Basic Psychology: Definition, Objectives And Theories That Influence It

Basic psychology

To understand psychology we must imagine a giant mental map where we find, broadly speaking, two central concepts or backbones: applied psychology (practical part of psychology) and basic psychology (theoretical part).

Basic psychology studies the psychic processes and behaviors of the human being, as well as the laws that govern such processes and conduct. At the same time, it draws on different historical currents that we will learn about in this article.

For its part, applied psychology collects the contributions of basic psychology to put them into practice and solve people’s problems.

Basic psychology and applied psychology

Basic psychology is, in some ways, the most fundamental part of psychology. That is Applied psychology is based on basic psychology as a basic science. But what is applied psychology?

Broadly speaking, applied psychology is a concept that refers to the practical aspect of psychology; uses the knowledge obtained and the methods developed by basic psychology. That is, it puts into practice the knowledge obtained not only by basic psychology, but also by different branches of psychology (for example social, experimental, evolutionary, developmental psychology…).

The goal of applied psychology is to solve problems in daily life increasing people’s quality of life and making their functioning more positive and adaptive.

Furthermore, the different branches of applied psychology deal with the functionality of the aforementioned processes in the different environments of the individual.

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General psychology

But to talk about basic psychology, we must also understand what general psychology is; This is the part of basic psychology that studies mental processes and behavior in the individual considered normal and mature.

This is why the specific contents of general psychology do not exactly coincide with all the knowledge of basic psychology.

Basic psychology: what is it?

For its part, basic psychology is a fundamental part of psychology, which is concerned with studying the psychic processes and behaviors of human beings, as well as the laws that govern such processes and conduct. It tries to explain the processes underlying the behavior that the organism develops or carries out.

That is, basic psychology covers all that knowledge of the mind and behavior that is not applied. Basic psychology focuses on a number of areas of knowledge or research.

Research areas

The areas that basic psychology investigates, mainly, are 6:

psychological currents

basic psychology It is nourished and supported by different psychological currents to develop its explanations and theories. At a historical level, the main currents that have nourished basic psychology were – and are – (in chronological order) a total of 9:

1. Structuralism

Started by Wundt at the beginning of the 19th century, it attempts to scientifically study consciousness (considered the object of psychology).

2. Functionalism

Developed by William James a little later, also in the 19th century. He is concerned with the functional and pragmatic approach to consciousness.

3. Psychoanalysis

Promoted by Sigmund Freud at the end of the 19th century. Freud began his studies of neurosis through psychoanalysis, as opposed to the traditional anatomical or physiological model.

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4. Russian reflexology

Developed by Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov discovers a procedure (the conditioned reflex) to study the dynamics of psychic activity which he calls “higher nervous activity.”

5. Behaviorism

Started in the USA at the beginning of the 20th century by John Watson. Watson, faced with the failure of introspection, looks for a method whose results are absolutely objective. Study behavior and its genesis, and use techniques that can control and change it.

6. Gestalt

Appears in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, by Wertheimer. He considers that “the whole is more than the sum of the parts,” and therefore does not intend to decompose the psychological phenomenon into parts.

7. Neobehaviorism

It originates in the 1930s by three main authors: Hull, Tolman and Skinner. It is based on the experimental analysis of behavior and its doctrine is based on operant conditioning (stimulus – response – reinforcer).

8. Cognitivism

It appeared in the 50s and 60s, promoted by Piaget and Neisser, as behaviorism began to be questioned due to its excessive reductionism, and cognitive variables began to be taken into account in the study of human activity.

9. Humanism

It also originates in the 50s and 60s, a little later than cognitivism, with authors such as Rogers, Allport and Maslow. It represents a conception of man close to the most traditional philosophical currents, and covers concepts such as self-realization and human motivation.

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