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What Is The Meaning Of Psychology

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Overview Of Psychology As A Discipline

What is Psychology?

People often mean to say personality, thoughts, behavior, thinking, issues, motives, needs, etc. when they talk about psychology. And sometimes, vice-versa. As you youve seen the scope of psychology is huge and it is now related to many allied fields.

Id like to point out the following key aspects of psychology: It is a scientific investigation. That means, there are experiments, there are numbers, there is data, there is sampling, there is a rigorous use of psychological tools, description, prediction, logical criticism, systematic observation, and beyond all, it is evidence-based.

Psychology looks at all kinds of people and social groups, animals included. It is the study of the mind and behavior everything included.

Psychologists, like others, live a life, some drink, have sex, have fights, have mental health issues, are sometimes better at dealing with a lot of hard things, sometimes really screw-up, etc. And, they take a variety of career paths.

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S Measuring Inner Experience

Descriptive experience sampling : Developed by psychologist Russel Hurlburt. This is an idiographic method that is used to help examine inner experiences. This method relies on an introspective technique that allows an individual’s inner experiences and characteristics to be described and measured. A beep notifies the subject to record their experience at that exact moment and 24 hours later an interview is given based on all the experiences recorded. DES has been used in subjects that have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression. It has also been crucial to studying the inner experiences of those who have been diagnosed with common psychiatric diseases.

On The Founder: Martin Seligman

is a researcher with a broad range of experience in psychology.

If you had never heard of the positive psychology movement until now, you still might have heard his name at some point. Seligmans research in the 1960s and 70s laid the foundation for the well-known psychological theory of learned helplessness.

This theory, which has been backed by decades of research, explains how humans and animals can learn to become helpless and feel they have lost control over what happens to them.

Seligman connected this phenomenon with depression, noting that many people suffering from depression feel helpless as well. His work on the subject provided inspiration, ideas, and evidence to back up many treatments for depressive symptoms, as well as strategies for preventing depression.

While this is impressive enough on its own, Seligman knew that he had more to offer the psychology community and the world at largein particular, more work on the positive, the uplifting, and the inspiring. After making a name for himself with learned helplessness, he turned his attention to other traits, characteristics, and perspectives that could be learned.

He found what he was looking for in resilience and learned optimism, findings that became the groundwork for his widely administered resilience programs for children and members of the military, among others.

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Assumption : There Is A True Value That We Are Trying To Approximate When We Measure Humans On Some Dimension

What is it about human behavior we are trying to eliminate by averaging? In our own field of cognitive psychology it would seem we assume that in each head there is a mechanism that is common to all/most people, but which is obscured by our noisy measures and/or our noisy heads. That is, in our experiments, we expose a group of people to the same conditions. Everyone is assumed to respond similarly to these conditions because their cognitive mechanisms are similar. Unfortunately the data we collect from these people are not identical, and we assume this is because our measurements are not perfect and that there are a myriad of tiny and random effects that conspire to create noise in the data. Still, if we test a sufficiently large sample size, averaging should enable us to observe the characteristics of each cognitive mechanism unobscured by the noise.

The main question that occurs to us when we consider this scenario is why do we assume that everyone has the same cognitive mechanism? Just as we would not readily accept that each persons height is some deviation from an ideal height, it is odd that we would accept that each persons brain works in exactly the same manner. Certainly this is the assumption that our research methods in cognitive psychology rest upon, and yet there does not appear to be any attempt to justify it2.

Beginning Of Experimental Psychology


Gustav Fechner began conducting psychophysics research in Leipzig in the 1830s. He articulated the principle that human perception of a stimulus varies logarithmically according to its intensity. The principle became known as the WeberFechner law. Fechner’s 1860 Elements of Psychophysics challenged Kant’s negative view with regard to conducting quantitative research on the mind. Fechner’s achievement was to show that “mental processes could not only be given numerical magnitudes, but also that these could be measured by experimental methods.” In Heidelberg, Hermann von Helmholtz conducted parallel research on sensory perception, and trained physiologist Wilhelm Wundt. Wundt, in turn, came to Leipzig University, where he established the psychological laboratory that brought experimental psychology to the world. Wundt focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components, motivated in part by an analogy to recent advances in chemistry, and its successful investigation of the elements and structure of materials.Paul Flechsig and Emil Kraepelin soon created another influential laboratory at Leipzig, a psychology-related lab, that focused more on experimental psychiatry.

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Are We Becoming More Comfortable With Ambiguity And Potentiality

It seems that increasingly often you hear the phrase, It is what it is. I was taking the phrase to mean, Its not this and its not that its something more subtle that I dont have a name for, and Im ok with that. In other words, I took it to be an indication that the speaker is letting the thing exist in all its rich uniqueness without having to categorize it or analyse it.

The increased use of it is what it is seemed to be a sign that people are increasingly comfortable with states of potentiality, which are states that could collapse to different actual states depending on the context. As a simple example, in one situation you might interpret a bat as a toy and in another situation, you might interpret a bat as a weapon. There may be no objective answer to the question of whether a bat is a toy or a weapon its in a state of potentiality that depends on the context. This may seem like a simple phenomenon but it has profound implications for how people think and how they conceive of the world they live in. It enables them to continually re-conceptualize things in new and creative ways. For example, if someone puts a pylon on their head you might see the pylon as an instance of the concept hat. A society that goes around saying it is what it is might seem to be a society that accepts and even relishes a world in which pylons can be hats, a world ripe with possibilities.

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Other Types Of Studies

Surveys are used in psychology for the purpose of measuring attitudes and traits, monitoring changes in mood, and checking the validity of experimental manipulations . Psychologists have commonly used paper-and-pencil surveys. However, surveys are also conducted over the phone or through e-mail. Web-based surveys are increasingly used to conveniently reach many subjects.

Exploratory data analysis refers to a variety of practices that researchers use to reduce a great many variables to a small number overarching factors. In Peirce’s three modes of inference, exploratory data analysis corresponds to abduction.Meta-analysis is the technique research psychologists use to integrate results from many studies of the same variables and arriving at a grand average of the findings.

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The Beginnings Of Psychology As A Discipline

In the early days of psychology there were two dominant theoretical perspectives regarding how the brain worked, structuralism and functionalism.

Structuralism was the name given to the approach pioneered by Wilhelm Wundt , which focused on breaking down mental processes intro the most basic components.

The term originated from Edward Titchener, an American psychologist who had been trained by Wundt. Wundt was important because he separated psychology from philosophy by analyzing the workings of the mind in a more structured way, with the emphasis being on objective measurement and control.

Structuralism relied on trained introspection, a research method whereby subjects related what was going on in their minds while performing a certain task.

However, introspection proved to be an unreliable method because there was too much individual variation in the experiences and reports of research subjects.

Despite the failure of introspection Wundt is an important figure in the history of psychology as he opened the first laboratory dedicated to psychology in 1879, and its opening is usually thought of as the beginning of modern experimental psychology.

An American psychologist named William James developed an approach which came to be known as functionalism, that disagreed with the focus of Structuralism.

Major Schools Of Thought

Branches of Philosophy – Psychology (What is Psychology?)

Psychologists generally consider biology the substrate of thought and feeling, and therefore an important area of study. Behaviorial neuroscience, also known as biological psychology, involves the application of biological principles to the study of physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying behavior in humans and other animals. The allied field of comparative psychology is the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals. A leading question in behavioral neuroscience has been whether and how mental functions are localized in the brain. From Phineas Gage to H.M. and Clive Wearing, individual people with mental deficits traceable to physical brain damage have inspired new discoveries in this area. Modern behavioral neuroscience could be said to originate in the 1870s, when in France Paul Broca traced production of speech to the left frontal gyrus, thereby also demonstrating hemispheric lateralization of brain function. Soon after, Carl Wernicke identified a related area necessary for the understanding of speech.

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Current Research On Meaning

In modern psychology, meaning itself is generally no longer questioned virtually all psychologists agree that meaning exists as a concept for humans, that it can be found in the world around us, and that we can create or uncover our own unique sense of meaning as well.

In that sense, weve come to a post-postmodern understanding of meaning. We are no longer seeing distinct, discrete theories of meaning instead, we are comfortable mixing and mashing and merging ideas from different theories . The current understanding of meaning, then, seems to be something like:

Were not sure exactly where meaning comes from, if it is inherent, or if it is real at all what we do know is that humans flourish when they have it and suffer when they dont.

This idea is prevalent in positive psychology in particular, where researchers theorize and experiment on how to increase meaning, the sources which provide meaning, and how we can manipulate our own experiences of meaning, all without diving too deep into the questions of where meaning comes from, in a broader sense, and whether it is inherent in life or not.

However, no area of study in psychology would be complete with competing theories and a plethora of opposing ideas. A few of the most popular and influential ideas on meaning in positive psychology are outlined below.

An Introduction To The Perma Model

The PERMA model is a widely recognized and influential model in positive psychology. Seligman proposed this model to help explain and define wellbeing in greater depth.

PERMA is an acronym for the five facets of wellbeing according to Seligman:

This model gives us a comprehensive framework for understanding wellbeing as well as a foundation for improving wellbeing. If youre looking to enhance your own sense of authentic happiness and wellbeing, all you need to do is focus on:

  • Experiencing more positive emotions do more of the things that make you happy, and bring enjoyment into your daily routine
  • Working on upping your engagement pursue hobbies that interest you, develop your skills, and look for a job more suited to your passions, if necessary
  • Improve the quality of your relationships with others work on building more positive and supportive relationships with your friends, family, and significant other
  • Seek out meaning if you dont find it through your work, look for it in volunteering opportunities, personal hobbies or leisure activities, or acting as a mentor for others
  • Keep your focus on achieving your goalsbut dont focus too hard try to keep your ambition in balance with all of the other important things in life .

Happiness alone will likely not propel you towards flourishing, but wellbeing will.

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Suppressing The Assumption Of Stability

There are alternatives to thinking about psychological mechanisms as shared and stable characteristics of the human species that do not lead us into despair or pessimism about the possibility of a unified and systematic theory of psychology. The development, over the past two decades, of modes of thinking that place great emphasis on individual developmental dynamics, the details of a cognitive agents actual, real, bodily interaction with its environment, provide us with an approach that allows for more nuanced, dynamic perspectives on psychology and psychological processes.

The developmental dynamics of Thelen and Smith are a perfect example of this focus on processes and change over rigid structure. Thelen and Smith examine development as a contextualized process of interplay between the child and their environment, providing evidence for the growth of motor skills not as the blossoming of standard, universal cognitive capacities but as the coping of the individual child with the demands of their idiosyncratic histories. The differences between children in their development has at least as much to tell us about how development occurs than the similarities.

Understanding Similarity And Stability In Behavioral Performance

What is Psychology? The scientific definition of ...

The idea of a stable and shared set of basic cognitive processes underlying some of our use of the mean is not entirely an assumption. It is rooted in the success of our everyday interactions, the ease with which we can coordinate with one another, share experiences and activities. A critical reader would no doubt at this point be arguing that the statistical tests we typically use in data analysis invariably take the variance or deviations within the sample into account, while also emphasizing the plain fact that while it might be true that everyone is unique, it is plainly true that we share a great deal. People vary, sure, but looking around, they do not vary nearly as much as they could in most cases, and most of what differences do exist seem to be quite subtle certainly nothing requiring any fundamental re-think of our use of statistics or theoretical perspective.

Amongst these new approaches to psychological research, how is this simple truth about the similarity of human beings to be captured and explained?

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The Goals Of Psychology

The four main goals of psychology are to describe, explain, predict and change the behavior and mental processes of others

Describing a behavior or cognition is the first goal of psychology. This can enable researchers to develop general laws of human behavior.

For example, through describing the response of dogs to various stimuli, Ivan Pavlov helped develop laws of learning known as classical conditioning theory.

Once researchers have described general laws behavior, the next step is to explain how or why this trend occurs. Psychologists will propose theories which can explain a behavior.

For example, classical conditioning predicts that if a person associates a negative outcome with a stimuli they may develop a phobia or aversion of the stimuli.

Once psychology has described, explained and made predictions about behavior, changing or controlling a behavior can be attempted.

For example, interventions based on classical conditioning, such as systematic desensitization, have been used to treat people with anxiety disorders including phobias.

Assumption : Averaging Helps Us To Eliminate The Noise In Our Measures To See The True Value

We have no issue with the common statistical notion of sampling error. This is the notion that, when sampling from a population of scores, each sample will have a mean that is likely to vary from the mean of the population with a fairly predictable probability. That is, there are likely to be many samples with means that fall fairly close to the population mean, and a much smaller number that have means further away from the population mean. The chances of obtaining a sample mean close to the population mean are increased by taking a larger sample.

The problem we have with sampling is more in the interpretation of sampling error. Just as we have a difficulty with the concept of the mean reflecting a true value on some variable, we also find it challenging to accept that sample values on either side of the mean reflect noise in the data. This interpretation suggests that these values are not psychologically meaningful. Instead they are a nuisance factor that requires elimination. Indeed, if this noise did not exist, if we could measure true values directly, we would have no need for inferential statistics such as the analysis of variance .

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Every Time I Find The Meaning Of Life They Change It: Wisdom Of The Great Philosophers On How To Live Daniel Klein

This book takes a very different tone from the previous entry, but it can be just as insightful.

During his college years studying philosophy, Daniel Klein filled a notebook with quotes from some of the worlds best and brightest quotes that inspired him, enlightened him, or struck him as excellent guidance.

In his 80s, Klein revisited this notebook and added, edited, and revised his entries, providing annotations and notes for the reader to follow along. With the wisdom and experience that only age can bring, the author explores how he has changed and how he has stayed the same, and how each quote applied in his life.

If you are looking for a book that is fun, humorous, and enlightening all at once, this may be the book for you.

Find the book on .

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