What is Psychology? – A Detailed Overview

Why does everyone behave in a particular way? Why some of us like ice-cream and others like tea/coffee? How is that some of us love to live as a hippie and others desire for luxurious and comfortable homes? Why some of the people live happily in any kind of circumstance and try to face the difficulties of life and others feel depressed, hopeless and want to end their lives? What is the psychology behind it?

Most people don’t understand the intellectual meanings of life but they just experience those meanings by living it fully. Similarly, many of us are not aware of psychology but it is the power that helps us to live fully. Before understanding this universe and all the creations of God present in it; it is more important to understand inner self first. A better understanding of self, automatically assures the better performance of human beings in searching for their surroundings. Psychology is an exploration of our inner.

Here, the arising question in everyone’s mind is “WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY?”

Psychology is the study of mind and behavior:

Psychology is a discipline that emphasizes the investigation of the human mind and behavior that were initially emerged from philosophy and biology with close connections to other subjects counting medicine, sociology, anthropology, and linguistics.

To answer the question, what is psychology, let’s explore its in-depth meaning. It is a combination of two Greek words PSYCHE meaning “soul, spirit, breath” and LOGIA meaning “study of”. The answers to the question, “What is psychology?” are:

  • “The study of minds and behaviors”
  • According to APA, “Psychology is the study of mind, working of mind and effect of working of mind on human behavior.”

All these definitions highlight psychology as a study of understanding behaviors. Now it is understood that Psychology is the examining of conscious and unconscious experiences along with thoughts, emotions, and feelings.

History of Psychology:

The exploration of the human mind and behavior dates back thousands of years. But the formal science of learning about mind and behaviors is quite young. The origin of psychology can be imprinted back to ancient Greece, 400-500 BC. Psychology had two major approaches in its early days and two different theoretical perspectives existed regarding the working of the human brain.

Structuralism:

It was simply about the breaking down of mental processes into its basic components. This was proposed by Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920), also known as the “Father of Psychology”. He established the first laboratory devoted to psychology. The main emphasis of the structuralism was on controls and objective measurements. Wundt separated psychology from Philosophy and introduced the concept of trained introspection. This was done to understand the running thoughts in a subject’s mind by performing some tasks. But after finding so many variations in the results of researched subjects this concept proved as an unreliable method. Thus, it did not prove fruitful.

Functionalism:

William James (1842-1910) rejected the concept of structuralism by raising the point about the continuous changes in mind that makes past conscious experiences useless. Did he focus on the functioning of the brain that motivates an organism how and when to do something? He emphasized on the consequences and genesis of behavior that influenced contemporary psychology.

Basics of Psychology:

Following concepts form the basis of Psychology:

Psychology & Scientific Methods:

The goal of psychology is to narrate, explain, anticipate and feasibly influence mental behavior that is why it is important to use scientific methods to conduct psychological research. These scientific methods are used to originate questions, collect data and finally reach to the conclusion. These scientific research methods not only use to explain behaviors and their cause but also researches to predict and change human behavior. This scientific research includes the following steps:

  • Observation
  • Raise a question
  • Testing of hypothesis along with collecting data
  • Proper examining of results
  • Draw a conclusion
  • Results publishing

The scientific methodology of psychology has clarified the myth that “psychology is just common sense” and has generated a range of scientific techniques to study the human mind and its behaviors.

Multiple Perspective Of Psychology:

This study of the human mind and its functioning has grown a lot and now contemporary psychology is replaced by some modern perspectives. A perspective is originally an approach that demands certain assumptions about human behavior and attitude;

How do human brains function in any situation? What aspects and features of human behavior are worthy to study? What are the appropriate methods to study?

An approach can have several theories but they must share the same assumptions. Psychology is a combination of various approaches and no one can mark any approach as right or wrong. Although every single approach has its strengths and weaknesses all of these collectively contribute to collecting some new and interesting to understand a little more about human behavior. These approaches/perspectives can be classified into six subgroups:

Behaviorist Approach:

It is a deliberate attempt to be scientific and studies the behavioral changes caused by the direct experience of a person in an environment. It is also known as Stimulus-response clarification and rejects the mental processes during learning anything because of their non-observable nature.

Initially, behaviorism was the main approach of psychology. So, all the behaviors were explained by classical and Operant conditioning. The behaviorist approach believes in laboratory experimental research and completely denies introspection. Thus, providing a limitation when it comes to this perspective.

Psycho-dynamic Approach:

The psycho-dynamic approach of psychology is often related to Sigmund Freud. Psycho-dynamics explains that most of the mental activities are unconscious, and these unconscious activities shape and trim human behaviors. Most of the psychological disorders are the result of childhood experiences and to resolve these issues psychotherapy is the most effective way. According to the psycho-dynamics human mind is like an iceberg, with a very small amount of visible that is observable behavior. Sigmund Freud explains psychology as:

“Psychology is a science of mental life.”

Humanistic Approach:

Humanism or holism is an approach that highlights the study of a complete person. The basic ideology of this perception is the wholeness of human behavior depends upon a person’s self-image and inner feelings. This approach considers a person a truly unique individual. Similarly, the capacity of changing at any point or stage of his/her life is also found in such people. Thus, Humanistic psychology perspective bases on two theories presented by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.

Cognitive Approach:

The main focus of the cognitive approach is on “how the human brain thinks?” and it assumes that human behavior is the reflection of the thoughts in mind. According to this approach, scientific processes can be related to human behavior. Opposite to the genetic factor human thoughts control human behavior and this behavior can be elaborated by a series of responses to external stimuli. The cognitive approach is opposite to humanism because it makes illusions of the human mind working similarly like a computer. This perspective deals with mental consequences such as perception, attention, and memory. This extremely scientific approach of psychology also explains the three stages of memory:

  • Encoding: it is the section where information received and attended.
  • Storage: here the information is absorbed and recognized.
  • Retrieval: at this stage, the complete information is recalled.

Biological Approach:

It is one of the major perspectives of Psychology that involves the study of genetics, brain, immune system and nervous system. By using this approach psychological issues can be tackled by observing physical premises for human behavior. Thus, this whole approach is standing on the idea of Charles Darwin that emphasizes on the role of evolution and genetics over human behavior. The main concern of this perspective is to understand the shaping process of human behavior by biological forces. The biological approach generally analyzes the following factors of human behavior:

  • Change in behavior due to any sort of shock or trauma
  • Influence of genetic factors on such things as happiness, aggression, and sadness.
  • Additionally, link of mental disorders with genetics and brain damage.
  • Moreover, discussion on how people behave in degenerative brain disease
  • Also, Psychology and structure of the human brain and its influence on behavior.

Evolutionary Approach:

Evolutionary psychology deals with the study of mind and behavioral changes influenced by evolution. It is a theoretical approach to explain beneficial mental and psychological traits. According to this perception, the human brain incorporates various practical mechanisms called psychological adaptation. This is outlined by the process of natural selection. Evolutionary psychology is interconnected with cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology and also contributes to artificial intelligence, genetics, behavioral ecology, zoology, archeology, and anthropology. So, the combination of all these fields help in the generation of a better view of the situation.

Psychology is a Step Ahead to Mental Health:

Mental health is indeed the major area of expertise in psychology but it is not the only one. We can observe the fruits of psychology in every field and department. Now psychology is not about recounting childhood memories of a subject with the help of psychological techniques by a psychologist, although the therapy is the most important part of psychology. Now psychology is proving its presence in every field of life including consulting, parenting, teaching and research.

Psychologists work in a variety of domains, which include the following:

Government Offices:

Government agencies seek the help of psychologists and psychiatrists for expert advice related to criminal investigations, assessment of threats, disability frauds, espionage and other issues where the vital interest of an individual or country matters. Mostly the experts do an indirect assessment and provide advice, suggestions, and tricks to solve an issue. Thus, helping resolve the problems.

Schools:

School psychologist helps children in their academic, social and emotional issues while working within the educational system. These psychologists collaborate with students, parents, and teachers to focus on the needs of a child and to promote a learning environment. A school psychologist provides his/her services in the following domains:

  • Development of academic skills with intervention and instructional skills
  • Accountability
  • Decision making
  • Collaboration between family and school
  • Legal, ethical and professional implementations
  • Learning promotions
  • Mental development to generate social skills in children
  • Child development
  • Behavioral management

Hospitals:

Clinical psychology deals with the mental and physical problems of a person and gives its best to answer these issues. In hospitals, clinics and mental health department’s psychology not only resolves the issues regarding brain but it also helps in the recovery of patients who suffered from trauma, accident or a long time sickness. A hospital psychologist also deals with communication between staff, direct patient care, and training of nursing staff.

Colleges and Universities:

Life of college and university students is a stereotype with fix routines, study burdens and fear of grades that makes them exhausted and depressed sometimes. In contrast to these issues confusion of choosing the right career and profession also keeps them puzzled. A psychologist in colleges and universities helps the students to face their fears. Additionally, they prepare them through scientific methods and therapies to take the right decision at the right time. Additionally, moral development, career counseling, how to overcome the fear of exams and grades, are the prior concerns of a college and university psychologists. With the help of certain techniques, people can actually get out of the high fear and other elements associated with it. Thus, concentrating on the grades and better learning.

Corporations:

There are so many issues in the businesses and corporation that require proper attention of psychology to resolve. Every organization and business needs a psychologist to deal with the issues like:

  • Leadership development
  • A positive and progressive working environment
  • Suggest the initiatives for the well-being and health of employs
  • Increase the efficiency of the corporation
  • Designing of publicity tact’s
  • Also, Morale boosting
  • Enhancement of work safety

Psychology is Everywhere:

Psychology is not only an academic subject but it is about life, behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. It is not bounded in classrooms, mental health institutes, and research laboratories but it can be observed in everyday situations. Following are the main aspects of psychology. These aspects highlight the role of psychology in our daily lives.

Encourages Motivation:

It keeps you motivated in every situation, task or challenge. Whether you want to quit bad habits like smoking, drinking, bullying, etc. or you want to lose weight, psychology helps you to achieve all these goals by keeping your interest level high. Therefore, this results in better outcome.

Improves Communication:

Communication is a collective venture of verbal and non-verbal actions. It is important to work equally on non-verbal signals to communicate your message productively and constructively. Psychology helps you to work on your voice tone, posture, body language, eye contact, and body movements. So, that you can convey your point of view more effectively. Also, in a manner that you intend to use in a particular situation.

Enhances the Ability of decision-making:

Decision making is the most important and difficult phase in everyone’s life. The mind gets confused in between two good or two bad options. This is where psychology turns the situation magically. Moreover, Cognitive psychology plays an important role to prepare a person to make wiser choices by providing a wealth of information. Additionally, it suggests a person review the potential benefits and disadvantages of a decision and use “six thinking hats” perception.

Enhances Creativity:

Psychology enhances the abilities of the brain and aids it to increase its creativity and productivity. Psychology suggests you avoid multitasking during working on a dangerous or complicated task to remove every kind of disturbance and complete focus on the given task.

Helps to Make Perfect Economical Plans:

Psychology aims to enhance the well being of mankind in every way. It also assists you to achieve economical goals and wealth. Additionally, psychology deals with behavioral economics and promotes some business strategies. Such as understanding of personal biases, save your money for rainy days, and stop delaying and invest in savings from today.

Improves Memory:

Psychology works naturally to improve your memory by giving some basic tips to sharpen your memory. These tips include eject the destruction, focus on real information. Additionally, give higher consideration to revision. So, it can be easily used for generating better results when it comes to sharper memory.

Helps To Get Good Grades:

Psychology helps students to get better grades in their academic years. It provides findings related to increasing memory. You can apply these tips into your life during trying of learning new information, promotes self –testing and fixing the learned information for a long time in your memory.

Psychology Promotes Intelligence:

Psychology works on emotional intelligence to help you understand better about your feelings and emotions as well as feelings sentiments of others. Moreover, it builds some strategies for you to make you more intelligent emotionally such as keen assessment of emotions and personal reactions, keep a record of the experiences and emotions, and then try to think and observe the situations according to others’ perspectives.

Conclusion:

All of the discussion above is the answer the question, What is psychology? In reality, It is a fascinating tale of human behaviors and mind that stands on the real facts of scientific research and perspectives. It answers all the questions come in any one’s mind related to the human psyche such as:

  • Why do people think?
  • Why act in a way they do?
  • How the external environment affects the behavior of people?
  • Also, Why different people behave in the same situations differently?

It is not only a subject to study but it is a way of life. Psychology is our weapon to fight with social, physical and mental problems, as it not only identifies and points out the reasons and facts related to our daily situations and circumstances but also provides the solutions and methods to settle down and resolve the issues.

So, with all this information and knowledge, do you think psychology is a subject with vast scope? Probably more vast than you actually thought initially. Please share your opinion on the topic in the comments section below so that we gain from the collective knowledge.

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