Humanistic, Cognitive, and Psychobiology

Discuss the changes in values, principles, and subject matter that psychobiology brought to the field of psychology, and how these changes affected psychologists’ ways of understanding human behavior


Psychobiology combined the principles of behaviorism (which was more inclined towards biology) and psychoanalysis (which was purely a psychological school of thought) and developed the idea that psychological phenomena have roots in biological causes. Psychobiology considers the influence of evolutionary, developmental, ecological, and other factors on human cognition, behavior, and society. For instance, psychobiologists study how genetic factors influence cognition, behavior, one’s personality, as well as the development of language and society in general.

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Subject matter

Psychobiology deals with biological and physiological factors and attempts to determine their influence on human cognition, mood, behavior, etc. (or the mutual influence of physiological and psychological factors). For example, Kemeny (2003) explores the effects of a stressful life on the nervous system and the influence of physiological responses on dealing with stress. Stein (2009) researches the neurological basis for resilience, “the phenomenon of remaining psychologically healthy despite exposure to significant stressors” (p. 41).

The previous schools of psychological thought (such as structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, psychoanalysis, etc.) would not have studied the influence between these two types of factors. Psychobiological research showed that there is significant interdependence between these kinds of factors.

Ways of asking questions and conducting research

Psychobiologists ask about the influence of neural or physiological factors on behavior. In their studies, usually one of the variables is biological, whereas another variable is psychological; it was not practiced in the preceding schools of thought. The school showed that it is possible to determine and measure the influence between psychological and biological factors, and affect one type of factors by changing some factors of the other type.


Having demonstrated the interdependence between physiological and psychological factors, the school clearly showed that both biology and mind are important for a person’s well-being and that denying one type of factors (like some behaviorists, roughly speaking, denied the importance of internal states of mind) is scientifically incorrect.

Relationship between the body and the mind

Overall topic

The general topic we wish to research is the relationship between the body and the mind.

What is already known?

The body is responsible for producing the mind and consciousness. Neurons in the brain and their connections receive, process, and store information, and the information is essential for the process of thinking. Hormones created in the body influence the person’s mood, direct their behavior, etc. On the other hand, our thoughts and interpretation of events around us can change our body’s reactions; for instance, psychic trauma can cause somatic symptoms (Deshauer, 2010). Our body and our mind are a single, united thing; however, there seems to be a great qualitative difference between these two phenomena.

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Questions to be asked about the topic

The most fundamental question to be asked about the topic is, perhaps, the following: how exactly does the brain produce the mind and the consciousness (Searle, 2007)? Still, it is more realistic to attempt to answer questions about the extent to which the physiological factors and the psychological factors (e.g., the physical state and the interpretation of achieved information) influence a person’s reactions. It is also possible to ask about the influence of an individual’s physiology related to their biological sex on their mind; or about the influence of a person’s genome on their mental capabilities.

Principles and values associated with the topic

Different psychological schools used different approaches and principles to study this topic. For instance, some behaviorists believed the process of thinking to be solely a reaction to external stimuli, and used this principle to research the mind; psychoanalysts were convinced that the mind and mental experiences had a significant influence on the body and paid much attention to the mind, but perhaps not the body (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014).

The values related to the topic are connected not only to psychology but also to several other disciplines. For instance, a deeper understanding of the mind-body relationship might help to solve many issues related to medicine and psychiatry (Kendler, 2001), artificial intelligence, or even religious studies.


Deshauer, Dorian. (2010). A well-grounded approach to the mind-body problem. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 182(13), E673-E674. Web.

Hergenhahn, B. R., & Henley, T. B. (2014). An introduction to the history of psychology (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kemeny, M. E. (2003). The psychobiology of stress. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(4), 124-129. Web.

Kendler, K. S. (2001). A psychiatric dialogue on the mind-body problem. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 158(7), 989-1000. Web.

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Searle, J. R. (2007). Freedom and neurobiology: Reflections on free will, language, and political power. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Stein, D. J. (2009). The psychobiology of resilience. CNS Spectrums, 14(2, Suppl. 3), 41-47.

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