Psychology Study Material: Theoretical Perspectives of Psychology

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What is Psychology?

Beginning with the first psychological laboratory, founded in 1879 by German philosopher and physiologist Wilhelm Wundt, modern psychology՚s can be traced in many disciplines and countries. Psychology՚s historical perspectives and current activities lead us to define the field as the science of behaviour and mental processes.

Theoretical Perspectives of Psychology

There are many disciplines that study human nature. Psychology is one. Within psychology, the biological, behavioural, psychoanalytic, cognitive and social- cultural perspectives are complementary. Each has its own purposes, questions, and limits; together they provide a fuller understanding of mind and behaviour.

Why Do We Study Psychology?

Scientific inquiry begins with an attitude of eagerness to sceptically investigate competing ideas, with an open- minded approach. Putting ideas to the test helps us in fully understanding them. The curiosity that drives us to test ideas, and to expose their underlying assumptions, can be experienced in everyday life as critical thinking.

Definition

″ Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes.

Human or Animal

Behaviour is overt, manifest, obvious, and easy to study; the mental processes that help carryout these behaviours are covert, underlying, hidden, and not easy to study. Besides behaviour, what causes these behaviours to occur and the mental processes involved in it is an important area of interest for a psychologist.

Human or Animal
  • Psychologists study animals՚ behaviour too; to better understand and predict human behaviour, the study of animal behaviour becomes essential at times, especially because some researches cannot be carried out with humans due to safety reasons or ethical issues.

Goals of Psychology

Main and important goals of psychology, or in other words of understanding human behaviour and mental processes, are.

  • To understand the nature and mechanisms of behaviour and mental processes
  • To develop an understanding of the relationship between behaviour and mental processes
  • To apply this understanding to real life situations and, on the basis of this understanding, predict for the future
  • To employ the scientific approach for developing this understanding

In short, the main goals of psychology are:

  • Observation,
  • Description,
  • Understanding,
  • Explanation,
  • Prediction, and
  • Control of human behaviour and mental processes.

Scientific Nature of Psychology

Psychology is a Science

  • It employs the scientific method for gathering knowledge and information. It uses scientific procedure that is essential to be adopted in order to carry out psychological research; otherwise the research will not be Considered authentic, reliable, or scientifically valuable.
  • “Scientific method is a systematic and organized series of steps that scientists adopt for exploring any phenomenon in order to obtain accurate and consistent results. These steps involve observation, description, control, and replication” .
  • These are the main components of any science or scientific discipline. The methods of how to gather, process, and analyze information properly and accurately are very important in psychology as well.
  • Remember! Science does not deal with the supernatural
  • A number of people commonly believe, and they did more so in olden times, that the evil spirits, demons, or ghosts are the root cause of mental illness. Therefore, for them, psychology may be the approach that can free man of the supernatural possessions, which is a wrong belief. Psychology does not deal with the supernatural phenomena like any other science; it deals with only those behaviours that are overt can be experienced by our senses, that can be understood in psychological/scientific terms, and that can be dealt with through psychology interventions.

Scope of Psychology

After doing a degree course in psychology one may join a variety of work settings, the most common being:

  • Education/teaching
  • Research
  • Hospitals/clinics
  • Recruiting/screening agencies
  • Specialized professional settings e. g. armed forces, social welfare etc.

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