What Is Psychology and Definition of Psychology?
Psychology is a discipline under behavioral science that majorly deals with the study of mental functions of individuals and how they socially behave (Gleitman, 2011). In a simple understanding, psychology can be referred to as the study of mind and behavior. Professionals of psychology are known as psychologists, they tend to find out the physiological and biological factors that influences individuals behavior. To better understand psychology, psychologist mostly majors on concepts such as psychological resilience, personality, behavior, attention, emotion, interpersonal relationships and intelligence (Reisberg, 2011). Importance of psychology is that, it can be applied to treat mental illnesses; in addition, psychology can also be applied to solve social problems that involve human behavior. Psychologist also engages in therapeutic activities such as counselling and clinical applications, a good example of a psychologist is Adler with his famous understanding of human nature. Adler used a framework of superiority to describe human nature, he based his reasoning in order of birth, strive for superiority and challenges faced while striving for superiority.
Psychology is an applied science, but we need to ask ourselves how did psychology evolve to be a science? Psychology can be traced back in ancient Greece between 400-500 years BC. Earlier, Psychology was majorly philosophical rather than scientific. Due to the advancement in research and evidence consolidated, psychology was then classified as a science. The empirical approach in psychology refers to gaining knowledge through experience and the knowledge gained was used to develop sciences such as physics and chemistry. Psychology was ignored in 16th century because it took much time for it to be accepted as a science and understanding behaviors and feelings was also not an easy task. A breakthrough was made in the late 1879, when Wilheim Wundit developed the first psychology lab to end the speculations and no evidence based theories to do research about psychology and use science to study human behavior. Major groups who were involved in research to identify whether scientific methods could be applied to study behavior were behaviorists and the cognitive psychologists who adopted lab based approach to study human behavior.
In psychology, we also need to understand the physiological perspective that influences the human behavior. To begin with, behavioral perspective greatly influences human behavior, behaviorists believe that an individual behaves according to the kind of environment he / she interacts with (Butler, 2011) . They also believe that to identify whether learning has occurred, there must be some behavioral changes. Secondly, cognitive perspective focuses on learning to understand how people perceive learning, understand, remember, think and solve their problems. Psychologists believe that, memory structure determines how information is stored, perceived and understood. Another important perspective of psychology is the development perspective. Development perspective mainly tends to find out the progress that has occurred on the learner over a long period of time. Development perspective incorporates both continuous and discontinuous theories. Finally, social cognitive perspective explains that, people develop and learn behaviors by interacting and observing on how others behave (McManus, 2011) . A good example is of a young child whose behaviors will be solemnly determined by the behaviors of the siblings or the parents.
Finally we look at the interaction between genetic potential, environmental influences and personal choices and how they shape human behaviors and traits. Advancement in modern science are rendering the nature vs nurture arguments meaningless and current advancement in neuroscience study tend to identify mechanisms on how genes and environmental factors influence an individual through his / her lifetime. Different behavioral psychologists have come to a conclusion that social, cultural, parental, educational and peer influences determines how the DNA governed traits manifest and develops.
- Gleitman, H., Gross, J. J., & Reisberg, D. (2011). Psychology. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
- Butler, G., & McManus, F. (2011). Psychology. New York, NY: Sterling.