Episode #5 of the course “Major Schools of Thought in Psychology”
Not surprisingly, biological psychology marries the two sciences of biology and psychology. Like other schools of thought, this is a perspective to the study of psychology rather than a science in and of itself. It is tied into the work of Charles Darwin and his observation of animals.
There are three methods that biological psychologists use to help learn about the human mind and human behavior. The first is the comparative method. This method implies that certain species of animals can be studied and compared, but it also works on humans—that is, studying various individuals and then comparing their responses can help psychologists understand more about human behavior. Second is physiology, which is the study of how the nervous system and hormone functions affect human behavior. Physiology also considers how the brain works and how altering these functions or the structure of the brain can affect behavior. Finally, biological psychologists consider how genetics or inheritance affects behavior or intelligence. Each of these methods is still used in studying human behavior and thinking today.
This school of thought focused on increasing the reliability and validity of psychological research by using these biologically-focused methods. Lab experiments were extremely common, and they were often geared toward finding correlations between two comparable subjects. Because of this, researchers held twin studies frequently. The work in this area helped develop comparative psychology as a field, and its basic methods were highly applicable in other areas of science.
Critics of the approach were concerned that too much reliance on humanism (development based on evolution as a human) meant that free will was virtually non-existent. The school does not recognize cognitive processes and simply focuses on “natural” adaptations. There was also some concern that this type of thought made very complex ideas (including physical systems) very simplistic, so much so that some had concerns about whether results generated by the method could be trusted.
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