Perhaps the major thing that separates humans from animals is our capability to understand ourselves. We are more than a collection of behaviors, emotions, hunger, and thirst. We seek to know WHY we behave, WHY we feel, and WHY we seek food and drink. Other animals just do. We do and wonder why we do it.
200px-Aristotle_Altemps_Inv8575.jpg
Aristotle


The First Wave: Philosophy
Psychology is the scientific study of human and animal behavior. Its story begins over 2,000 years ago - long before the idea of science had ever been invented. Like science itself, psychology began with philosophy. And, like science itself, it began with one guy: Aristotle Where other philosophers just thought about stuff and declared their ideas awesome, Artistotle was the first to use data to inform his ideas. In other words, he thought looking at what the world was a better way to figure out the world than sitting in his office and making stuff up.

One of the things Aristotle came up with was the idea that the mind and the body were connected - that one could influence the other. Psychology was born.

Then we had almost 2,000 years where nothing happened. That's why they call it the Dark Ages. Greece and Rome fell. Since these two cultures were the centers for western scholarship, their deaths led to massive chaos and ignorance. Most people couldn't read. Those who could read thought Aristotle perfect, and they liked to torture and kill anyone who questioned his ideas. Aristotle was a bright guy, but certainly not perfect. Nowadays, we realize that most of his ideas were pretty silly.

Then, in Italy, science made a comeback. You might even call it a "rebirth." Historians call it "The Renaissance," which means, oddly enough, "rebirth." People like Galileo started studying the world again. Like Isaac Newton later, Gallileo risked execution to find his own answers to why the world worked. He was caught, but he only got sentenced to house arrest. Hey, it's better than what happened to others who questioned authority back then.

The work work of people like Gallileo led to a gradual development of the scientific method as a way to understand, explain, describe, and predict the natural world. With all this science going on, people started figuring stuff out. That's why it's called "The Enlightenment."

During this time, early scientists Rene Descartes and Francis Bacon began to do experiments to figure out how the world worked. Their work led to tthe first important vocabulary word of psychology: empiricism. Empiricism is the idea that you can't believe anything unless you have seen it and measured it. You don't believe anything just because someone says its true. Faith doesn't count. Logic doesn't count. Hard data is all that matters. Basically, you need an empirical attitude to work as a scientist.

The Second Wave: Early Science

The thing is, though, that psychology is not like other sciences. It's pretty easy to measure chemical reactions if you have the right equipment. How do you measure the workings of the human mind and its effects on behavior? First, Wilhelm Wundt asked people to press a button when they heard a noise. This the first psychological experiment in the first psychology laboratory ever. It gave the first ever empirical data in psychology.

Then came Edward Titchener. He used the process of introspection. He asked people to describe their experience of things. Using this method, he founded a school of thought called Structuralism: he was looking for the basic structure of the mind.

Later came William James. He is considered the father of psychology. He was concerned not so much with the structure of the mind, but with the function: what is the purpose of our mind's workings? His group of psychologists are called the functionalists. James was the first psychology professor ever.

The Third Wave: Psychology's Big Six

All of this
Freud
Freud
led to psychology's development. It got popular, as it did, many different scientists got interested in it. Eventually, six major ways of explaining human behavior developed in the 2oth century. We call them "schhols of thought."

1. Psychoanalysis: Perhaps the most famous psychologist in history is Sigmund Freud. He founded the school known a s psychoanalysis. According to this group, humans have an unconscious mind that controls their behavior. Memories, thoughts, desires, and fears that you are not even aware of work behind the scenes to control your
Skinner
Skinner
behavior.

2. Behaviorism: The second most famous psychologist in history is B.F. Skinner. He and his followers, John Watson and Edmund Thorndike, believed that the psychoanalysts were not empirical enough. How can you see an measure the inner workings of the unconscious mind? So they figured, forget it. We can't see it so we'll act like it doesn't exist. For them, human behavior is observable and measurable where the mind is not. They noticed that people change their behavior in response to rewards and punishments. So their big thing is that human beh
Rogers
Rogers
avior is controlled by rewards and punishments.

3. Humanism: Carl Rogers thought that both the psychoanalysts and the behaviorists were off the mark. He believed that humans have free will and that we all have a unique potential that we all seek to fulfill. He believed in free choice and the special path of each human being.
Chomsky
Chomsky


4. Cognitive: To cognate is to think. Cognitive psychologists like Noam Chomsky believe that human behavior is controlled by the way that the mind process information. They see the mind as like a computer, processing information and doing what it is programmed to do. Any problems come from bad programming.

5. Biological
Zimbardo
Zimbardo
: This group, led by people like Michael Gazzaniiga, believes that we are controlled by biology. Our behavior is a product of the complex chemistry of hormones, neurotransmitters, electical currents, heart beat, and other natural factors that combine within our brains and bodies.

6. Social-Cultural: The important contribution of this group is that they stress the contribution of the situation on human behavior. We all act differently based on what is going on around us, and the environment we are in. This group includes some very prominent psychologists such as Philip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram. This video is a summary of Zimbardo's famous "Stanford Prison Experiment," which showed us how the behavior of "normal" people can change when they are placed in an extreme situation.