We live in the era of modern technologies and scientific developments. The science is developed at a very quick pace. The main subject of the modern science is a human being. Despite all modern achievements and inventions, a human being still remains a mystery for the science. In the previous century human behavior was explained as the desire to satisfy or control animal instincts and hungers on the one hand and seeking delight and pleasure on the other hand. These ideas are based on psychoanalytic theories and behaviorism. With the development of psychology many new theories emerged testifying to the fact that human being’s behavior is more complicated than it seemed before. Those new theories gave birth to three basic branches of modern psychology namely humanistic psychology, positive psychology and cognitive movement.
Humanistic psychology began its development in the 1950s. Psychoanalysis and behaviorism gave rise to its emergence. Humanistic approach takes roots from the outstanding philosophical theories belonging to Nietzsche, Sartre, Heidegger and other existentialists. Humanistic psychology is associated with the names of Gordon Allport, Abraham Maslow, Gardner Murphy, Charlotte Buhler and others. Charlotte Buhler defines humanistic psychology as “the scientific study of behavior, experience and intentionality” (Moss, 1999). Humanistic psychology is known as the third force psychology opposing psychoanalysis and behaviorism. It is based on the fact that human behavior is directed by moral and ethical values and intentions. The theorists of humanistic psychology presuppose that every human being consists of deeds and wills influencing his behavior. The basic values of humanistic psychology are the possibility of a human being to keep dignity, self-respect and conscious willingness. The current situation of the development of mental science resembles the conditions giving rise to humanism. Many arguments made by the humanists in previous century are fortified by modern psychologists. Nevertheless, modern mental health culture is based on ideologies opposing to humanism such as biological psychiatry, diagnostics and empirically supported treatments. Modern humanists have much stronger foundation for launch than they had at the mid 20th when humanistic psychology emerged (Moss, 1999).
Positive psychology started its development parallel to humanism. Martin Seligman’s researches gave rise to positive psychology. Starting his experiments on the helplessness of dogs in the 1960s, he was interested in ‘learned helplessness’ and depression. Further on, he devoted his researches to optimism and pessimism. ‘Flow’ and human strengths are the key points of positive psychology. The term ‘flow’ introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi presents human absorption in any activity in such a way that they lose themselves and their sense of time. Those activities creating ‘flow’ make a human being happy. ‘Flow’ helps a human being to develop individually and establish order in their life captured with chaotic and negative thoughts. Positive psychology aims at studying human strengths rather than failures. Positive psychology is considered to be strengths-based in contrast to many illness-focused psychological theories (Snyder & Lopez, 2002).
Humanistic psychology is based on Maslow’s pyramid of needs while positive psychology is associated with Chris Peterson and Martin Seligman’s list of virtues. Humanistic psychology orients at human needs influencing their behavior whether it is bad or good while positive psychology studies human strengths and the ways of their development. Humanistic psychology considers human behavior as it is, but positive psychology makes this behavior better.
The 20th century with the emergence of computer and a new way of thinking is a good soil for the development of new psychological theories that is known as the cognitive movement. This movement is based on behaviorism, humanism and Gestalt psychology. The emergence of the cognitive movement is associated with the names of Alan Turing, Ludwig von Bertalanffy and Norbert Wiener (Boeree, 2000). Cognitive movement is concerned with human thinking and cognitive functions. Cognitive psychologists are interested in such notions as memory, learning and creative thinking. Cognitive psychology is based on two principles: “(1) Human cognition can at least in principle be fully revealed by the scientific method, that is, individual components of mental processes can be identified and understood, and (2) Internal mental processes can be described in terms of rules or algorithms in information processing models. There has been much recent debate on these assumptions” (Lu & Dosher, 2007). Cognitive psychology was the first school studying the way of thinking while humanistic psychology and positive psychology research human behavior.
These three basic psychological schools have influenced the development of modern psychology. The most influential and revolutionary one was cognitive movement as far as it gave birth to the development of the artificial intellect and computer technologies. Cognitive psychology differs from other psychological schools in two ways. Firstly, it rejects Freud’s methods of investigation accepting only scientific approach. Secondly, it believes in the power of internal mental states. Cognitive psychology is the most influential one in the present century. However, humanistic psychology and positive psychology play a very important role too as far as these theories have made scientists research a human behavior from the new point of view. These two psychological schools were the preconditions for the development of the cognitive movement.
Boeree, C. (2000). Psychology: The Cognitive Movement. Web.
Cherry, K. (n.d.). Humanistic Psychology and Positive Psychology. Web.
Lu, Z. & Dosher, B. (2007). Cognitive Psychology. Scholarpedia, 2(8), 2769. Web.
Moss, D. (1999). Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychology: A Historical and Biographical Sourcebook. Westport: Greenwood Press.
Snyder, C. & Lopez, J. (2002). Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.