Major Psychological Movements

Major Psychological Movements


Psychology is very important in human lives as it enables us to understand how we function. By studying and applying psychology humans can understand each other, have a good relationship and solve various problems that they encounter. Fully Understanding psychology, therefore, becomes paramount to human life. There is three main psychological movements’ viewpoint that is the HTE (humanistic, transpersonal and existential psychology), behaviorism and psychoanalysis. These psychological movements’ were developed to explain human behavior and experience and most importantly to inform the various psychological intentions and practices. In this paper, the complete historical contents of these three movements will be analyzed and also a comprehensive rationale detailing the significance of the movements when it comes to an understanding human experiences and behavior. Also, the breakdown of every psychological movement, the theorist who created the movements and the major tenets of the movements will be highlighted. Additionally, the paper will give an evaluation of the theories that led to the development of these movements and also a synthesis of the movement will be provided. Finally, the paper will provide the next steps when it comes to the growth of the psychological approaches intended for understanding human experiences and behavior.

General historical context of the three major movements

One of the most important psychological movement is psychoanalysis. The theory of psychoanalysis was notably developed by Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud developed this theory back in the year 1923 as he tried to describe the constructs or paradigms of the mind that include superego, id, and ego (Criswell, 2003). In developing these constructs, Sigmund noted that human behaviors are influenced by both unconscious and conscious thoughts and emotions. He believed that human behaviors and experiences are significantly characterized by the childhood experiences that an individual had and that the unconscious mind that is responsible for such actions or experiences characterize the psychoanalysis theory development. Additionally, Sigmund did an additional study on the integration of dreams which enabled him to conclude that the human being unconscious mind plays a significant role in shaping behavior.

The second psychological movement is behaviorism. Historically, behaviorism can be traced back to the works of Skinner, Watson, and Pavlov. The first recorded work on behaviorism was done by Watson who researched wrote an article in 1913 explaining how he observed humans form a behaviorist perspective. By advancing the previous work done by Pavlov, Watson did a behavior analysis on his dog which made him develop the classical conditioning approach. He found out that the various external factors significantly influence internal apparatus thereby resulting in behavior. Later, Skinner expanded the theory of behaviorism by developing operant conditioning that looked at this theory in a different perspective that is the influence of punishment and reinforcement on behavior. Another significant study on behavior was done in the 1960s by Albert Bandura who suggested that behavior is usually learned. His theory brought a new perspective to the behaviorism theory that is the social learning perspective.

The third major psychological movements are the Humanistic, Transpersonal and Existential psychology. This concept was developed at different times by different individuals, but it can be traced many years back when Carl Rogers was giving a speech. The famous speech of the “new concepts in psychotherapy” (Frosh, 2017). In this new concept, it highlighted the need for an all-inclusive view of human experiences and behavior. The main purpose of developing this perspective was to address and highlight the limitations of Behaviorism and psychoanalysis perspective. Also, this perspective aimed at giving a comprehensive analysis of human behaviors and experiences (Roth, 2016).

Rationale for each major psychological movements

Behaviorism was identified to help understand the important role the environment plays in influencing the behavior in humans (Ioannou, 2016). In human life, behaviors are usually learned and develop as a result of humans’ interaction with the surroundings aiding to understand why individuals develop unique behaviors and habits depending on the environment or surroundings they were brought up in. On the other hand, psychoanalysis was recognized as being important when it comes to human experiences and behaviors as it highlighted the effect of insensible and mindful mind on human actions (Moore, 2013). This perspective facilitated to understand why certain human conducts are unknown or abrupt even to the person who does them, and also it helped in fully understanding the power of the mind on behavior. When it comes to the humanistic, transpersonal and existential perspective, it was meant to identify the study of the whole person and how their spiritual factors and experiences affect their behaviors. This perspective brought a complete view when it comes to explaining and understanding behavior in humans.

Analysis of psychodynamic theory

The primary tenets of the psychodynamic theory are based majorly on three levels of conscious: preconscious, conscious and unconscious. Preconscious is said to be the knowledge or memories that notifies the conscious. Consciousness, on the other hand, is defined as the state of awareness and the capacity of an individual to comprehend thoughts at any given time. Unconscious level recognizes desires, impulses or thoughts that a person is not aware of (Roth, 2016). Additionally, according to this theory, the mind is separated into three different groups, they are the id, superego, and ego which all play a part in influencing the rational, moral, emotional and irrational part of the mind. The tension that exists among the superego, id, and ego dictates how psychic conflicts and personality will be developed.

An additional tent of the psychodynamic theory is its characteristic conviction that the unconscious level of the brain seepages into the conscious part via psychomotor symptoms, tongue slip or even through dreams (Larsson, 2006).Sigmund Freud is the major theorist of psychoanalysis who majorly did his psychology analysis on the different patients enabling him to recognize the relationship that exists between human behavior and psychology. Carl Jung, Alfred Adler, Anna Freud, and Eric Erickson were the other important theorists of psychoanalysis majorly evaluating how it influences personality and conscious mind. Analyzing the psychoanalysis brought about groundbreaking thoughts, for example, the psychological development theory and the Neo-Feudalism that have contributed significantly to the discipline of psychology especially understanding personality. For example, the psychological development theory developed by Erickson illustrates the inner conflicts that individuals experience from the moment they are born until they die and how this affects personality growth (Roth, 2016).

Behaviorism analysis

When the necessity to understand the non-viewable human brain or mind was overshadowed by the desire to know the external behaviors of people, behaviorism was developed. Behaviorism is a psychological approach that stresses on the objective ways of examining the human behavior (Phelps, 2015). According to this theory, behavior can be both identified and explained shortly of referring to the conceptual process. Behaviorism state that the external incentives for instance punishment and rewards can and do influence behavior change in humans. Behaviorism primary tents were well explained by Bandura Albert and they pertain that all the human behavior comes from interaction with the environment (Phelps, 2015) This primary tent recognizes that human behaviors are significantly determined by the surrounding where an individual lives in whereby that person will learn and retain behaviors from integrating and observing the particular behaviors in their lives. One more primary tenet of this theory is that behavior is strengthened through classical or operant conditioning as stipulated in the learning theory. Additional tent of the behavioral theory is that when people are born, they have a “tabula rasa” (blank slate) whereby all human behaviors are incorporated into the surroundings.

The behaviorism tenets and underpinnings recognized the factors that shape behavior in human, for example, the environment which is said to influence human behavior whereby if the environment changes the human behavior can also change. These tenets recognize that behavior is learned and hence state the importance shaping behaviors of certain groups in the society, for example, the youth. Bandura, Pavlov, and Watson are the main theorists of behaviorism (Moore, 2013). This theorist left a legacy when it comes to behaviorism since they work still being used today. For example, Pavlov work created a way for developing classic and operating conditioning. On the other hand, Watson advanced the work done by Pavlov by translating it to ordinary life while Skinner developed what is commonly known as operant habituation describing how behaviors are reinforced and learned in individuals.


Humanistic, transpersonal and existential psychology analysis

The existential and humanist methodologies take in the conviction that people have the capability for choice and self-awareness. The existential approach recognizes the significance of identifying philosophical sense to influence authentic and responsible behaviors. The major tent for existence approach is that a person can use experiences of life and meaning of the world to determine he/her decision. On the other hand, Humanist emphasizes on self-actualization and growth instead of assumptions or attitudes and is majorly concerned about conscious perspective instead of unconscious viewpoint to influence human behavior. The transpersonal approach recognizes the understanding of self-identity and association of the psyche when it comes to actions influencing (Lyon, 2013). All these perspective aids in providing a complete approach when it comes to an understanding human beings. The primary tents of all these approaches are that they assist in seeing a person from all viewpoints that are from the spiritual level to unconscious mind which at times influences people’s thoughts and actions (Winston, 2016).

Additionally, there are other tenets such as phonological approach when studying individuals. Here, the approach state that the individual capable of making sound decisions is founded on his/her conscious instead of unconscious emotions and thoughts. The tenets of this approach are important because they give different viewpoints when it comes to understanding individuals since they give a detailed of both spiritual views and subjective views describing human behavior and thoughts. Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, Roberto Assagioli and Carl Rogers are the major theorist of this approach. Both historical and cultural context does influence this theory significantly. For example, in the 1970s, the transpersonal approach was established to respond to the increased spiritual drive while humanist – existential psychology was developed to take care of the limitations that the previous psychology concepts had to fully understand the human behavior. These approaches aimed at providing depth, relevance, and scope in the psychology field.

Synthesis of the major psychology movements

Behaviorism, psychoanalysis Humanistic, transpersonal and existential psychology were significant when it comes to an understanding and studying human beings behaviors. For instance, psychoanalysis recognizes the influence that unconscious and conscious thoughts had on the behavior of humans stating that human behavior is always influenced by the unconscious and conscious levels (Hardy, 2016). Hence concluding that sometimes behavior cannot be controlled while other times it can be controlled.

The psychoanalytic theory incorporates with humanistic psychology to define people’s behavior. Psychoanalysis concentrates on the unconscious and conscious in persuading conduct an observation that even the humanistic psychology also recognizes (Frosh, 2017). The conscious mind integrates and analyses information that enlightens behavior which is a concept that is outlined in both psychoanalytic and humanistic perspective.

Psychoanalysis is also closely linked to existential psychology in its methodology of elucidating human behavior. Existential psychology emphasizes on the conviction that internal conflicts play a significant part in the existence of an individual. On the other hand, psychoanalysis describes the conflicts that exist in a human mind that are id, ego, and superego (Ioannou, 2016). As a result of these conflicts, the irrational, moral and rations actions develop. These two theories integrate to conclude that internal mind/psychological conflict bring about the emergence of human behavior. Transpersonal psychology and psychoanalysis are also important in explaining human behavior. The transpersonal psychology shows how the spiritual realities influence behavior in an individual highlighting the role of unconscious level as stipulated in the psychoanalysis theory (Hardy, 2016).

Assessment of the application of theories

The humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology are based on the Maslow Abraham. The theory of human behavior developed by Maslow recognized the subjective experiences of free will and inner drive that directed individuals near self-actualization. Skinner and Pavlov were vital to the development of behaviorism which is classical and operant conditioning theories (Criswell, 2003). These theories contributed to the knowledge of how human behavior is affected by the environment. They described that humans do not just learn behaviors, but behaviors can be reinforced by the environment. On the other hand, the transpersonal theory is founded on different stages of development of humans, for example, the Jungian perspective and integral theory. Application of such theories together with the one developed by Maslow has improved mental treatment conditions and assisted professionals in various ways the most important being that they have helped them to understand the human behavior (Boucouvalas, 2016) properly. The mental health professional also by use of these theories can gain a comprehensive understanding of the unconscious and conscious level and more importantly how they join in to influence mental health conditions and behavior, and in the process, they can develop effective healthcare interventions.

A statement of the next steps

The expansion of synthesized psychological viewpoints is what comes next after development of the various psychological methodologies that are meant to improve awareness of human behavior. The behaviorism, psychoanalysis and HTE psychology give an efficient and an alternate way of understanding human behavior/experience and psychology (Moore, 2013). These theories have been proven to be effective in improving the treatment of various mental conditions and hence the incorporation into a single strong psychological perspective would be effective when it comes to an understanding holistic human behaviors. When the theories become incorporated, it can lead to the development of a perspective that takes care of human being behaviors as a product of unconscious and conscious thoughts and also environmental and spiritual impact on those particular behaviors.


In summary, the three major psychological movements are very important for human experiences and behavior. Behaviorism recognizes how behavior can be influenced by the environment while psychoanalysis emphasizes on the influence of unconscious and conscious mind when it comes to behavior. Humanistic, transpersonal and existential (HTE) psychology recognizes the ability of people for self-actualization and awareness. Allred Adler, Erick Erickson, Carl Jung, Freud, Skinner, and Watson were the major theorist of these theories. These major movements can be applied to helping professional and mental health professional.


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