competing explanations of behavior. For example, one recent popular theory has been that something in
childhood vaccines causes autism. Over the last 10 years, scientists have conducted many studies of the
vaccine-autism explanation and have found no support for it. As we discuss in the research ethics section
, the original study on which the argument had been based turned out to be fraudulent,
consisting of false data.
Although collecting observations and conducting research help us choose one viewpoint over another,
sometimes more than one perspective can be correct. Consider the psychological disorder of
schizophrenia. For years people attributed the development of this disorder mostly to upbringing, arguing
for a pure “nurture” explanation. Then biological explanations, such as an imbalance of particular
neurotransmitters, became fashionable. The most recent research suggests that schizophrenia emerges
from an interaction of biological and environmental influences—in a very real sense, elements of both
explanations are correct (Moffitt, Caspi, & Rutter, 2005). The more open we are to diverse perspectives,
the better able we will be to explain the whole and often surprising picture of human behavior.
We believe strongly that modern psychological science tells us that we must combine multiple
perspectives in order to come to a complete understanding of human thought and behavior. One of the
overarching themes of multiple perspectives is the proverbial nature-nurture question. Psychological
science shows that almost every fundamental aspect of human behavior—whether it is brain
development, learning, intelligence, perception, personality, social behavior, or psychological disorders—
develops from a complex interplay of biological and environmental forces, of nature and nurture.
Research can also lead us to surprising findings, sometimes challenging our most basic assumptions. For
example, a young neuroscientist named Helen Mayberg parted paths with most of her colleagues and did
not focus on drug therapies to treat depression. She focused instead directly on the brain. In so doing she
stumbled on a surprising and counterintuitive discovery: A particular part of the brain is overactive in
depressed people (Mayberg, 1997, 2003). She went on to pioneer treatment for depression by stimulating
the part of the brain that was overactive.
Area 25 is a region in the front of the brain; it is overly active in people with depression.
A therapy known as “deep brain stimulation” can calm this area down and lead to a
sudden decrease in depressed symptoms for some people
Challenging Assumptions in the Treatment of Severe Depression
There is a psychology behind the science of psychology, and there are personal stories for every
discovery (Feist, 2006b). Seeing the dynamic and often personal side of psychological science leads to a