What is Psychology?
Psychology & its Relatives
A Brief History of Psychology
Two Worlds of Psychology
Basic vs. Applied
Natural vs. Human
Why do students take
Part of a programme?
Easy electives ?
Fits your time table?
Understand self ?
Write a definition of it . . .
Did you include: biological processes? mental states? environment nutrients? spiritual? sociocultural?
Commonly found in definitions is: the study of behaviour, mind, thinking, feeling, and reactions to stress.
Psychology is related to almost everything that humans do, including these other disciplines...below.
"Psychology is the science of Mental Life, both of its phenomena and their conditions" (James, 1890, p.1)
Psychology and its Neighbours
|Disciplines - related to psychology:||by studying:|
|Sociology - Social Psychology||roles and social forces institutions|
|Anthropology - Cultural psychology||cultural and social traditions|
|Biology - Neuro / Evolutionary Psychology||bio-chemical processes|
|Medicine - Health Psychology||behaviours and attitudes surrounding health|
|Psychiatry - Clinical Psychology||psychological 'disorders' and everyday problems|
|Business - Industrial Organizational||group harmony, morale, human factors|
|Computer Science - Artificial Intelligence||information systems and modeling|
|Law - Forensic Psychology||criminal insanity, competence jurisprudence|
|Literature - Narrative Psychology||personality and expression of human spirit|
Many other fields are also covered by psychology like: Environment, Sports, Communication, Politics, and even Music
Born out of the bridging of philosophy and physiology early "scientific" psychologists attempted to move from "arm-chair" speculation and common sense to systematic study.
Pick your path
Most psychologists say that it began about 130 years ago, but we can still trace roots back 1,000s of years and that is usually only in the "western" traditions arising from the Golden Age of Greece.
Cultural Biases in Psychology -Ethnocentrism
A brief History of Psychology
Historically, psychology arose from
Philosophy which became married to Physiology and gave birth to psychology as a
modern scientific (& professional) discipline.
Plato (427-347 B.C.) - Theory of forms: Universal patterns of thought
-These ideas provide a foundation to
natural science where it searches the universal truths of nature.
Mind-Body Dualism-two worlds of existence:
|Takes up space, is corruptable||not locatable, lives after death|
intentionality & Free Will
John Locke (1643-1704)
Empiricism: a theory of knowledge that it is through the senses that knowledge is acquired and also its method of verification.
-Tabula Rasa: Theory of knowledge (part of empiricism) that we are born like blank slates or empty vessels to be written upon or filled by experience.
-Emphasis on Individualism and Democracy, Liberty
-Simple ideas are built into more
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Rationalism: a theory of knowledge that states that knowledge comes from the correct use of reason, reasoning is also the method of the verification of knowledge.
-He suggested the Categories of
knowledge of experience exist a priori to enable us to have any experience. We
have something like innate ideas, or rather processes and templates that enable
use to know the world. E.g., one, many = totality / Dialectics
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)
Gustav Fechner who proposed the scientific study
the mind and the body.....however he extended this work on the mind and body and added the social (reflective of the bio-psycho-social approach today).
Experimental Psychology Volker (Social) Psychology
1879: First psychological laboratory in Leipzig
Goals are to establish the Laws of psychology through a careful study of consciousness or immediate experience
Experimentelle Selbstbeobachtung: Experimental
self-observation. Observers "are exposed to standard repeatable
situations and are asked to respond in simple quantifiable ways" such
as: reaction times, judgments of size, intensity and duration
Range of topics for psychology using both historical and experimental methods
Sensation and perception
He felt a tension between subject matter and methods, he was not sure of exacted how all of psychology was best to be studied.
Experimental natural science or historical human science?
Völkerpsychologie (1912-21): Psychological anthropology
Historical studies of outer
phenomena which studies:
Language, Religion (& Myth), and Custom: Expressions of the
"common sense" or worldview of a social group .
Volkgeist "Folk mind"
or group mind that is a
synthesis of minds that is of a magnitude greater than the sum of the
numerous individual creative syntheses (minds). Has group Will !
What brought the beginnings of "scientific psychology is the distinction between introspection and casual observation. E.g.,
|Systematic, 'objective'||Systematic, 'subjective'|
Once Psychology begun to become an experimental science a major debate emerged between those who wanted to study psychological processes purely as a scientific understanding, knowledge for knowledge's sake, and those who wanted to apply psychology to everyday psychological and social issues.
This division remains central to the nature of
This reflects the division between:
Natural Science and Human Science
Natural Science seeks general laws that apply to all people and can be used to predict and control behaviour, thoughts, feelings, psyche.
Typically natural science uses induction to try to keep from biases of expectation, but uses deduction to test the conclusions drawn from previous observations.
Human Science seeks to understand the human condition through situated expressions of human experience. These narratives of life stand as examples of what is or can be.
Typically human science seeks to provide
a meaningful case of biography of a life and the socio-historical context in
which that life is lived. Thus it deduces a meaningful account of the
psychosocial essence of human life based upon inductive observation of lives
Wilhelm Dilthey (father of hermeneutics) suggested that both Human and Natural science are valuable where one is qualitative and the other is quantitative in orientation.
Natural Science tends to be oriented towards the abstract and technical control of the world while Human Science tends towards ethical and humane treatment of people and communities.
What do Psychologists do?
A common way to divide psychology is into Schools such as: Voluntarism, Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviourism, Gestalt, Humanism, Developmental, Cognitive, Social, Personality, Cultural, ....
Another is by
Pure Research vs. Applied; Clinical Counselling & Psychoanalysis
What can you learn from
Perhaps you can learn about yourself, your friends, your family, the people and animals around us, but you can also learn how to best learn and memorize material for this course and other courses. You will almost certainly learn about the nature of psychology as an experimental science and how such research is applied to the biological, sensory, intellectual, and behavioural aspects of being human in our times.
How to read the textbook and do well in this course?