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Nature of Psychology

The term psychology comes from two Greek

words, psyche, meaning mind or soul, and logos,
referring to study of a subject. So, literally, it is
said that psychology is the study of mind
(Wilhelm Wundt,1879).

Wundt established at first psychological lab in1879 at

Liepzig university in Germany. Thats why, 1879 is
the Psychologys date of birth. His aim was to study
the building block of the mind. But behavioral
psychologists claimed that it is not possible to
conduct any study regarding human mind or soul. We
cannot observe the individuals mind or soul.

Thats why, J B Watson (1913) mentioned that

psychology is the science of behavior. He explained
we can only observe the individuals behavior that
can be measured, recorded and observed.
According to Morgan et al., (1989) Psychology is
the science of human and animal behavior.
Crider et al., (1984) mention, Psychology can be
defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental

According to Roediger et al.; (1984), Psychology may

be defined as the systematic study of behavior and
mental life.
In 2009, Feldman defined Psychology as the scientific
study of behavior and mental processes.
In the light of the above definitions it can be said that
psychology is a science that describes human
behavior as well as their mental processes

Now we should know the key terms elaborately that

have been found in the above definitions. These are
given below:
Science: Psychology is a science. We can observe the
animals behavior scientifically. To know the human
behavior scientifically psychologists apply some
scientific methods like experimental, observational,
clinical, case study etc.

Behaviour: According to Crider et al.; (1983),

behavior is any activity that can be observed,
recorded and measured.
Types of Behaviour
Overt behavior: The behavior which can be observed
from the external environmental is called overt
behavior. For example, walking, talking, movement
Covert Behaviour: The behavior which cannot be
observed from the external environmental is called
overt behavior. For example, thinking, feeling,
emotions etc.

Molar behavior: A meaningful absolute behavior is called

molar behavior that can help us to explain the human
behavior as a unit.
Molecular: Sometimes to explain the individuals behavior
we divide molar behavior into various parts. Each part of
the behavior is called molecular behavior.
Voluntary behavior: The behavior which is controlled by the
person consciously is called voluntary behavior. For
example, walking, talking, movement etc.
Involuntary behavior: The behavior which is not controlled
by the person consciously is called voluntary behavior. For
example, emotions, feeling, thinking etc.

Mental process: Mental process like perception, motivation,

emotion, thinking, memory, intelligence etc. Mental processes
influence our behavior that can also be measured, recorded
and observed.
Perception is the process by an organism becomes aware of
the environment.
Motivation may be defined as a desire, needs, and interests
that arouse or activate an organism and direct it towards a
specific goal.
An emotion is a complex state involving subjective,
physiological and expressive components ( Crider et al.; 1983).

Learning: Learning may be defined as any relatively

permanent change in behavior that occurs as a result
of practice or experience.
Intelligence: Intelligence is the capacity to act
purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal
effectively with the environment.
Personality: Personality refers to qualities within a
person, characteristics of a persons behavior, or
both. Allport (1937) mentioned both inner qualities
and behavior, but he emphasized the inner qualities.
Methods used in psychology

The following scientific methods are used in psychology to

investigate the human bwhaviour:
1. Experimental method: The experiment is research
method in which the investigator manipulates a variable
under carefully controlled conditions and observes
whether any change occur in a second variable as result.
Variable: A variable is an event or condition which can
have different values. Ideally it is an event or condition
which can be measured and which varies quantitatively.
Variable is divided into three types:

(i) Independent variable: An independent variable is a

condition or event that an experimenter varies in order
to see its impact on another variable.
(ii) Dependent variable: The dependent variable is the
variable that is thought to be affected by manipulation
of the independent variable.
(iii) Extraneous variable: Extraneous variable is any
variable other than independent that seems likely to
influence the dependent variable in a specific study.

Control group: In an experiment, control group does not

receive any special treatment.
Experimental group: In an experiment, experimental
group receives any special treatment.
2. Naturalistic Observational Method: In naturalistic
observation, the investigator simply observes some
naturally occurring behaviour and does not make a
change in the situation. For example, a researcher
investigating helping behaviour might observe the kind of
help given to victims in a high crime area of a city. The
important point to remember about naturalistic observa-

tion is that researcher is passive and simply records what

3. Survey method: Survey method is a research method in
which a large number of persons answer questions about
their attitudes or behaviour. In this method researchers
ask the respondents to complete a questionnaire related
to current issue like election, violence, present education
system in Bangladesh, etc.
4. Case study method: It is an in depth, intensive
investigation of an individual or small group of people.

5. Statistical Method: This is used to analyze the obtained

data that have been collected by any one method in the
above methods.
The Subfields of Psychology

Behavioral genetics: It studies the inheritance of traits

related to behavior.
Behavioral neuroscience: It examines the biological
basis of behavior.
Clinical psychology: It deals with the study, diagnosis,
and treatment of psychological disorders.
Clinical neuropsychology: It unites the areas of
biopsychology and clinical psychology focusing on the
relationship between biological factors and psychological
The Subfields of Psychology

Cognitive psychology: It focuses on the study of higher

order mental processes.
Counseling psychology: It focuses primarily on
educational, social, and career adjustment problems.
Cross-cultural psychology: It investigates the
similarities and differences in psychological functioning
in and across various cultures and ethnic groups.
Developmental psychology: It examines how people
grow and change from the moment of conception through
The Subfields of Psychology

Educational psychology: It is concerned with teaching

and learning processes, such as the relationship between
motivation and school performance.
Environmental psychology: It considers the relationship
between people and their physical environment.
Evolutionary psychology: It considers how behaviour is
influenced by our genetic inheritance from our ancestors.
Experimental psychology: It studies the process of
sensing, perceiving, learning, and thinking about the
The Subfields of Psychology

Forensic psychology: It focuses on legal issues, such as

determining the accuracy of witness memories.
Health psychology: It explores the relationship between
psychological factors and physical disease.
Industrial/organizational psychology: It is concerned with
the psychology of workplace.
Personality psychology: It focuses on the consistency in
peoples behaviour overtime and the traits that differentiate
one person from another.
Program evaluation: It focuses on assessing large scale
programs, such as the Head Start preschool program, to
determine whether they are effective in meeting their goals.
The Subfields of Psychology

Psychology of women: It focuses on issues such as

discrimination against women and the causes of violence
against women.
School psychology: It is devoted to counseling children in
elementary and secondary schools who have academic
and emotional problems.
Social psychology: It is the study of how peoples
thoughts, feelings, and actions are affected by others.
Sport psychology: It applies psychology to athletic
activity and exercise.