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Introduction to Psychology

Introduction to Psychology

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Published by meenalairan
for those who are interested in psychology..
for those who are interested in psychology..

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Published by: meenalairan on May 02, 2010
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What Is Psychology?One of the most common questions asked by students new to the study of psychology is"What is psychology?" Misperceptions created by popular media as well as the diversecareers paths of those holding psychology degrees have contributed this confusion.Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies the human mind andbehavior. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion, andbehavior. Applications of psychology include mental health treatment, performanceenhancement, self-help, ergonomics, and many other areas affecting health and daily life.
Answer:Early Psychology
Psychologyevolved out of both philosophy and biology. Such discussions of the twosubjects date as far back as the early Greek thinkers such as Aristotle and Socrates. Theword psychology is derived from the Greek word
, meaning 'soul' or 'mind.'
A Separate Science
 The field and study of psychology was truly born when Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology lab in Leipzig, Germany. Wundt's research utilized a school of thought knownas structuralism, which involved describing the structures that compose the mind. Thisperspective relied heavily on the analysis of sensations and feelings through the use of introspection, a highly subjective process. Wundt believed that properly trained individualswould be able to accurately identify the mental processes that accompanied feelings,sensations, and thoughts.
Schools of Thought
 Throughout psychology's history, a number of differentschools of thoughthave thoughthave formed to explain human thought and behavior. These schools of thought often riseto dominance for a period of time. While these schools of thought are sometimes perceivedas competing forces, each perspective has contributed to our understanding of psychology. The following are some of the major schools of thought in psychology.
Psychology Today
 Today, psychologists prefer to use more objective scientific methods to understand,explain, and predict human behavior. Psychological studies are highly structured,beginning with a hypothesis that is then empirically tested. Psychology has two majorareas of focus: academic psychology and applied psychology. Academic psychologyfocuses on the study of different sub-topics within psychology including personalitypsychology, social psychology, and developmental psychology. These psychologists conductbasic research that seeks to expand our theoretical knowledge, while other researchers conductapplied research that seeks to solve everyday problems. Applied psychology focuses on the use of different psychological principles tosolve real world problems. Examples of applied areas of psychology includeforensicpsychology, ergonomics, andindustrial-organizational psychology. Many other psychologists work as therapists, helping people overcome mental, behavioral, andemotional disorders.
Psychology Research Methods
As psychology moved away from its philosophical roots, psychologists began to employmore and more scientific methods to study human behavior. Today, researchers employ avariety of scientific methods, includingexperiments, correlational studies, longitudinal studies, and others to test, explain, and predict behavior.
Areas of Psychology
Psychology is a broad and diverse field. A number of different subfields and specialty areashave emerged. The following are some of the major areas of research and applicationwithin psychology:
Abnormal Psychology
is the study of abnormal behavior and psychopathology. This specialty area is focused on research and treatment of a variety of mentaldisorders and is linked topsychotherapyand clinical psychology. Mental health professional typically utilize the Diagnosistic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-IV)to diagnose mental disorders.
Biological Psychology
, also known asbiopsychology, studies how biologicalprocesses influence the mind and behavior. This area is closely linked to neuroscienceand utilizes tools such as MRI and PET scans to look at brain injury or brainabnormalities.
Clinical Psychologyis focused on the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders.
Cognitive Psychologyis the study of human thought processes and cognitions.Cognitive psychologists study topics such as attention, memory, perception, decision-making, problem solving, and language acquisition.
Comparative Psychologyis the branch of psychology concerned with the study of animal behavior. The study of animal behavior can lead to a deeper and broaderunderstanding of human psychology.
Developmental Psychologyis the branch of psychology that looks at human growthand development over the lifespan. Theories often focus on the development of cognitive abilities, morality, social functioning, identity, and other life areas.
Forensic Psychologyis an applied field focused on using psychological research andprinciples in the legal and criminal justice system.
Industrial-Organizational Psychologyis the area of psychology that usespsychological research to enhance work performance, select employee, improveproduct design, and enhance usability.
Personality Psychologylooks at the various elements that make up individualpersonalities. Well-known personality theories includeFreud’s structural model of personalityand the"Big Five" theory of personality.
School Psychologyis the branch of psychology that works within the educationalsystem to help children with emotional, social, and academic issues.
Social Psychologyis a discipline that uses scientific methods to study socialinfluence, social perception, and social interaction. Social psychology studies diversesubjects including group behavior, social perception, leadership, nonverbal behavior,conformity, aggression, and prejudice.While the psychology of today reflects the discipline’s rich and varied history, the origins of psychology differ significantly from contemporary conceptions of the field. In order to gaina full understanding of psychology, you need to spend some time exploring its history andorigins. How did psychology originate? When did it begin? Who were the people responsiblefor establishing psychology as a separate science?
Why Study Psychology History?
Contemporary psychology is interested in an enormous range of topics, looking a humanbehavior and mental process from the neural level to the cultural level. Psychologists studyhuman issues that begin before birth and continue until death. By understanding thehistory of psychology, you can gain a better understanding of how these topics are studiedand what we have learned thus far.
Questions in Psychology
From its earliest beginnings, psychology has been faced with a number of differentquestions. The initial question of how to define psychology helped establish it as a scienceseparate from physiology and philosophy. Additional questions that psychologists havefaced throughout history include:
What topics and issues should psychology be concerned with?
What research methods should be used to study psychology?
Should psychologists use research to influence public policy, education, and otheraspects of human behavior?
Is psychology really a science?
Should psychology focus on observable behaviors, or on internal mental processes?
The Beginnings of Psychology: Philosophy and Physiology
While psychology did not emerge as a separate discipline until the late 1800s, its earliesthistory can be traced back to the time of the early Greeks. During the 17th-century, theFrench philosopher Rene Descartes introduced the idea of dualism, which asserted that themind and body were two separate entities that interact to form the human experience.Many other issues still debated by psychologists today, such as the relative contributions of nature vs. nurture, are rooted in these early philosophical traditions.So what makes psychology different from philosophy? While early philosophers relied onmethods such as observation and logic, today’s psychologists utilize scientificmethodologies to study and draw conclusions about human thought and behavior.Physiology also contributed to psychology’s eventual emergence as a scientific discipline.Early physiology research on brain and behavior had a dramatic impact on psychology,ultimately contributing to the application of scientific methodologies to the study of humanthought and behavior.
Psychology Emerges as a Separate Discipline
During the mid-1800s, a German physiologist named Wilhelm Wundt was using scientific research methods to investigate reaction times. His book published in 1874,
Principles of Physiological Psychology 
, outlined many of the major connections between the science of physiology and the study of human thought and behavior. He later opened the first world’sfirst psychology lab in 1879 at the University of Leipzig. This event is generally consideredthe official start of psychology as a separate and distinct scientific discipline.

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