Unified Psychology.html

Unified Psychology.html

Unified Psychology

A unified theory of psychology or even a multidisciplinary approach to understanding human behavior may be a fantasy, or it may eventually be achieved; however, the reality is that in psychology it is more common to keep an open yet critical mind regarding the prevailing theories of psychology, as well as the application of psychological principles.

If you carefully examine how psychology has progressed over the last couple of centuries, it is necessary to include not only the perspectives and views that provided a positive move but those that provided dead-ends as well, such as phrenology. As we learn more about psychology and its development, it is important to gain a firm grasp of all aspects in order to gain a better appreciation of the most current perspectives. Those that work in psychology are never satisfied with how things are and continue to question and challenge the current views. In fact, a sound theory of today may be antiquated in the future.

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The Theory of Unified Psychology What is Unified Psychology? Is there a need to have a multitude of theories related to psychology? Some may say that it would be better to have one unified theory of psychology. Sternberg and Grigorenko (2001) provided some insight into a unified psychology as opposed to a psychology based on often competing theories of multiple individual contributions of the sub-disciplines. The premise was that unified psychology is an integrated study based on psychological phenomena rather than from a multiparadigmatic and multidisciplinary frame of reference. Sternberg and Grigorenko go on to explain:

Unified psychology involves giving up, or at least, putting aside, three bad habits that are commonplace among some psychologists. The bad habits are: (a) exclusive or almost exclusive reliance on a single methodology rather than multiple converging methodologies for studying psychological phenomena; (b) identification of scholars in psychology in terms of psychological subdisciplines rather than in terms of the psychological phenomena they study; and (c) adherence to single underlying paradigms for the investigation of psychological phenomena. (p. 1069)

Sternberg, Grigorenko, and Kalmar (2001) continue the explanation of a unified psychology by expanding on a unified theory of psychology. They provide an expanded explanation of the three bad habits with some solutions. To gain a better understanding, let’s take a look at how a traditional psychology department at a university may be designed. Traditional vs Unified Psychology Each department typically includes faculty members who are trained in a specific area of study based on a particular school or field of psychology, such as behavioral, clinical, and cognitive. There may even be only one main focus of a department, such as behavior analysis. Students taking courses in this area can expect that courses will be delivered from the perspective of behavior analysis (or whichever field their professor specializes in). In a unified psychology department, the student would specialize in one or more areas of study based on a particular phenomenon such as learning, discrimination, aggression, and/or mental disorders. In practicality many psychology courses are designed around a multiple viewpoint (field of study) perspective. Take for example the Abnormal Psychology course. In that course you probably covered the different viewpoints and perspectives for a particular disorder or condition. The multiple viewpoint perspective helps broaden the understanding of the disorder.



In practicality, does a unified psychology approach make sense? In one aspect, Melchert (2013) compared other sciences and their ability to move to a unified approach or theory. For example, physics and biology have been sciences much longer than psychology. They are a very diverse group, and in some aspects, it doesn’t appear that either science is moving or has moved to a unified theory or approach. Physiologically, human beings are nearly identical to one another. The variations come in part from life experiences and potential genetic predispositional factors, and even with those an individual can be grouped into like categories. In essence, that is the basis for diagnostic criteria from a medical as well as mental disorder perspective

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