Contemporary Perspectives (Chapter 1)

Contemporary Perspectives
Today there are six main perspectives, or assumptions about the nature of human
behavior and mental processes.
BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE – Our mental processes are made possible by the
nervous system, especially the brain. These psychologists look for the
connections between events in the brain, such as the activity of brain cells, and
behavior and mental processes. They are also interested in the influences of
hormones and genes.
COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE – Emphasizes the role played by thoughts in
determining behavior. Mental processes are studied in order to understand
human nature. They investigate the ways in which people perceive information
and make mental images of the world, solve problems, and dream and daydream.
Information processing is compared to computer science. People’s behavior is
influenced by their values, their interpretations, and their choices.
HUMANISTIC PERSPECTIVE – Stresses the human capacity for self-fulfillment
and the importance of consciousness, self-awareness, and the capacity to make
choices. Consciousness shapes people’s personalities. Personal experience is the
most important aspect of psychology. We are free to choose our own behavior,
don’t act upon stimuli. People are basically good and helpful to others.
PSYCHOANALYTIC PERSPECTIVE – Stresses the influence of unconscious
forces on human behavior. Focus less today on unconscious sexual and
aggressive impulses and more on conscious choices and self-direction.
LEARNING PERSPECTIVE – Emphasizes the effects of experience on behavior.
Learning is the essential factor in observing, describing, explaining, predicting,
and controlling behavior. Behavior is learned either from direct experience or by
observing other people.
SOCIOCULTURAL PERSPECTIVE – Addresses such issues as ethnicity, gender,
culture, and socio-economic status. These factors have a significant impact on
human behavior and mental processes.