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The study of the way people think and behave is called psychology. The
field of psychology has a number of sub-disciplines devoted to the study of the
different levels and contexts of human thought and behavior. Social psychology,
for example, deals with human thought and action in a social context, while
physiological psychology is concerned with thought and behavior at the level of
neurology. Another division of psychology, comparative psychology compares the
thought and behavior of humans with that of other species. Abnormal psychology
studies atypical thought and action.
Psychology is an interdisciplinary science. Social psychology, for
example, involves both sociology and anthropology. Abnormal psychology has much
in common with psychiatry, while physiological psychology builds on the
techniques and methods of neurology and physiology.
It is evident that psychological methods are being increasingly used in
daily events. Employment for example, in Europe more companies are subjecting
potential personnel to psychological profile checks and psychological tests
during interviews. Even our social lives are becoming affected. People who are
seeking the right partner are using psychological techniques to establish the
emotional state of their potential partners. As psychology becomes more and more
accessible and understandable to more people, I feel that it will begin to
influence our lifestyles more.
From a personal stand point, this has been a very difficult exercise.
This is a new area for me, so I have been unable to write from a professional or
work experience perspective only from a purely academic view.
\'Psychology\' literally means \'study of the mind\'. Psychology as a
separate discipline is usually dated from 1879 when Wundt opened the first
psychology laboratory, devoted to the analysis of conscious thought into its
basic elements, structuralism. It is understood that \'structuralism\' was
founded by Wilhelm Wundt. What made this \'new\' psychology different from
philosophy was the emphasis on measurement and control. The application of some
of the basic scientific method to the study of the mental process.
For psychology to become a natural science, it must confine itself to
what is observable and measurable by more than one person, namely behaviour,
Behaviourism was established. This movement was formally initiated by John
Broadus Watson in a famous paper, "Psychology as the Behaviourist Views It"
published in 1913.
At the time when behaviourism was becoming prominent in America a group
of German psychologists began to discredit the principles of structuralism and
behaviourism. They argued that it was not possible to break down psychological
processes. This theory, demonstrated that our perceptions are highly organised
and have immediate, vivid qualities that cannot be explained in terms of piecing
together basic elements. The psychologists had the opinion that our perceptions
are inherently configurational, meaning that the elements making up the
perception could not be separated from the way in which those elements were
combined as a whole. This now popular theory is known as \'Gestalt\' taken from
the German word for "configuration"
The expression of the third force movement known as "humanistic
psychology" is an eclectic grouping of American psychologists who advocated
various interpretations of human personality. The term humanistic reflects the
focus on defining a human psychology with emphases on individual existence,
focusing on the role of free choice and our ability to make rational decisions
on how we live.
During the 1950s and 1960s, many psychologists began to look to the work
of computer scientists in trying to understand the more complex behaviour which,
they felt, learning theory or conditioning had oversimplified. This behaviour
was referred to by early psychologists as \'mind\' or mental processes, which has
become cognition or the cognitive process. The cognitive psychologist sees the
person as an information processor and cognitive psychology , along with
artificial intelligence, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology and neuroscience
now form part of cognitive science, which emerged in the late 1970s.
How can we divide up the work that psychologists do? There is much more
under the heading of \'psychology\' than the theories and principles of famous
and leading psychologists of our time. There are psychologists in all areas,
specialising in a number of fields.
Physiological psychology is concerned with the neurological and
physiological events that underlie human thought and action. Some physiological
psychologists are concerned with mapping the functions of various parts of the
brain. Others study both the transmission of electrical information in the brain
and the neurotransmitters that facilitate or inhibit such transmissions.
Physiological psychologists study the effects of drugs on human behavior.
Conditioning and learning are concerned with how experience modifies
thought and behavior. Initially devoted to the investigation of principles of
learning among all species, the field now includes specific types of learning
for different species. Other areas
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Behavioural sciences, Applied psychology, Psychological theories, Clinical psychology, Philosophy of psychology, Basic science, Psychology, Cognitive psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, Social psychology, Structuralism, Industrial and organizational psychology
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