What Is the Biological Perspective?

Biological perspective
Science Photo Library - ZEPHYR / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

The biological perspective is a way of looking at psychological topics by studying the physical basis for animal and human behavior. It is one of the major perspectives in psychology and involves such things as studying the brain, immune system, nervous system, and genetics.

The Biological Perspective on Psychology

This field of psychology is often referred to as biopsychology or physiological psychology.

This area of psychology has grown tremendously in recent years and is linked to other areas of science including biology, neurology, and genetics.

The study of physiology and biological processes has played a significant role in psychology since its earliest beginnings. It was Charles Darwin, who first introduced the idea that evolution and genetics play a role in human behavior. Natural selection influences whether certain behavior patterns are passed down to future generations. Behaviors that aid in survival are more likely to be passed down while those that prove dangerous are less liable to be inherited.

The biological perspective is essentially a way of looking at human problems and actions. Consider an issue like aggression, for example. Someone using the psychoanalytic perspective might view aggression as the result of childhood experiences and unconscious urges. Another person might take a behavioral perspective and consider how the behavior was shaped by association, reinforcement, and punishment.

The biological viewpoint, on the other hand, would involve looking at the biological roots that lie behind aggressive behaviors. Someone who takes the biological perspective might consider how certain types of brain damage might lead to aggressive actions. Or they might consider genetic factors that can contribute to such displays of behavior.

What Sort of Things Are Biological Psychologists Interested In?

Biopsychologists study many of the same things that other psychologists do, but they are interested in looking at how biological forces shape human behaviors. Some topics that a psychologist might explore using this perspective include:

  • Analyzing how trauma to the brain influences behaviors
  • Investigating how degenerative brain diseases impact how people act
  • Exploring how genetic factors influence such things as aggression
  • Studying how genetics and brain damage are linked to mental disorders

This perspective has grown considerably in recent years as the technology used to study the brain, and nervous system has grown increasingly advanced. Today, scientists use tools such as PET and MRI scans to look at how drugs, disease and brain damage impact behavior and cognitive functioning.

One of the strengths of using the biological perspective to analyze psychological problems is that the approach is usually very scientific. Researchers utilize rigorous empirical methods, and their results are often reliable and practical. Biological research has helped yield useful treatments for a variety of psychological disorders.

The weakness of this approach is that it often fails to account for other influences on behavior.

Things such as emotions, social pressures, environmental factors, childhood experiences, and cultural variables can also play a role in the formation of psychological problems. For that reason, it is important to remember that the biological approach is just one of the many different perspectives in psychology. By utilizing a variety of ways of looking a problem, researchers can come up with different solutions that can have helpful real-world applications.

Continue Reading