ground— it is used in many different ways and in many different industries. The discipline of psychology currently covers “the nature of human behavior as well as the internal (psychosocial) and external (environmental) factors that affect this behavior” (Repko et al, 2020). However, it definitely has not always been so. As we go through a brief history of the discipline, you will see how much progress has been made in more recent years.
Officially, psychology emerged as its own discipline in the late 1800s, however it can be traced back as far as the early Greeks. Another earlier example of the thinking that led to the field of psychology, is a 17th century French philosopher named Rene Descartes started discussing the idea of Dualism, which basically states that the human mind and human body are two systems that are separate, and together they make up the human experience. By the mid-1800s, a German physiologist, Wilhelm Wundt, began using scientific methods to study humans’ reaction times. In 1873 Wundt published “Principles of Physiological Psychology” and in 1879 founded the world’s first psychology lab at Leipzig University. This is typically considered the official beginning of Psychology as it’s own professional discipline (Cherry, 2020).
Eventually, a former student of Wundt’s named Edward B. Titchener founded what is known as the First School of Thought within the discipline called “structuralism.” Around this time, psychology was really taking off in America. William James, one of the first well-known American psychologists, wrote and published a book called “The Principles of Psychology” that ultimately led to James being deemed the “Father of American Psychology.” His book not only became the standard text within the discipline, it introduced a completely new School of Thought known as “functionalism.” Both functionalism and structuralism focused on human consciousness, but each idea looked at them very differently. With the 20th century came the ideas of psychoanalysis from Sigmund Freud, and behaviorism from Ivan Pavlov (Cherry, 2020).
Although the most growth and accurate knowledge within the field has been discovered in more recent years, each of the ideas previously mentioned definitely contributed to the beginning of the discipline and principles of each are still used today. The second half of the 20th century brought us the new School of Thought, “humanism,” of which Carl Rogers is considered the founder of. Humanism includes the ideas of free will and self determination, as well as a theory created by Abraham Maslow called the “Hierarchy of Needs.” Through the 1950s and 1960s, cognitive psychology became the dominant approach within the field. This approach took into consideration both observable behaviors and what is happening within the mind. Today, most psychology professionals prefer an eclectic approach, including a combination of knowledge from multiple Schools of Thought (Cherry, 2020).
Throughout the history of psychology, we can see that many different research methods, whether they were reliable or not, were used to attain more knowledge of the mind. Cherry (2020) includes the following research methods used most often: Casual Relationships, Descriptive Research, and Relational or Correlational Research. With each of these research methods, psychologists can develop a hypothesis to test, eventually leading to new theories in the discipline. These theories are then documented in academic journals that cover a wide array of topics, such as American Psychologist Journal, Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice, Emotion Journal, Health Psychology Journal, Motivation Science, Law and Human Behavior, Psychology of Aging, Stigma and Health. You can access many popular disciplinary journals via the American Psychological Association (APA), a leading professional organizations representing the United States within the field of psychology.
Overall, there is plenty of potential for even more growth within the discipline. As technology advances, we gain access to more and more knowledge, and are able to further understand aspects of psychology. It is amazing to see how far the field has come, and exciting to think about what could be discovered in the future.
Cherry, K. (2020). Introduction to Psychology Research Methods. http://www.verywellmind.com/introduction- to-research-methods-2795793
Cherry, K. (2020). The Origins of Psychology: from philosophical beginnings to the modern day. http://www.verywellmind.com/a-brief-history-of-psychology-through-the-years-2795245
Repko, A., Szostak, R., Buchberger, M. (2020). Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies. Sage.