Every leadership development program, coaching practice, or organizational effectiveness initiative, follows a psychological approach, so understanding them, and where assessments fall within them, is vital to success.
A summary of the 5 perspectives are below:
Psychodynamic Approach. Sigmund Freud was one of the original psychodynamic psychologists, who believed that sex drove most of our impulses. Psychologists in this school of thought believe that unconscious drives and experiences from early childhood are at the root of your behaviors and that discovering these hidden and often repressed memories are the key to determining current day behavior.
Biological Approach. Psychologists who take the biological approach look at how your nervous system, hormones and genetic makeup affect your behavior. Biological psychologists seek relationships between your mental states, your brain, and hormones, and how those relate to actions. For the biological approach, you are the sum of all of your parts. Your actions and thoughts are a function of your brain chemistry and physiological needs, meaning that all of your actions are based off physical needs and internal characteristics.
Behavioral Approach. Psychologists of the behavioral approach believe that external environmental stimuli influence your behavior and that individuals can be led to act in a certain way if the environment promoted it. Behavioral psychologists believe that you learn through a system of reinforcements and punishment, and that free will does not exist, since our behavior is a consequence of environment and conditioning.
Cognitive Approach. Cognitive psychologists believe that your behavior is determined by your thoughts and emotions. How you act is based upon internal processes and cognitive psychology combines behavioral outcomes with self-insight about negative or self-limiting thoughts. Essentially, your thoughts create self-fulfilling prophecies about outcomes and behavior. A quote by Henry Ford that illustrates this approach is “whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right”.