Psychology: Introduction to Psychology: Study of Experience and Mental Processes

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In the western world, the formal beginning of psychology as an independent discipline goes back to 1879 when Wilhelm Wundt established the first experimental laboratory at the University of Leipzig, in Germany. Since then the growth of psychology has covered a long journey. Today it is one of the very popular subjects among social sciences. It studies all the shades of experiences, mental processes and behaviours. A comprehensive analysis of all these aspects provides a scientific understanding of human nature. In the following sections we will try to understand all the components which collectively define psychology.

Study of Experience

Psychologists study a variety of human experiences which are mainly personal or private in nature. They may range from experiences of dream, conscious experiences at different stages of life and experiences when the consciousness is altered through meditation or use of psychedelic drugs.

Study of Mental Processes

These mental processes include perception, learning, remembering and thinking. These are internal mental activities which are not directly observed but inferred from the behavioural activities of the person.

Study of Behaviour

The behaviours are either observed directly through naked eyes or are measured through instruments. They are generally exhibited verbally or nonverbally (e.g. facial expression) when an individual reacts to a stimulus in a given situation.

Scope of Psychology

The study of human beings starts with the functioning of biological systems, especially the nervous system. Under central nervous system psychology studies, the functions of various parts of brain which regulate our feelings, emotions and thinking. Within autonomic nervous system the role of hormones and neurotransmitters in determining our behaviour is important. In addition, psychology studies as to how a given sociocultural environment interacts with innate biological, intellectual and social attributes of the child and facilitates healthy development of the child.

Basic Psychological Processes

Basic Psychological Processes

Basic Psychological Processes

  • Sensation: Refers to awareness about stimuli which we encounter in various modalities, vision, touch taste etc.

  • Attention: Attention refers to selective focus on a particular stimulus among many stimuli available to us.

  • Perception: In the case of perception we process information and make out the meaning of the stimuli available to us.

  • Learning: The acquired knowledge and skills further bring a relative change in our behaviour and facilitate our adjustment in varied settings

  • Memory: Memory also helps us to easily retrieve the stored information when it is required for use.

  • Thinking: In case of thinking we use our stored knowledge to solve various tasks. We logically establish the relationships among various objects in our mind and take rational decision for a given problem.

Fields of Psychology

Abnormal Psychology

This branch of psychology tries to describe, assess, predict and control those categories of behaviours which are considered as unusual and non-normative.

Cognitive Psychology

Deals with acquisition, storage, transformation and application of information the individual uses to understand and interpret events happening around him/her.

Clinical and Counselling Psychology

Clinical psychology is primarily concerned with diagnosis and treatment of various psychological disorders. A clinical psychologist is trained in psychotherapeutic techniques which are used to treat people suffering from psychological disorders.

Educational Psychology

This field of psychology is mainly concerned with academic performance. It studies the role of various factors which influence learning processes in classroom setting.

Environmental Psychology

It deals with the study of interaction between physical environment and human behaviour. It studies the impact of noise, heat, humidity, pollution and crowding on human performance.

Health Psychology

This field focuses on the impact of various psychological factors (e.g. stress) on the onset progress and treatment of illness. It also deals with various life style diseases such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Organizational Psychology

This branch is concerned with application of psychological principles and models to study the selection and performance in organizational settings.

Developmental Psychology

This study of various physical and psychological factors which influence the systematic changes which the individual experiences across the different stages of life.

Emerging Fields

This fields mentioned above a number of new areas have emerged. Some of these fields are sports psychology, military psychology, aviation psychology, forensic psychology, peace psychology.

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