The basic concept of Psychology as a discipline:
Although psychology is a well-established and much studied subject, many people are still confused about the basic concept of psychology.
Psychology is basically the study of the mind and behaviour
The word psychology derives from the two Greek words:
- “Psyche” – meaning Mind, Soul or Spirit, and:
- “logos” – meaning Study or discourse.
- When put together they produce: “Study of the Mind.”
In this respect, Psychology is quite basically the study of the mind, which is observable through human behaviour.
Although mental health issues feature big in this discipline, Psychology primarily seeks to study the human mind in terms of how we think, feel and behave.
The historical origins of Psychology lead to a deeper understanding of the human mind.
The human mind is not observable directly as it is only grey matter, so it is analysed through behaviour. As the human mind is so complex, we study the mind through our thoughts and actions (behaviour).
When did Psychology originate as a subject?
Psychology can be traced back 4 -500 years BC to ancient Greece. At that time, Philosophy was the main ingredient, dominated by philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Which subjects constitute Psychology?
Psychology is also an amalgamation of different subjects. The two main subjects which psychology evolved from are Biology and Philosophy.
There are also many other different disciplines which influence and indeed overlap this subject including: Linguistics, Anthropology, Medicine, Sociology and Artificial Intelligence.
Psychology is divided into various branches. Some of the main branches of Psychology include:
Social, Occupational, Health, Cognitive: both memory and intelligence, developmental, forensic neuropsychology, Clinical, Evolutionary
Scientific Approach to Psychology
In recent times as opposed to ancient Greece period, Psychologists study human behaviour on a scientific level. There is a methodology to this scientific style of study:
- Form a theory – An idea a psychologist has is translated into a theory format.
- Test hypothesis through observation and experiment – An experiment is designed to validate or refute the theory formed.
- Analyse findings with statistical techniques – The results of the experiment either support or refute the original theory. Sometimes refuting the theory is not a failure as new data and findings may come to light as a result of an experiment not gone to expectations.
The very first psychology lab was opened in 1879 in Leipzig by Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920) who was a German psychologist. His methods were based mainly on an introspection type of study.
The idea of a lab certainly brings to mind a scientific approach to the subject matter.
Psychology is a wide and varied subject and can in no way be described in such a short blog post. This is just the tiny part at the top of the iceberg point to merely get you thinking. It only deals with the origins of the meaning of the word Psychology.
Enjoy further reading on this: psychology.about.com