What Is Psychology?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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What is Psychology? Psychology "" the scientific study of the behaviour and experience of how human beings and animals' sense, learn and know.

The word psychology originated from the two Greek words: "psyche"� and "logos"�. The word "psyche"� means "mind, soul or spirit"� and "logos"� means "to study"�.

Historically, psychology has been divided into many sub fields of study. Some of which overlap each other with theories and are interrelated. (A diagram (fig.1) shows this.) Sub fields (also referred to as "˜areas of application') of psychology include: Physiological psychologists study the functioning of the brain and the nervous system, experimental psychologists devise tests and conduct research in order to discover how people learn and remember. Industrial psychologists study the behaviour of people at work and what effect the work environment has upon them. School psychologists help students make career decisions as well as educational decisions. Social psychologists are interested in the ways people influence each other and how they act within a group and clinical psychologists help people who are mentally ill or who have problems in everyday life.

Psychology emerged as a separate discipline in 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt opened the very first psychology laboratory. Wundt was a German psychologist, generally recognised as the founder of scientific psychology as an independent discipline, Wundt promoted what is known as structuralist or content psychology, which emphasised the observations of the conscious mind rather than inference. He carried out widespread research on perception, feeling and apperception. He attempted to investigate the mind through introspection, which is the observation by a person of his or her own mental processes. Wundt claimed that all psychology begins with introspection. Other psychologist disagreed and said that the evidence obtained from introspection was unreliable and subjective. In the early 20th Century, introspection was seriously criticised by behaviourists...



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