Saturday, January 28, 2012

Introduction to Psychology

What is Psychology?


Psychology is defined as the science of behavior and mental processes. (Lahey, 2008)
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes in context. (Halonen and Santrock, 1999)


The term behavior refers to all of a person’s overt actions that others can directly observe.


The term mental processes refer to the private thoughts, emotions, feelings, and motives that others cannot directly observe.



Psychology is considered to be a science because psychologists attempt to understand people through careful, controlled observation (rigorous scientific method of observation).




Psyche and Science = Psychology


Aristotle used the term psyche to refer to the essence of life. This term is translated from Greek to mean “mind,” but it is closely linked in meaning to the word breath. Aristotle believed that psyche escaped in the last dying breath that was exhaled.


What are goals of the science of psychology?


They are to describe, predict, understand, and influence behavior and mental processes of people.



The first topic studied by psychologists was private conscious experience.


Everything that you are aware of right now is part of your conscious experience. The first psychologists wanted to understand the basic elements of consciousness and how they worked together to create the experience of being alive.


While most of the founders of psychology were focusing on human consciousness, some believed that we humans are completely unaware of important parts of our mental processes – the so called unconscious mind.


Sigmund Freud believed conscious mental processes were of trivial importance compared with the workings of the unconscious mind.



Basic Areas of Modern Psychology


Biological psychology

Sensation and Perception

Learning and Memory


Developmental psychology

Motivation and emotion


Social psychology

Sociocultural psychology


Applied Areas of Modern Psychology


Clinical psychology

Counseling psychology

Industrial – organizational psychology

Educational and school psychology

Health psychology


A psychiatrist has completed medical school and has obtained the M.D. degree and has completed residency training in psychiatry.

A psychologist has been trained in psychology but did not attend medical school.

Psychology is a much broader field than psychiatry and contains many different specialty areas.


Some things  we know about human behavior


Human beings are biological creatures.

Every person is different, yet much the same.

People can understood fully only in the context of their culture, ethnic identity, and gender identity.

Human lives are a continuous process of change.

Behavior is motivated.

Behavior has multiple causes.

Humans are social animals

People play an active part in creating their experiences

Behavior can be adaptive or maladaptive

Perspectives in Psychology

The Behavioral perspective

The Psychoanalytic perspective

The Humanistic perspective

The Neurobiological perspective

The Cognitive perspective

The Evolutionary perspective

The Sociocultural perspective

Web References






Benjamin Lahey, Psychology: An Introduction, McGraw Hill, Present Edition: 10th, 2008

Jane S. Halonen and John W. Santrock, Psychology: Contexts & Applications, 3rd Edition, 1999.


Psychology - Related Knols

Psychology Article Series (KVSSNRao) - Directory
Psychology: An Introduction by Benjamin Lahey - Book Information and Review
Kagan and Segal's Psychology: An Introduction (with InfoTrac®) - Book Information and Review


Knol Directory - Main Categories




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