What Is Psychology?
Psychology is often discussed in meetings, gatherings, forums, groups or wherever, but do we exactly understand what is psychology? So let’s try to understand what exactly psychology is?
Fictional movies and stories have created an impression that psychologists are some kind of super sleuths who would solve the deepest mysteries of crime or they are people who possess the power of foretelling the happening of crime. But the fact remains far away from these misconceptions.
Let’s Come To The Point – What Is Psychology?
Psychology is an academic and applied field which studies the human mind and behavior. It also studies other aspects of human mind such as perception, cognition and emotion. Study of psychology tries to understand and explain how we think, act and feel. It’s been largely believed that psychology is a science which primarily deals with the diagnosis of the mental health problems and their treatment, but psychology is much more than this when it comes to its actual application. In today’s practical life psychology is widely applied to deal with number of issues which affect our health and other factors such as motivation, self esteem, performance enhancement, productivity etc.
History Of Psychology:
Psychology is an offshoot of biology and philosophy. These two subjects were discussed even in the times of Greek thinkers Socrates and Aristotle. The word ‘psychology’ came from the Greek word ‘psyche’ which means ‘life’ or ‘breath’. It has been there since 1800’s, during this period people like William James, Wilhelm Wundt and Sigmund Freud formally separated psychology from the main disciplines of biology and philosophy.
Psychology As Science:
Psychology emerged as a separate and independent field of science when Wilhelm Wundt opened his first experimental psychology lab in Germany in 1879. Wundt’s research was focused in analyzing the structures of the mind. He relied heavily on the analysis of the feelings and sensation using the process of introspection. Wundt believed through proper training an individual can accurately know the mental processes which accompanied, sensations, feelings and thoughts.
Where Does Psychology Stand Today?
With the advancement of time, today psychologists are using advanced tool to understand and predict human behavior. There are two major areas of psychology – applied psychology and academic psychology. Applied psychology deals with the research to solve day to day problems, while academic psychology deals in basic research to widen the theoretical knowledge base.
Applied psychology helps solve day to day issues using various psychological principles. Psychologists work as therapists to help people overcome emotional disorders, mental disorders and behavioral disorders. Uses of applied psychology include industrial organizational psychology, forensic psychology and ergonomics.
Methods Of Psychology Research:
Psychology has evolved with time. Today psychologists are using advanced scientific methods to study the human behavior. Now researchers use diverse scientific techniques such as correlational studies, experiments, longitudinal research etc to study, explain and predict human behavior.
What Are The Types Of Psychology?
Psychology has come up as a diverse field. A number of sub fields and research areas have emerged within the main subject of psychology.
Following are some of the specialized areas of research within psychology –
Types Of Psychology:
(1) Clinical Psychology:
Clinical psychology is considered as the biggest potential area for employment within psychology. It deals with the diagnosis, treatment and assessment of mental disorders.
(2) Abnormal Psychology:
The field of abnormal psychology deals with the study of psychopathology and abnormal behavior. This field of psychology is engaged in the research and treatment of various mental disorders and is related to clinical psychology and psychotherapy.
(3) Cognitive Psychology:
This branch of psychology deals with the study of internal mental processes such as memory, learning, language and problem solving (It basically studies how people perceive, think, communicate, learn and remember). Cognitive psychology is related to neuroscience, linguistics and philosophy. Practical research in this area may include how to increase the accuracy in decision making, how to improve memory and how to create educational programs to improve learning.
(4) Forensic Psychology:
This area of psychology deals in criminal investigation and law. Forensic psychology is used as a science within the criminal justice system and civil courts. It involves understanding the criminal law so as to interact with the lawyers, judges and other professionals of the legal system. Forensic psychology has the ability to present and testify the psychological findings in the legal language before the court and prove it to the professionals in a simple way.
Neuropsychology is the study of function and structure of brain with relation to psychological processes and behavior. It involves the study of recording electrical activity from cells and group of cells in higher primates. For a systematic assessment procedure in a patient suspected of brain injury, a neuropsychological evaluation is done to determine any possible behavioral problems in the patient. Once the diagnosis is done patients are treated with a treatment called individualized cognitive remediation protocol which helps the patient overcome cognitive deficits.
(6) Social Psychology:
Social psychology is a study of social influences on human behavior. It uses scientific tools to understand how behavior, feeling and thoughts of people are influenced by implied, imagined or actual presence of other people. Various factors such as social interaction, social perception, leadership, group behavior, aggression, prejudice, non verbal behavior and conformity are analyzed to understand social behavior.
(7) Health Psychology:
Health psychology is also known as medical psychology. This branch of psychology studies how social context, biology and behavior influence health and illness. Like a doctor treats the patient, a health psychologist would look into other factors of the patient such as background, socioeconomic status, and behavior of the patient which may have an impact on the disease. The health psychologist helps in improving the patient’s overall health by analyzing the disease in context to biopsychosocial factors. Biopsychosocial means biological, psychological and social aspects of the disease.
(8) Developmental Psychology:
Developmental psychology is the study of systematic psychological developments in the life span of a person. It is also known as human development. Earlier it was only focused to infants and children but now it covers young and adults too. Study of developmental psychology covers psychological factors such as moral understanding, problem solving, motor skills, emotions, and personality and identity formations of a person in his/her life span.
Developmental psychology analyses and compares mental structures against learning through experience. Like if we take an example of a baby who is born with the inborn skill of language acquisition device (LAD) which naturally enables him/her to acquire language. In this case a developmental psychologist would try to analyze how LAD works in comparison to the baby’s learning through experience and how the two are related.
(9) Occupational Psychology:
Occupational psychology is also known as industrial organizational psychology. Occupational psychology is often referred to as work psychology, personnel psychology or talent assessment. It is the study of behavior and performance of people at work and training and how organizations function in context to these factors. The organizational psychologist’s work is to enhance the satisfaction of the workforce and increase the effectiveness.
According to British Psychological Society, occupational psychology is concerned about the performance of the people at work and training, how people behave at work and how the organization functions. It aims at the job satisfaction of the workforce and to increase the effectiveness of people at work.
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