Essay: Psychology Is a Multifaceted Field of Study

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Psychology is a multifaceted field of study with a difficult if not impossible task, assigned it. The challenge of creating a record of the inner workings of the human mind is substantial, as the mind is often unknown even to the possessor of its thoughts. With this said it must be made clear that the next best recordable measurement is therefore the behavior, as all human behavior is by its very nature driven in some way by the mind.

Psychology as a discipline, has therefore since its inception been attempting to draw correlations between thought and action and then form a clear set of behaviors that are repeatable and presumably guided by thoughts. Psychologists have a list of methods which can be used to guide the study of the human mind, that can be divided into two basic methods, qualitative in which the information gained has value but is not easily judged in statistics, such as recorded interview with open ended questions and quantitative in which repetition of certain behaviors, by a single or multiple individuals are judged and the results are tallied to form statistical data. "Graphic depictions and narrative descriptions present research as a holistic endeavor; that is, both qualitative and quantitative paradigms coexist in a unified real world of inquiry."

Newman & Benz, 1998, p. xii)

Quantitative method is much preferred for certain types of inquiry, and historically in general, as it has been a means by which psychology can prove its value in a concrete and manageable manner. Within the sciences there are many who would have in the past called psychology a soft science, and yet for almost two centuries it has been progressing slowly toward understanding of the most complex and important species on the planet. Without such inquiry little would be known about say the latter effects of child rearing techniques or behavioral response to disease and illness in oneself and/or a loved one. As these phenomena are fundamental to human existence it is wise to understand them as fully as possible. In this manner it is thought that the quantitative methods of inquiry are the best possible forms of research results as they are definable and concrete.

The highest level of scientific description is represented by precise statements of relationships between two or more variables under specified conditions. The most unequivocal and most universally understood of such statements are those set down as mathematical functions. (Lewis, 1960, p. 1)

With such inquiry and its repeatable results that can be tabulated and formulated into visible and clear research data a researcher and anyone who wishes to understand the work can more easily discern the answer to any one question.

Qualitative research on the other hand, a formulary that uses narrative rather than variable information as its base lends itself well to inquiry into the complex world of the human mind, and its subsequent behavior.

A scientific' methods of investigation have great difficulty coping with the dynamic and complex social world of the human services. Qualitative research has an important role to play in understanding this world and in complementing other forms of knowledge. Qualitative research methods have descended from several disciplines and belong to twenty or more diverse traditions (Miller & Crabtree, 1992). Despite such diversity the core qualitative methods can be described as follows:

In-depth interviewing of individuals and small groups.

Systematic observation of behaviour.

Analysis of documentary data. (Darlington & Scott, 2002, pp. 1-2)

Qualitative methods are divers and often answer questions unanswerable through basic statistical and therefore quantitative method.

Despite the variable reliance upon these two forms of inquiry there are still many unanswerable questions and complications associated with the inquiry into human behavior, as has been said before the correlation between thought and action, as it is internal is not always an easy one to make. Human subjects pose seemingly countless issues of difficulty in that they can and often are manipulated by the process of study. Regardless of attempts to discern the facts within a research base, outside of the possible difficulties skewed data exists almost as often as not. The data collection, be it of either qualitative or quantitative nature is often clouded by problems associated with the individual subjects desire to please or even her or his desire to skew data. Self, report is an oft used technique that can be inherently flawed but is likely to be the only way in which a researcher may define the causation of a behavior and its correlation to a thought.

Within the situation of human subject research many issues can be difficult to overcome, such as removing all or most causation factors, outside the one or few wishing to be analyzed from the process. Not to mention that the study itself can potentially harm the subject. This is especially true in the case of children or any other compromised individuals.

Hoagwood, Jensen, & Fisher, 1996, p. iii) as a researcher the most basic understanding is to not allow the research method a chance to become one of the factors of the outcome, like a journalist who uses the cardinal rule of not becoming the news but reporting it, the scientist must make all efforts to not effect the outcome of research by artificially skewing the results with the method. Sometimes this is done to ensure that the person will not be adversely effected by research and sometimes to ensure that the research is valid, bit often it is done for both reasons and the existence of human subjects committees in every reputable institution of human inquiry is proof positive of this. Many ethical dilemmas arise as a result of past experience with false positive results and destructive human inquiry, and many solutions to modern psychological problems are also available because of such research but mostly because of its restrictions.

The works of Carl Rogers are often though of as the point at which psychology began to be described and/or applied for human use in ways that did not alter the basic manner in which individuals perceived their own needs. Psychology or counseling psychology (also known as psychotherapy) began to be centered on the client as apposed to centered upon the preconception of the researcher or the theories that came before him or her.

In 1942 Carl R. Rogers published Counseling and Psychotherapy, a 'nondirective' approach almost diametrically opposed to the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the Minnesota Point-of-View." (Blocher, 2000, p. 71)

Rogers has had an almost incalculable impact upon the field of psychology as his determinations are regarded as the basis for many ideas that drive it. Without such conceptions the dynamic approach of client driven psychology would not have been furthered and individuals may never have felt the kind of personal control they needed to redirect their behavior toward positive rather than negative outcomes.

The focus of Rogerian therapy, also known as client-centered therapy, is an actualizing tendency that is present in every human being. Actualizing tendency refers to the inclination of individuals to achieve their potentials, capacities, and talents. This actualization develops in a positive and constructive manner only if a climate of acceptance, respect, and trust is established. According to Rogerian theory, individuals have within themselves the necessary resources for personal growth and are motivated to develop their full potential (Rice & Greenberg, 1991; Rogers, 1951). (Poyrazli, 2003)

Roger's created with his productive work a rift in the practice of psychology and counseling that emphasis the ethical importance of psychological practice, to first do no harm and second allow the client to drive his or her treatment in the direction, which he or she believes he or she will be best served. Ethical regard for the individual allows the researcher to create person friendly techniques rather than regard the individual as a sick patient in need of intervention. Without such basic revelation the issues of deception, informed consent, and the overall protection of individuals from harm may have been much longer in coming. Experimentation in an institution based area had previously been a challenge to the ethical needs of the individual who was hospitalized and much experimentation was done to the harm of the patient rather than for the sake of his or her rehabilitation and reestablishment into the culture of their society.

Standards of practice for psychology have now become apart of the everyday language of western civilization and cultural as well as individual issues can be regarded with the full breadth of the filed, as diverse as it is and as inclusive as it attempts to be. The field has expanded to such a degree that the helping professions and the standards they uphold have a great deal to offer both the academic and the practical base of human understanding. Research methods have to some degree began to be proven as effective through their use, with regard to the protection and healing of the individual rather than the complete understanding of the source of all behavior. Qualitative and quantitative methods have been… [END OF PREVIEW]

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