The Science of Psychology

Updated: Feb 8, 2021


Psychology is an important branch of human knowledge. Psychology is an important subject, which has theoretical as well as practical significance. As a science, psychologist approximately 130 years old. The first psychological laboratory was started in 1879 at the University of Leipzig in Germany.

Definition of Psychology:

The definition of Psychology has undergone changes over a period of time during last 130 years. Wundt defined Psychology as the study of conscious experience. Dr. Sigmund Freud, on the basis of his clinical experience, defined Psychology as the study of unconscious processes.

Morgan and King has defined Psychology as "the science, which seeks to understand and predict human and animal behaviour"

Psychology, in recent years has been defined "as the science of behaviour and mental processes "

The term behaviour is used to refer to overt (external) or outward actions and covert (internal) changes within the organism. Overt changes include running, jumping facial expressions, gestures, postures, etc.

Covert changes include changes inside the body that cannot be directly observed. Some of them are increase in the blood pressure , heart beat, dreaming, thinking, etc. Mental processes refer to activities that go on in our mind. It refers to activities like thinking, emotions, feelings, motives, desires, etc., that others cannot directly observe. Mental processes were not studied by early Psychologists like Watson and Skinner. However, with the growth of Cognitive Psychology mental processes have received considerable attention by modern Psychologists.

Psychology is called as a science because like any other science it is a systematic body of factual knowledge. lt is concerned with quantitative measurement and controlled observation.

Psychology is also called as a science because facts can be verified and observations repeated. Asa science, Psychology is also concerned with establishing cause effect relationship. Psychology is called as a science because it meets all the criteria of science.

Thus, with respect to definition of Psychology the following points are worth noting Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

Psychology also studies animal behavior. It studies overt (external) or outward actions and covert (internal) changes within the organism. Psychology uses scientific methods to investigates its subject matter. Psychology Goals: Like every science Psychology also has certain goals which are briefly outlined below :

1. Description: One of the major goals of Psychology is to describe human behaviour and mental processes. Description is concerned with "what of human behaviour". It tells us as to

"What is Happening?". When we want to describe a behaviour we observe a given behaviour and note everything about it. The information that is collected through observation or controlled experimentation helps us to explain how certain behaviour occurs. Psychologists can describe any aspect of human behaviour in a very interesting and factual manner.

2. Explanation:

Explanation deals with Why" of behaviour. Many a times we are interested in finding about "why" of human behaviour. Why do students copy during the exam? Why only certain people fall in love? Why do some people often indulge in criminal behaviour ?, etc. When we attempt to find answers to above questions we are seeking explanations. Finding explanation for behaviour is an important step in the process of forming theories of behaviour. Explanations help to form theories. A theory can be defined as a framework constructed by a researcher or a scientist to explain why certain events or processes occur. The process of constructing a theory is not only elaborate but very difficult one.

3. Prediction:

Prediction is concerned with finding answer to questions such as "When

will it happen again?". We are often interested in predicting human behaviour, such as when we select students to a particular course or a particular candidate for a given job we are interested

in predicting his/her success. Knowledge of Psychology can help us to predict certain behaviour with considerable accuracy and certainty. Through various scientific methods and with the help

of psychological tests, Psychologists can help us to predict an individual's behaviour. For e.g. knowledge of Psychology can tell us whether a given individual will develop anxiety disorder during examination or whether an employee is likely to perform well on a given task or not.

Thus, Psychologists can predict human behaviour to a considerable extent with higher degrees

of accuracy.

4. Control:

It is concerned with modification or change of human behaviour. Psychologists are also interested in controlling behaviour. The main aim of controlling or modifying human behavior is to help individuals adapt better to their environment. The most important goal of Psychology is to modity human behaviour in certain beneficial ways. Psychology controls (or

modifies or influences), human behaviour, thoughts, emotions and actions by making certain practical suggestions and offering us guidance on the basis of its factual knowledge. Which has been confirmed by research. Thus, an important goal of Psychology is to intentionally modify or influence individuals in various ways so as to improve and enrich their lives.

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