Approaches in Psychology




The Origins of Psychology

Wundt (1832–1920)

·      Was the first person to call himself a psychologist, believing that all aspects of nature including the human mind can be studied scientifically.

·      His approach paved the way for acceptance of psychology as a science in its own right, and experimental psychology as the preferred method of studying human behaviour.


Wilhelm Wundt



Place of Work

Leipzig University

What institute did he found?

The Institute of experimental psychology

What did he aim to study?

The structure of the human mind

What was the approach called?


What was the technique he used?



People were trained to report in detail on their inner experiences when presented with a stimulus such as a problem to solve or something to be memorized.


Just as our perceptual ability allows us to observe and make sense of the world, our introspective ability enables us to observe our inner world


The scientific process:

The ‘scientific’ approach to psychology was based on two major assumptions. First, all behaviour is seen as being caused (the assumption of determinism). Second, if a behaviour is determined, then it should be possible to predict how human beings would behave in different conditions (the assumption of predictability). It is based on the view of empiricism (all knowledge is acquired from sensory experience).


 The scientific method refers to the use of investigative methods that are objective, systematic and replicable.


Objective –

Researchers so not let preconception or biases influence the collection of their data.


Systematic –

Observations/experiments are carried out in an orderly way. Measurement and recording of empirical data are carried out accurately and with due consideration for the possible influence of other factors on the results obtained.


Replicable –

Observations can be repeated by other researchers to determine whether the same results are obtained. If results are not replicable then they are reliable and cannot be seen as universally true.


This allows theories to be reviewed and refined to develop new scientific theories. The constant testing and refining of these theories through further observation completes the scientific cycle.



Evaluation of the scientific process/method:



Because of its reliance on objective and systematic methods of observation, knowledge acquired using the scientific method is more than just the passive acceptance of facts. Because scientific methods rely on a belief in determinism, they are able to establish the causes of behaviour through the use of methods that are both empirical and replicable.

Psychological research lacks objectivity. In Psychology, the object of study reacts to the researcher and this leads to problems, such as experimenter bias and demand characteristics. This may reduce the validity of the research.

Scientific psychologists create contrived situations that tell us little about how people act in more natural environments. Much of the subject matter of psychology is unobservable, therefore cannot be measured with any degree of accuracy.

Simply using the scientific method may


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