This week we will be learning about the world of psychology and the many diverse topics and concepts we will be covering in this course. You will explore some of the history of the field and be introduced to some of the more famous names and theories associated with psychology.
As you progress through your lesson this week, take full advantage of all of the features of this adapted learning lesson – complete the exercises, honestly assess your understanding of the material using the slider bars at the bottom of each screen, and review the support material suggested based on your progress. Be sure to ask your instructor if you have any questions over any of the concepts introduced this week.
What is Psychology?
Psychology derives from the roots psyche (meaning soul) and –ology (meaning scientific study of). Thus, psychology is defined as the scientific study of mind and behavior.
In Greek mythology, Psyche was a mortal woman whose beauty was so great that it rivaled that of the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite became so jealous of Psyche that she sent her son, Eros, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest man in the world. However, Eros accidentally pricked himself with the tip of his arrow and fell madly in love with Psyche himself. He took Psyche to his palace and showered her with gifts, yet she could never see his face.
While visiting Psyche, her sisters roused suspicion in Psyche about her mysterious lover, and eventually, Psyche betrayed Eros’ wishes to remain unseen to her. Because of this betrayal, Eros abandoned Psyche.
|Origin of PsychologyPsyche comes to represent the human soul’s triumph over the misfortunes of life in the pursuit of true happiness (Bulfinch, 1855); in fact the origin of “Psychology” was as given below. The Greek word psyche means soul, and it is often represented as a butterfly. The word psychology was coined at a time when the concepts of soul and mind were not as clearly distinguished (Green, 2001).The root ology denotes “scientific study of“.Psychology refers to the scientific study of the mind.Since science studies only observable phenomena and the mind is not directly observable, expanded this definition to the scientific study of mind and behavior.|
Aspects of Scientific StudyThe scientific study of any aspect of the world uses the scientific method to acquire knowledge. To apply the scientific method, a researcher with a question about how or why something happens will propose a tentative explanation, called a hypothesis, to explain the phenomenon. A hypothesis is not just any explanation; it should fit into the context of a scientific theory. A scientific theory is a broad explanation or group of explanations for some aspect of the natural world that is consistently supported by evidence over time. A theory is the best understanding that we have of that part of the natural world. Armed with the hypothesis, the researcher then makes observations or, better still, carries out an experiment to test the validity of the hypothesis. That test and its results are then published so that others can check the results or build on them.It is necessary that any explanation in science be testable, which means that the phenomenon must be perceivable and measurable. For example, that a bird sings because it is happy is not a testable hypothesis, since we have no way to measure the happiness of a bird. We must ask a different question, perhaps about the brain state of the bird, since this can be measured.
Psychology as ScienceIn general, science deals only with matter and energy, that is, those things that can be measured, and it cannot arrive at knowledge about values and morality. This is one reason why our scientific understanding of the mind is so limited, since thoughts, at least as we experience them, are neither matter nor energy. The scientific method is also a form of empiricism. An empirical method for acquiring knowledge is one based on observation, including experimentation, rather than a method based only on forms of logical argument or previous authorities.
|It was not until the late 1800s that psychology became accepted as its own academic discipline. Before this time, the workings of the mind were considered under the auspices of philosophy. Given that any behavior is, at its roots, biological, some areas of psychology take on aspects of a natural science like biology. No biological organism exists in isolation, and our behavior is influenced by our interactions with others. Therefore, psychology is also a social science.|