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The Scope of Psychology

Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Includes the application of the science to human problems

Psychology as a science: It is systematized knowledge that is gathered by carefully observing and measuring events.  Conduct experiments (repeated) and collect data in quantitative measurements.

Psychology applied to real-life

Historical Origins of Psychology

Ancient GreeksWhat is consciousness? Are people inherently rational?

Nature-Nurture DebateWhether human capabilities are inborn or acquired through experience?

Beginning of Scientific psychology

In late 19th Century, William Wundt set up the first laboratory and used Introspection method. Introspection refers to observing and recording the nature of ones own perception, thoughts and feelings. Reactions to Introspection: Birth of early school of Psychology
Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviorism, Gestalt Psychology and Psychoanalysis

Structuralism and Functionalism


Leading proponent- E. B. Titchner Analysis of mental structures- units that make up the mind units of sensation, image and emotion Purely analytical in nature William James- Analyzing the elements of consciousness was less important than understanding its fluid, personal nature.



John Dewey, Harvey Carr at the University of Chicago What mind and behaviour do How mind works to enable an organism to adapt to and function in its environment


By 1920, Structuralism and Functionalism were replaced by Behaviorism, Gestalt Psychology & Psychoanalysis. J.B Watson-Founder replaced the mind and restricted to the study of behaviour Watsons argument- All behavior is a result of conditioning and the environment shapes behavior by reinforcing specific habits. Denied the existence of inborn or innate behavioural tendencies. Held that no specific differences between human and animal behaviour Behaviorists discussed psychological phenomenon in terms of stimulus and responses, giving rise to the term stimulus-response (S-R) psychology.


Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt- German word meaning form or configuration Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, Wolfgang Kohler- Gestalt Psychologists primary interest was perception they believed that perceptual experiences depend on the patterns formed by stimulus and on the organization of experience. Whole pattern of sensory activity and the relationships and organizations within this pattern. The whole is different from the sum of its parts because of the relationships between the parts.

A theory of personality and method of psychotherapy originated by Sigmund Freud. Concept of unconsciousness, thoughts, attitudes, impulses etc that we are unaware of. Repressed Unconscious wishes and desires expressed in Dreams, slips of tongue & physical mannerism. Method of Free Association

Perspectives within Psychology

Biological Perspective

Cognitive Perspective

Behavioral Perspective

Psychoanalytical Perspective

Subjectivist Perspective

Biological Perspective: Seeks to specify neurological processes that underlie behavior and mental processes.

Behavioral Perspective: Focus on observable stimuli and regards nearly all behavior as a result of conditioning & responses.

Cognitive Perspective: Use the analogy between mind and computer, not based on introspection but it assumes that  Only by studying mental processes can we fully understand what organism do.  Study mental processes in an objective fashion by focusing on objective behavior.

Psychoanalytic Perspective:
Behavior stems from unconscious processes, meanings, beliefs, fears & desires that a person is unaware of, but that nonetheless influences behavior.

The Developmental Perspective:

Concerned with characteristic changes in people as they grow.

The Humanistic Perspective: Emphasizes ones own sense of self. Subjectivist Perspective:
Each individual has their own definition of the situation, which is expected to vary according to their culture, personal history & current motivational states.

Relationship between Biological and Psychological Perspective:

Biological- Reductionism, involve reducing psychological notions to biological ones, Which is not always accepted.

Concept Review Table

Biological Perspective
An orientation toward understanding the neurobiological processes that underlie behavior and mental processes. An orientation toward understanding observable behavior in terms of conditioning and reinforcement. An orientation toward understanding mental processes such as perceiving, remembering, reasoning etc and their relationship to behavior. An orientation toward understanding behavior in terms of unconscious motives stemming from sexual and aggressive impulses. mental processes in terms of the subjective realities people actively construct.

Behavioral Perspective Cognitive Perspective

Psychoanalytic Perspective

Subjectivist Perspective An orientation toward understanding behavior and

Major Subfields of Psychology

Biological Psychology- relationship between biological process and behavior Experimental Psychology- conduct research from a behaviorist or cognitive perspective and use experimental methods to study how people react to sensory stimuli and perceive the world. Developmental Psychology- Human development factors that shape behavior from birth to old age. Socio & Personality- How people perceive & interpret their social world Personality Psychology- study the thoughts, emotions & behaviors that define an individualistic personal style of interacting with the world.

Clinical & Counseling Psychology- Apply psychological principles to the diagnosis & treatment of emotional & behavioral problems. Counseling- Often deal with less serious problems.

School Psychology- Work with children to evaluate learning & Emotional problems. Educational Psychology- Specialization in learning and teaching. Organizational and Engineering Psychology- Selecting people who are most suitable for a particular jobs.


How Psychological research is done?


Generating Hypothesis Experiments  Variable Independent Variable Dependent Variable


Experimental and Control Group Random Assignments- each participants have an equal probability of being placed in any group. Measurement


Correlation-Tests, Correlation and Causation Observation- Direct Observation Survey Method Case Histories