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What is Psychology? Chapter One. Module Objectives. How do we define psychology? What are the major psychological perspectives? Psychology as a science. What is Psychology?. The term psychology comes from the Greek roots psyche meaning soul or mind and logos meaning word or study.

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module objectives
Module Objectives
  • How do we define psychology?
  • What are the major psychological perspectives?
  • Psychology as a science
what is psychology
What is Psychology?
  • The term psychology comes from the Greek roots psyche meaning soul or mind and logos meaning word or study
what is psychology1
What is Psychology?
  • Psychology is the science of human behavior and mental processes.
  • Behavior is anything we do
    • overt actions and reactions
  • Mental processes are our internal experiences
    • thoughts, feelings, memories…
why study psychology
Why study Psychology?
  • Psychology helps us scientifically evaluatecommon beliefs and misconceptions aboutbehavior and mental processes.
  • Can you identify which of the beliefs on thefollowing slide are true or false?

The best way to learn and remember information is to “cram,” or study it intensively during one concentrated period.



This is the worst way to prepare for an exam! Don’t confuse this for a quicker method of study- students who cram often perform more poorly than those who do not study at all!



This is a psychology urban legend! Although we will discuss the influence of sensation and perception below our threshold of awareness.



We will examine this ineffective practice when we begin our study of learning! Think about the prison system…a large scale example of punishment…does it work?



Our memories are very fragile and subject to many variables. We will examine the influence of memory formation during this semester.



It’s important to recognize the difference between psychology and pseudopsychology, which includes the area of psychics.



This disorder is very misunderstood among the general public. People often confuse this disorder with Multiple Personality Disorder, now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder

how did you do

How did you do?

This quiz was a brief illustration of how psychological information is often misunderstood. Psychology is NOT limited to “common sense” information.

We will examine each of these questions in detail through the course of this class

scientific psychology has four basic goals

Scientific psychology has four basic goals:

to describe, explain, predict, and change behavior and mental processes

psychological information is based on empirical evidence

Psychological information is based on empirical evidence

This is information based on direct observation and measurements with scientific method

how accurate is the image of psychology

How Accurate is the Image of Psychology?

Think on your own…

Make a list of words you would use to describe a psychologist…think about some images you have as well.

how about scientists

How about Scientists?

Think on your own..

Make a list of words would you use to describe a scientist? What images do you have?

think on your own

Think on Your Own…

You have a problem that you want to address in therapy…

Can any Psychologist help you?

Psychologists have different ways of looking at the same problem, which is why there are so many sub-fields of psychology
psychology s roots began in philosophy but the focus changed to a scientific focus

Psychology’s roots began in philosophy, but the focus changed to a scientific focus.

This scientific focus remains today.

where did psychology come from
Where did Psychology come from?
  • The first psychological laboratory was not created until 1879 by Wilhelm Wundt.
  • Wundt was responsible for creating the first school of psychological thought called Structuralism
    • This school focused only on immediate conscious experience and thought.
problems with structuralism

Problems with Structuralism

This group of Psychologists used a technique called Introspection which was a process of self-examination where the person described and analyzed thoughts as they occurred.

structuralism the first step
Structuralism…the first step
  • The focus of study was way too narrow
  • They studied people only like themselves- very wealthy white males.
  • No valid research was produced
  • This school of thought was a great start, but no longer exists.
the next evolution
The Next Evolution
  • Functionalism is the second perspective to emerge, founded by William James.
  • They studied how and why the mind functions.
  • This perspective broadened the scope of psychology and applied psychology to practical settings.
  • This perspective still focused on consciousness but began to examine overt behavior, not just mental processes.
psychological perspectives
Psychological Perspectives
  • Psychologists have different ways of looking at behavior…click on the links to learn more about each area of psychology!
    • Psychoanalytic perspective
    • Behaviorist perspective
    • Humanistic perspective
    • Cognitive perspective
    • Biopsychology perspective
    • Social psychological perspective
    • Evolutionary perspective

See p. 12

who hasn t heard of freud
Who hasn’t heard of Freud?
  • This is one of the most well-known psychological perspectives in history developed by Sigmund Freud.
  • Freud believed that emotional problems are due to anxiety from unresolved conflicts that reside in unconscious
psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Freud was an early pioneer in treating emotional disorders and was the first to provide counseling and therapy to patients.
  • Free association anddream interpretationwere developed technique to explore the unconscious processes
psychoanalytic theory1
Psychoanalytic Theory
  • Freud was one of the first to treat emotional disorders.
  • Freud’s theories were the first to suggest that our childhood experiences impact our adult behaviors
    • The first to provide therapy for patients.
    • Developed dream interpretation and free association
think on your own do childhood experiences affect adult life

Think on your own… Do childhood experiences affect adult life?

What are some childhood experiences that you feel have shaped who you are now as an adult?

behaviorism the opposite of psychoanalysis
Behaviorism…the opposite of Psychoanalysis
  • Behaviorism was founded by John Watson in direct opposition to Psychoanalytic Theory.
  • Behaviorism focused on behavior that can be measured and observable. This returned the scientific approach to psychology.
    • We can describe, predict, and control that behavior.
behaviorism the opposite of psychoanalysis1
Behaviorism…the opposite of Psychoanalysis
  • Behaviorist’s believe people are controlled by their environment.
    • Behaviorism focuses on observable behavior
  • We are the result of what we have learned from our environment.
cognitive psychology
Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive psychology believes that behaviors are performed because of ideas and thoughts.
  • The cognitive perspective focuses on such processes as perception, memory, and thinking
  • That’s what this area of psychology believes and Cognitive psychology currently exerts a strong influence in psychology.
biopsychology perspective
Biopsychology Perspective
  • How biological factors affect mental processes and how the brain effects behavior.
  • Behavior and biology interact in important ways, and we will discuss the impact of this field when examining psychopharmacology, development and genetics.
research and professional areas in psychology
Developmental Psychology

Social Psychology

Experimental Psychology

Physiological Psychology

Cognitive Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Counseling Psychology

Educational and School Psychology

Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Research and Professional Areas in Psychology
Developmental: Looks at human development across the life span. Developmental psychology once focused primarily on child development but today devotes a great deal of research to adolescence, adulthood, and old age.

Social: Focuses on interpersonal behavior and the role of social forces in governing behavior. Typical topics include attitude formation, attitude change, prejudice, conformity, attraction, aggression, intimate relationships, and behavior in groups.

Experimental: Encompasses the traditional core of topics such as sensation, perception, learning, conditioning, motivation and emotion.

Physiological: Examines the influence of genetic factors on behavior and the role of the brain, nervous system, endocrine system, and bodily chemicals in the regulation of behavior.

Cognitive: Focuses on “higher” mental processes such as memory, reasoning, information processing, language, problem solving, decision making, and creativity.

Personality: Interested in describing and understanding individuals’ consistency in behavior, which represents their personality. This area is interested in factors that shape personality and with personality assessment.

Clinical: Concerned with evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with psychological disorders, as well as treatment of individuals with psychological disorders, as well as treatment of less severe behavioral and emotional problems. Principal activities include interviewing clients, psychological testing, and providing group and individual psychotherapy.

Counseling: Overlaps with clinical psychology in that specialists in both areas engage in similar activities – interviewing, testing, and providing therapy. Counseling psychologists usually work with a somewhat different clientele, providing assistance to people struggling with everyday problems of moderate severity – they specialize in family, marital, or career counseling.

Educational: Work to improve curriculum design, achievement testing, teacher training, and other aspects of the educational process. School psychologists usually work in elementary or secondary schools, where they test and counsel children having difficulties in school and aid parents and teachers in solving school-related problems.

I/O: Perform a wide variety of tasks in the world of business and industry. These tasks include running human resources departments, working to improve staff morale and attitudes, striving to increase job satisfaction and productivity, examining organizational structures and procedures, and making recommendations for improvements.


Think on your own..Where do Psychologist’s Work?Make a list of potential work places or jobs for psychologists.

experimental psychologists usually researchers and professors

Experimental Psychologists(usually researchers and professors)

About 1/4th of American Psychologists work in colleges and universities.

applied psychologists service providers

Applied Psychologists(service providers)

The remaining 3/4ths work in hospitals, clinics, police departments, research institutes, government agencies, business and industry, schools, nursing homes, counseling centers, and private practice.

what can you do with a degree in psychology click on the links below to find out more
What can you do with a degree in psychology? Click on the links below to find out more.
  • General Psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • School Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Counseling Psychology
psychology today
Psychology Today
  • Until the 1960s, psychology was principally a profession made up of white males, this is changing.
  • Today, women earn 73% of bachelor’s degrees in psychology, and 66% of new doctorates
  • Ethnic minorities make up 28% of the APA
  • Hispanic & African-Americans each receive only about 5% of new Ph.D.’s

Next we will talk about why psychology is a science, which requires critical thinking. Use your imagination and “think outside the box” on this next puzzle.

A man dressed entirely in black and wearing a black mask, is standing in the middle of a crossroad. All of the streetlights at the intersection are broken. A car speeds down the road, heading straight for the man, yet it turns in time and doesn't hit him.
  • How does it manage to miss him?
did you get it
Did You Get It?
  • The driver of the car avoided hitting the man wearing only black because it was DAYTIME
  • These “Lateral Thinking” exercises are a great example of how psychologists think critically about psychological questions.